AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Color Me Surprised
Automakers have come a long way from the days of Henry Ford’s Model T. While many colors were available over the “Tin Lizzy’s” long production run, this rugged and bare-bones vehicle was only offered in black for many years. Talk about choice!
Today, car manufacturers offer more hues than there are colors of the rainbow. But that’s not all. Depending on the product, customers can get shimmering metal flake or even special pearlescent paint jobs that seem to change color under different lighting conditions.
Spurning the basics like black, white and beige, even mass-market companies are offering buyers ever more assaulting hues. These days you don’t have to pony up the cash for a Lamborghini to drive something bright. Here are the Top 10 Craziest Paint Colors Available Today.
Each week, we recap the most popular videos from AutoGuide‘s YouTube channel just in case all seven days passed you by and you missed out.
Affordable and Practical
When it comes to the most affordable hatchback, there’s quite a few options out there. Unlike the Honda GEAR concept pictured above (which could preview a new affordable subcompact for the Japanese brand) all the cars on this list are easily attainable, and are competitively priced. Our top ten is seperated by a slim $4,000 margin from cheapest to most expensive. Check out the whole list, and see which cheap hatchback is the right choice for you!
Five-Point Inspection: 2013 Mazda2
Over the last five years, the battle of the subcompacts has been heating up in North America, and it now features no less than seven competitors, including the Mazda2.
Starting at $14,720, the 2 substitutes some features compared to its competitors, in favor of staying cheap. Fully loaded with an automatic transmission, and the Mazda2 ends up at $17,050.
Offering a fun to drive frame, and some bubbly design features, does the 2 stack up to its competitors?
Read on the find out.
10. Mazda2: 1.5L (1498 cc)
The motors in these vehicles don’t pack much power, or torque, and are all aimed to use the least amount of fuel. These cars are all ranked in order, right down to the cubic centimeter from most displacement, to least, so take a look below, to see the list of smallest engines available today.
The subcompact Mazda2 is the first on our list, with the biggest engine here. Thanks to its 1498cc four-cylinder engine, the Mazda2 makes 100-hp at 6000 rpm. Of course, that’s not much but what else do you need in a 2300-lb city car? The Mazda2 starts at $14,530 which isn’t too much for a car that gets 29/35 mpg city/highway with the manual or 28/34 mpg city/highway with the auto.
Mazda has been having some financial troubles recently and need something new to help them recover. The company hopes that this savior is a mini sized CX-5 (shown above) SUV offering. A miniature CX-5 is now under development, a Mazda insider told car advice, and is looking to capitalize on the current boom in small SUV sales.
The pint sized CX-5 will likely be called the CX-3, and will aim to take on the Ford Ecosport and the Opel Mokka on the global markets.“It is common sense [to build it]. We have to develop this vehicle, whether we call it CX-2, CX-3 or CX-4,” said a Mazda spokesperson. The CX-3 will share its platform with the Mazda2 city car.
The baby Mazda will be designed primarily for the European market, although Americans have shown that there is a demand for this type of vehicles on our shores as well. “We are now developing a more compact SUV [than the CX-5] – more for Europe and we must imagine emerging markets … Eastern Europe, South America, India,” said Mazda. The CX-3 may make its way to the US, but it will start its sales in Europe.
A small company like Mazda needs to be very pro-active in its vehicle market placement, and because of its recent economic downturn, there is no margin for error on this newest small SUV venture.
After its fourth straight year resulting in a net loss, Mazda is now looking for partners to help bolster their capital.
Mazda has had a net loss $1.29 billion this fiscal year, and is now actively seeking any way possible to help out with its uncertain financial future. This is the worst slide Mazda has been in since 2001, when it showed a $2.0 billion net loss.
Mazda’s struggles come thanks to the strength of the Yen. Since Mazda exports such a large percentage of its cars from Japan, it’s becoming more and more difficult for the automaker to reap the benefits from the sale of those vehicles.
In response, Mazda is setting up a factory in Mexico to build the new Mazda2 and Mazda3 for the U.S and Latin American markets.
Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi has stated that he must raise capital and is “considering every option” when it comes to getting money for Mazda.
Yamanouchi is looking to gain the interest of other car makers with their environmentally friendly technology such as Skyactiv engine’s.
One of numerous Mazdas on display at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon, the Demio (sold as the Mazda2 in North America) Smart Stylish, delivers as promised with a classy look that adds some luxury appeal to this sub-compact.
Based on the new ultra-efficient Skyactiv 1.3-liter model, the Smart Stylish gets a complete aerodynamic overhaul, with new front and rear bumpers as well as side skits and some large BBS wheels. Bringing the package together is a lowered suspension.
GALLERY: Mazda Demio Smart Stylish
Although it’s providing a fleet of some 100 Demio (Mazda2) all-electric vehicles to select lease customers in Japan (see above), Mazda doesn’t currently offer any other EV passenger vehicles.
However, that may soon change, as Chief Engineer Mitsuru Fujinaka has said the Hiroshima based automaker is looking to get regulartory approval so it can eventually offer EVs for sale in the United States, particularly California. “Sooner or later we will have these electric vehicles,” he said. “At least by 2018 though we will try to do it earlier.”
