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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]
Mazda will resume production of vehicles on March 22nd, an encouraging sign for the Japanese auto industry as it battles a catastrophic series of events that has seen most automakers in the country suspend production.
With Mazda based in Hiroshima, hundreds of miles away from the earthquake, tsunami and on-going nuclear incidents, the company has fared better than other car companies, Mazda said it will resume production on March 22nd, with a focus on spare parts and vehicles using “in process” inventories. Mazda said that it will announced medium and long-term production in the near future, but is unable to decide at this point in time.
[Source: Left Lane News]
The Honda Fit and Mazda 2 will headline a new racing class, known as B-Spec, that’s been designed as a new showroom stock racing series. The rule set is expected to be finalized within the next 60 days, and both the SCCA and NASA sanctioning bodies have expressed interested in adopting the class.
Using OEM specified wheel, tire and suspension components, the cars will have stock chassis and engines, but will be able to use weight reduction and ballasting to gain performance advantages. The Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Chevrolet Aveo, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris are also eligible for competition.
Mazda does have an official presence at the SEMA Show with several hopped-up versions of the new Mazda2, but the nicest modified example of the Japanese automaker’s entry-level hatchback has got to be at the H&R Springs booth.
Sporting a 3D Carbon body kit and rear spoiler as well as some graphics along the side, this Mazda2 looks ready for the track thanks to some tiny Enkei J-speed wheels in a 15-inch fitment. And helping the hatch sit low on its rollers is an H&R Springs Street Performance Coilover kit.
With the stock 2 already quite a nimble ride thanks to its ultra-low curb weight, we’d really like to hit the auto-x with this H&R Springs car.
GALLERY: H&R Springs Mazda2
Mazda‘s CEO is hoping to double American sales to 400,000 units within the next 5 years, thanks to new fuel-saving technology known as SkyActiv, as well as a push upmarket.
The new SkyActiv gasoline and diesel engines, as well as weight saving technology, will help Mazda position their cars at a more premium price point. Mazda’s ambitious target of doing this by 2015 will seem impossible to a number of observers, but Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi is betting on a newly resurgant market to carry them to their target.
“The reason is that by 2015, when the industry returns to around 17 million, if you look at the segmentation of the recovery, small passenger cars and crossovers will be driving the rebound,” Yamanouchi said.
[Source: Automotive News]
Mazda proudly announced that their upcoming Japanese market Mazda2, set to bow in the second half of 2011, will get an astonishing 70 mpg without any hybrid technology, making it the most fuel efficient gasoline car on the road.
Using an all new family of chassis, engines and gearboxes, Mazda’s SKYACTIV system is designed to get the most mileage out of Mazda’s cars without resorting to hybrid technology. The Mazda2 will use a direct-injection gasoline engine with an astonishing 14:1 compression ratio, but diesels will be available on other models, notably the Mazda6.
The already svelte car will also get a stiffer and lighter chassis as part of the upgrades. No word on whether we’ll see this car in North America, but you can check out our review of the U.S. and Canadian spec Mazda2 here.
[Source: Automotive News]
Mazda‘s upcoming SkyActiv-G engines will get a 14:1 compression ratio, the highest in the world for a gasoline engine, according to a report in Autoweek.
Most cars run compression ratios of 8.5:1, with high performance engines using ratios closer to 11:1. The SkyActiv-G motor takes that figure to a new level, and we’d really like to know how Mazda did it. High compression motors tend to allow for greater efficiency when it comes to making power, but too high of a compression ratio can make the engine more prone to going ka-boom.
Together with new transmissions, diesel engines, rigid chassis and weight reduction in all aspects of the car, the next-generation of Mazda’s should be pretty solid cars. Too bad they’re a few years away from hitting the market.
It’s barely hit the streets over here, yet in Europe, Mazda is already on the next iteration of the Mazda2, set to be revealed at the Paris Auto Show later this month. Most evident is a different nose profile, with a protruding black bumper (reminscent of recent European market Peugeots). There’s also more pronounced curvature in the fenders, but the overall look is hardly distinctive for the B-segment these days.
