Car Review: 2013 MAZDASPEED3 Touring

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After totally redesigning the Mazda 3 in 2010, their engineers kept pushing the envelope to see how far they could take this design. Well, here we are in 2013, driving the 2013 MAZDASPEED3 Touring, and we have to say, Mazda has done quite well. When you drive a car for a week, you can get a really good feel about the soul of the car, and this car has rock ‘n roll in her soul.

EXTERIOR

The 2013 MAZDASPEED3 Touring is an aggressive looking car, and with velocity red bicolor as tested along with 18-inch gunmetal painted alloy wheels, there is some serious testosterone happening here. Our test model included the Technology package, which adds automatic and adaptive bi-xenon headlights, LED taillights. Other exterior notables were foglights, keyless entry, sport type front and rear bumpers and hood, grille insert and trim, sport-tuned dual exhaust outlet with bright tips, two toned dual power mirrors with turn signal lamps and unique MAZDASPEED3 two-tone rear-lift gate spoiler. The car just screams speed, but also incorporates a clean and stylish appearance.

INTERIOR

The cabin space looks sleek and refined compared to past Mazda models and was loaded with options. Our media car boasted 5-passenger seating, tilt and telescopic steering column, audio cruise and Bluetooth steering controls, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob with contrast stitching, power windows with auto and power door locks, cloth and leather seats, very cool and unique MAZDASPEED3 sillplates and rear armrest with cup holders. Additional optional equipment included interior lighting kit, mirror comp homelink with rain sensor, blind spot monitoring system, full color touch screen navigation system, Sirius satellite radio, HD and Pandora radio, SMS text message delivery and reply, E911 auto emergency notification, alarm system and rain sensing windshield wipers. Yes, this car is loaded and quite comfortable for the driver, as the 2013 MAZDASPEED3 Touring is a work of art for the price.

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First Drive: 2014 Mazda6

Mazda invited us to the Texas Hill Country near Austin to test drive the completely redesigned Mazda6. Everything about this vehicle is new, including the platform, engine and transmission, all designed from scratch from the ground up to work together. The engineers at Mazda even had to create all-new manufacturing processes to enable the scaling of the hardware for different models. The result is a vehicle that should do well in the super-competitive mid-sized sedan market.

Exterior

Check out the slideshow above, and you’ll see that the new Mazda6 is a beautiful vehicle from all angles. The front face of the vehicle is less pronounced than previous Mazda designs, helping to create a more refined look while retaining the aggressive feel of the Mazda brand. I particularly like how the chrome under the front grille extends out to follow the upper curves of the headlights, and the obligatory LED accents are perfectly placed to help create the image of speed and power.

The designers at Mazda had some clear goals as the re-imagined this vehicle. The Mazda6 currently captures a youthful, sporty image, and they wanted to reposition the 2014 model with “a more sporty, sophisticated and premium image.” They also wanted to position it as clear step-up from the youthful Mazda3.

The design theme of “Kodo – Soul of Motion” permeates every decision made with the new vehicle, with an emphasis on proportion, stance, brand signature and aerodynamics. The muscular but fluid lines make the Mazda6 look like it’s ready to run. Overall, this new design is a head-turner that should generate significant buzz for the vehicle and the brand.

Interior

The goal of creating a more premium image led to significant upgrades to the interior of the Mazda6. The all-new seats were very comfortable, and both the standard interiors and the leather option definitely had a more luxurious and elegant feel. The leather in particular offers a combination of hidden and contrast stitching that adds to the beauty of the interior. They reduced the size of steering wheel a bit to give more of a racing feel to the vehicle as well.

The designers avoided a bulky center stack in favor of a more horizontal design across the dashboard, and the controls are presented in a manner that makes them very easy to use. The screen and TomTom navigation tools were adequate, but they won’t blow you away as the screen isn’t very large. Still, the overall design and comfort level of the interior will definitely attract a wide variety of consumers.