The JDM Mazda Demio models currently under test, sport a 70 kW electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack that adds approximately 220 lbs in extra weight. Fujinaka says the goal was to offer a zero tailpipe emisisons vehicle that delivered comparable performance to the regular 1.5-liter gas engined Demio and thanks to instant torque (equivalent of some 148 lb-ft), the electric version can scoot from 0-62 mph in less than 10.7 seconds and reach speeds of 87 mph. Range maxes out at approximately 125 miles.
Although the current Demio (Mazda2) EV likely won’t be sold in export markets, there’s a good chance that similar size successors could be. If and when that happens, it’ll be interesting to see both Mazda’s pricing strategy and rollout program, particularly here in the US.
MINI has announced that they will be entering the B-Spec racing class in 2012, with MINI of Charleston, a franchise owned by Hendrick Automotive Group.
The B-Spec car will be a base Mini Cooper Hardtop with a 1.6L 121-horsepower engine. The car will weigh 2,535 lbs and KW Variant 1 coilovers, upgraded brake pads and lines and a full roll cage system. The MINI will go up against the Honda Fit, Mazda2, Fiat 500 and other subcompact cars when racing begins next year.
The Sports Car Club of America’s B-Spec class is meant to give automakers and racers alike a relatively affordable platform to go racing with machines similar to those available from the factory. While safety and chassis modifications are allowed, engine power is restricted to keep the playing field even.
Honda and Mazda were among the earlier adopters, fielding Fit and Mazda2 B-Spec prototypes respectively. Now, Fiat and Ford are looking into the series, and the automakers tested Fiat 500 and Fiesta B-Spec cars at Michigan’s Grattan Raceway last week. Kuno Wittmer and Andy Vrenko piloted the 500 and Fiesta, while Peter Cunningham and Charles Espenlaub represented Honda and Mazda. All cars were equipped with engine restrictors and 100 pounds of ballast, while engineers were on hand to compare lap times between the four cars.
If the formula gains traction among racers, 2012 could be a banner year for American sports car racing, as an entry-level series has long been needed to reinvigorate interest among potential participants.
10. Toyota Yaris 3-Door: $14,115
You can sound polite and say “inexpensive” but if you’re strapped for cash, the most important question when shopping for a new car is: what’s the cheapest car on the market? AutoGuide has got the answer, along with the nine runners up.
Toyota‘s warmed-over Yaris makes the 10th spot on our list with a base price of $14,115 for the 3-door model. The pricier 5-door will run you $15,150.
Using a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder like many of its counterparts the Yaris makes 106-hp and is rated at 38-mpg on the highway making it one of the most efficient models in its class, but not the most efficient. Growing three inches overall, Toyota claims the new car has 68 percent more cargo room than the outgoing model, which it shares a near-identical resemblance with. Standard on all models is air conditioning, nine airbags and power windows.
We’re not really sure how we missed this when it first surfaced at the Thailand International Motor Expo in 2010, but now we’re hungry for more information on it. Mazda‘s Mazda2 entered the subcompact market with mixed reviews, some wondering if it really has a place in the market. Mazda brands it as a performance-oriented machine in a small package, but its 100-hp, 1.5L powerplant says otherwise.
If Mazda had presented the Mazda2 to the American market with this Mazda2 Monster however, we’d be more inclined to think that the vehicle is indeed a sports car in a subcompact body. Unfortunately we scoured the Internet looking for more information on this hot sedan, but came up empty. What we can notice is that it’s decked out with carbon fiber components – from the hood to its front lip and blister fenders while the rear gets a trunk replacement and spoiler – and an aggressive set of wheels gives this Mazda2 a monstrous stance. The race-inspired theme continues with a Bride driver-side seat.
It looks as though this was an actual Mazda demo vehicle in the Mazda booth at the 2010 Thailand International Motor Expo, so we’re thoroughly perplexed on what happened to it after that debut and why it hasn’t surfaced elsewhere. We certainly think it’s worth finding out more, so if anyone has any pointers as to this Mazda2 Monster’s existence – please share!
Check out a video of the Mazda2 Monster after the break.
[Source: Farm of Minds]
Thanks to the success of Mazda‘s MX-5 GT, which competes in the UK’s Britcar Production GTN championship, the Hiroshima company has decided to release a pair of special ‘Black Limited Edition’ Mazda models, inspired by the race car.
Interestingly, despite it’s name, the ‘Sport Black’ Edition MX-5, available at UK dealers from July, is offered in exterior hues of Crystal White Pearlescent, Spirited Green Metallic and Velocity Red mica; that said, the car does sport a ‘Brilliant Black’ finished retractable hardtop; black trimmed upholstery with sand stitching and a black finished steering wheel and deco panel, though the 17-inch alloy wheels are actually finished in dark gunmetal gray.
Special ‘Black Limited Edition’ badging, unique floormats and a full roster of comfort and entertainment options, including a premium Bose sound system, climate control, and Bluetooth hands free system are also included.