However it’s what’s under the skin that will probably generate the most interest. Mazda says the updated car will boast Euro V-compliant low emissions engines, likely gas and a 1.6 four-cylinder diesel, a new automatic transmission and tweaks to the chassis, steering and suspension, to give it a bit more sporting flair. If North America gets a facelifted Mazda2, don’t expect it until sometime in 2013 and even then, it’s unlikely that the diesel engine will make it across the pond.
[Source: Auto Express]
Small cars and Mazdas are very popular in Canada. The Mazda3 is constantly battling with the Honda Civic for the title of “Best Selling Car,, and models like the Mazda5 and RX-8 are seen far more frequently in the Great White North than the United States.
With that said, Canada is naturally a very important market for the Mazda2 subcompact, and to commemorate the release of their new hatchback, Mazda is offering the Yozora special edition. Featuring black paint, big alloy wheels (with a snow tire package for good measure), chrome tailpipe, rear spoiler and a graphics package with the numeral “2″ motif splashed all over the front fenders, the Yozora is a little peculiar looking at first glance.
Dig a little further in the press release, and you’ll find a couple interesting nuggets. First is that the Yozora is based on the “entry-level” GX model. Second is that the new rims come shod with Toyo Proxes T1R tires, which are some pretty serious rubber. The base Mazda2 is likely to come with some kind of low-end tire biased towards comfort and low road noise, so the Yozora should be a hoot to drive. If Mazda takes a cue from Porsche and offers a no charge graphics delete option (like the 911 GT3 RS), we’ll be even happier.
GALLERY: Mazda2 Yozora Edition
Press release after the jump:
Mazda has chosen the LA Auto Show as the venue to introduce North Americans to its sub-compact Mazda2. Based on the same architecture as the upcoming 2011 Ford Fiesta, Mazda will be competing with Ford in this segment, which is already populated by vehicles like the Honda fit, Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Accent.
Currently sold in 3-door and 5-door hatchback form overseas, it is not clear if both versions will be available in North America, or if Mazda (like Ford) will deliver a sedan version. Also unclear is what sort of engine will power the car. In Europe and Japan, the 2 comes with either a 1.3-liter or 1.5-liter 4-cylinder, with the larger engine making 101-hp. That output number seems too low for U.S. customers and would be less than any of its competition. Even overseas, the Fiesta can be had with a 119-hp motor.
The Mazda2 is, however, incredibly light (weighing just 2,100 lbs in base trim), which could help it deliver ideal performance. However, as we’ve seen with cars like the Mazda3, Mazda often prefers to use a larger displacement engine, helping make sure it delivers on its “Zoom-zoom” tag line.
What we can be sure of is that the 2, like the rest of the Mazda lineup, will get a sporty design and high quality materials inside.
AutoGuide’s live coverage of the LA Auto Show starts December 2nd.
Mazda has just announced that it will bring the Mazda2 model to market in North America late next year, to compete in the growing sub-compact market alongside models like the Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent, Honda Fit and Ford’s upcoming Fiesta.
“You’ve asked us for it for a while now, and we’ve been studying the market to make sure we can make a business case for it across North America,” said Mazda North America CEO Jim O’Sullivan. “As consumers’ tastes and attitudes toward small vehicles have changed, we now believe strongly there is a place in our lineup for a car below our current least-expensive car, the MAZDA3. MAZDA2 will be true to everything that makes our cars stand apart from the competition: it will be stylish, fun-to-drive and a heck of a value. In short, it will be Zoom-Zoom.”
There is no word on any specifics about the North American model, but in Europe and Japan (where it is sold as the Demio) it is available as a three-door and five-door hatchback, while a sedan version is available in China. Several different gasoline and diesel engines are available overseas, with a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder making just over 100hp a likely option for North America.
The current Mazda2 model was introduced in 2008, when it won World Car of the Year. It is based on the same chassis that underpins Ford’s European Fiesta, which, by no coincidence, will also be on sale in North America by 2011.
Over the past 12 months Ford sold-off much of its stake in Mazda and recently announced it would bring to North America the European Grand C-Max MPV, which would compete directly with the Mazda5. The introduction of the 2, while no-doubt a pure business decision, is also very much a well-timed retaliation.