Performance

Mazda is all about building cars that are fun to drive, and they achieved that goal with the 2014 Mazda6. The rolling hills near Austin provided a great testing environment with plenty of tight curves along with rapid inclines and declines. The thought that struck with me the most was how agile the Mazda6 felt. The steering, handling and braking were all very impressive.

The Mazda6 we tested featured the all-new SKYACTIV-G 2.5L four-cylinder engine that is available now with the launch of the vehicle, and Mazda will be providing a SKYACTIV-D 2.2L Clean Diesel Engine for the second half of 2013. This will replace the option of a six-cylinder engine which may disappoint some buyers but may also help lead to a resurgence of diesel in the US market. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Six-cylinders are becoming much rarer in this mid-sized market, disappointing those of us who crave power. Still, Mazda went to great lengths to push the limits of performance and efficiency with its new SKYACTIV engine technology, and the efforts produced solid performance for the new engine. The engine generates 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque and the 6-speed automatic version offers up impressive fuel mileage at 26 MPG city and 38 MPG highway (30 mpg combined).

Mazda has also added some impressive technological features that make the vehicle more competitive in this segment, with Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Front Obstruction Warning, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Control, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Smart City Brake Support.

Overview

Mazda’s all-new flagship model will be priced competitively in this segment, with the Sport model starting at $20,880 and the Grand Touring version topping out at $29,495. Consumers can definitely save some money choosing the Mazda6 over much of the competition without sacrificing performance and styling. I suspect the eye-catching design will lure many consumers to give this vehicle a try, and like all Mazdas it’s fun to drive, so Mazda will likely have another hit on its hands.

  

Mazda unveils new CX-5 Crossover SUV at Frankfurt Motor Show

Mazda invited us to join them in Frankfurt as they unveiled the new CX-5 Crossover SUV at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The crossover market is exploding, and this new vehicle gives Mazda with a strong entry in the small crossover segment. The CX-5 is a completely new vehicle for Mazda from the technology to the design language. Mazda CEO and President Takashi Yamanouchi proudly introduced the new vehicle at the auto show along with Chief Designer Masashi Nakayama and Program Manager Hideaki Tanaka.

As you can see from the photos above, the styling on this all-new crossover is sporty and aggressive. CX-5 becomes the first production model to feature Mazda‘s new design theme, “KODO – Soul of Motion.” Chief Designer Masashi Nakayama explained: “With the CX-5, our focus was on expressing a strong sense of vitality and agility. We looked at videos of cheetahs; their agile footwork and how they use their entire body as a spring to accelerate rapidly and change the direction instantly. They emanate great energy throughout their entire body. Inspired by their efficient yet beautiful movements, we aimed to push the SUV appearance to new levels with KODO design language.” The prominent front and rear fenders and sculptured body sides give the CX-5 a distinctive look, and we’ll start seeing the new front grille and face of the vehicle showing up on other Mazda cars.

The CX-5 will be introduced progressively to global markets beginning early next year. This is the first Mazda developed completely around its new SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, which includes all-new gas and diesel engines, manual and automatic transmissions, body and chassis. North American president and CEO Jim O’Sullivan explained to us that the CX-5 was truly a clean-sheet design from the ground up using this new technology, and all of these elements will start appearing in other Mazda models in years to come. This approach on the CX-5 also allowed Mazda the opportunity to achieve significant weight savings as well which will have a significant impact on gas mileage.

With this particular vehicle, Program Manager Hideaki Tanaka explained: “We aimed to develop a vehicle with a long-term appeal that would delight owners and make them proud for years to come. I think that these were the most important values we had to embody in the CX-5. We wanted to deliver the best of all worlds in order to suit the various lifestyles and life stages of our customers, and satisfy their high expectations over the long term. Specifically, we focused on providing pleasure through the CX-5’s appearance, its precise handling, its insightful functionality, and its long-term appeal. By aiming to achieve the ideal in each area, we pursued the innovation of driving pleasure.”

The company clearly nailed the styling on this one and it should appeal to single buyers along with consumers with small families. The interior room and functionality was impressive. I’m anxious to drive the CX-5 once it’s ready for production as Mazda consistently delivers on vehicles that are fun to drive.

  

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