All ‘Black Limited Edition’ MX-5s are based on the Sport Tech model and are powered by the 2.-0-liter 160 metric horsepower twin-cam four, coupled with a six-speed manual gearbox.
The Mazda2 based ‘Black Limited Edition’ follows a similar theme to its two-seater stablemate, offered in identical exterior colors, save for the red, which is a slightly different shade – True Red. Other exterior touches include special black vinyl roof treatment, matte black finished 16-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass and special rear bumper trim. Like the MX-5 version it boasts special exterior and interior badging, standard Bluetooth and special floormats.
Just 500 examples of the MX-5 Black edition will be produced, along with 618 of its Mazda2 counterpart. Priced at £22,995 and £12,815 respectively both cars represent quite a good buy by UK standards.
Along with other Japanese automakers, Mazda is predicting a drop in operating profit for 2011, due to a strengthening yen and supply disruptions, which continue to affect production output, following the March 11 earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.
However, the projected forecast in operating profit through March 2012 is slightly better than originally hoped, estimates place it at around some 20 billion yen ($248 million), versus original estimates of 5.6 billion yen predicted by industry analysts. Mazda has also forecast a net operating profit of 1 billion yen for this year, versus a net loss of some 60 billion yen in 2010.
Nevertheless, the Hiroshima based company is looking to diversify its manufacturing base to further increase profitability, with an eye on emerging markets as major centers for potential growth, including Central and South America.
To cater to market needs in this region, the company has announced that, in conjunction with Sumitomo Corporation, it will begin construction of a new assembly plant in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. The plant will produce the Mazda2 and Mazda3 as well as a range of engines.
Once up and running, the plant will have a production capacity of some 140,000 cars annually and will employ approzimately 3,000 people; Mazda will own 70 percent of the venture, Sumitomo the remaining 30 percent.
In addition, both companies will also set up a joint sales venture in Brazil, in an effort to capitalize on that country’s fast growing auto market.
Mazda currently has two thirds of its total vehicle production based in Japan and the rising yen is making its products increasingly uncompetitive overseas (currently 80 percent of total production is exported) as well as eating into profits.
It is hoped that an additional assembly plant outside Japan will help reduce the problem (currently Mazda has three other production facilities outside the home country, in the US, China and Thailand, though all of those were set up as joint ventures with Ford Motor Company).
Upon announcement of the new Mexico factory, Mazda’s shares on the Nikkei (the Tokyo Stock Exchange), spiked some 1.6 percent, out performing the benchmark average, reaching 195 yen per share.
Mazda has given a facelift to the Mazda2 including a minor facelift and the first production application of the automaker’s direct-injection, 1.3-liter SkyActiv gasoline engine.
This very fuel-efficient engine has a compression ratio of 14.0:1 and an intelligent start/stop system that requires less fuel to re-initiate the combustion cycle, making the Mazda2 capable of achieving 58.8 mpg.
The engine includes a cooler EGR system that helps reduce knock, multi-hole fuel injectors that help cool the combustion chamber, a unique piston design, dual sequential valve timing and lighter engine internals for reduced friction losses.
So far, Mazda has not released any engine figures and the revised Mazda2 may not come to the U.S at all.
This Fall Mazda will introduce the 2012 Mazda3, sporting the first use of the automaker’s new SkyActiv technologies in North America. Full details about the engine aren’t yet available, but it is a 1.6-liter and uses direct injection. That car won’t, however, be the first ever model to receive a new SkyActiv engine, with Mazda planning to introduce a SkyActiv-equipped Mazda2 in its home market of Japan – where it goes by the name Demio.
The new 1.3-liter 4-cylinder has an ultra-high compression ratio of 14.0:1 and features both direct-injection and dual sequential valve timing system to achieve 83-hp at 5400 rpm and 83 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm.
Mated to a CVT transmission and an updated start-stop system, fuel economy for the new engine is rated at 70 mpg on the Japanese test cycle.
Mazda will first introduce the new engine this week at the Automotive Engineering Exposition in Tokyo, Japan, before it finds its way into a facelifted version of the Demio later this year. Mazda has not said if the 1.3-liter could find its way under the hood of the U.S.-spec Mazda2, but in a release the company outlined how the SkyActive technologies are part of a plan to reduce the automakers global fuel economy 30 percent by 2015.
Mazda is planning to close down their assembly plants again, while stopping orders from dealers in the United States for their made-in-Japan vehicles.
The Mazda2, Mazda3, Mazda5, MX-5, RX-8, CX-7, CX-9 are all affected. Only the Mazda6 and Tribute will remain in production at their American plants, although the situation could change in light of the parts suppliers affected by the earthquake. As of March 1st, the company had a 94-day supply of vehicles, but the automaker declined to comment on specifics.
In 2010, imported cars accounted for 83 percent of Mazda sales, a much higher number than other Japanese automakers, who build a significant proportion of their cars in North American plants. Mazda’s factories in Japan are located in Hiroshima and Hofu, at the opposite end of the country from where an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incident are taking place.
[Source: Automotive News]