Posts Tagged ‘kodo’

Nissan Juke-Rivaling Mazda CX-3 Could Come by 2015

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

2014 Mazda CX-5

2014 Mazda CX-5

What if you could see a Nissan Juke remade from the ground up with Mazda’s award-winning SKYACTIV technology and Kodo design language?

We’ve been hearing rumors of a Mazda CX-3 for a while now, but this is the first time we’ve heard an official reference to the car. It comes via an interview between The Motor Report and Martin Benders of Mazda Australia.

Basically, the interview confirmed one thing: Mazda is definitely interested in the compact crossover segment. They are officially gearing up to jump on the Nissan Juke bandwagon. Benders elaborated, saying, “There is opportunity there [in the compact SUV segment], absolutely. We’ve made it clear that it’s an area we’d like to be represented in.”

In the interview, The Motor Report used a bit of psychological trickery to pry a little more info out of the Mazda Australia boss. They bemoaned the fact that all previous rumors indicated a distant launch date for the CX-3, prompting Benders to say, “Oh, it’s not that far away.”

Brilliant, The Motor Report, simply brilliant! This means we can probably expect the Mazda CX-3 as early as next year, perhaps as a 2016 model year. This would fit with Mazda’s previous commitment to launching five new SKYACTIV models by the end of 2016.

As you can probably guess, the new CX-3 would fit into the Japanese automaker’s lineup right below the Mazda CX-5, and would likely share much of its design with the larger SUV. However, it’s looking like Mazda will take the CX-3’s platform and powertrain options from the new Mazda2. Previous rumors suggested that the crossover would share its design with the new hatchback too, but this report implies that Mazda will maintain a rugged SUV feel with the car’s design.

If the Mazda CX-3 does in fact make it to production with the Mazda2’s powertrains, that’ll mean drivers will choose between a 1.5L SKYACTIV-G petrol and a 1.5L SKYACTIV-D diesel (depending on the market). No further powertrain options have been hinted at, but it wouldn’t surprise us if Mazda teased a sportier engine option closer to the crossover’s launch date. That’d be a great way to build some extra hype.

Either way, compact crossovers make up one of the fastest growing segments on the market, so it’s no wonder that Mazda is anxious to get a competitor out on the field. And, it explains why they’d leak this new timeline information to TMR. All in all, we’re thrilled to hear that the Mazda CX-3 is “not that far away,” and we’ll definitely keep you updated as we learn more.

Thanks for reading!

The Yen Falls, Mazda Profits For the First Time in 5 Years

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Any regular readers know that I have a strong affection for the underdog Japanese automaker, Mazda. They may only be the 5th largest Japanese car brand, but in my opinion they make some of the most beautiful, best-driving cars on the market. And I’m not the only one who thinks that way.

So far, it’s been a very, very good year for Mazda. Over the past six months they’ve won numerous awards, most of which we’ve written about. The Japan Car of the Year award is probably the most notable, but they’ve won awards from Kelley Blue Books, Green Car Journal, and Fleet News Awards as well. They’ve also gained substantial recognition from Consumer Reports and JD Power, among others.

Mazda Logo

In fact, just last week the Mazda6 won the Red Dot Design Award on the back of Mazda’s new Kodo design language. A jury of 37 design and automotive experts all concluded that the Mazda6 demonstrates a “high level of design innovation and a bold stance,” crowning it literally the most beautiful car on the market. This is the most prestigious design award out there, dating back all the way to 1955.

Yet, even better than all these awards and recognitions, Mazda may actually make a profit in 2013 for the first time in five years.

Auto News reports that the Japanese yen has dropped like a stone over the past six months to a 3.5 year low of around 99 Yen to one US dollar. This is excellent news for Mazda Motor Corp. because they’re very dependent on exports having few manufacturing options outside Japan. For Mazda more than any other Japanese manufacturer, a drop in the Yen is an opening for profit.

And we’re not just talking small-time profits here either… Mazda won’t just eke out a few pennies’ from the weak Yen. Instead, Advanced Research Analyst Koji Endo is reported saying, “As long as the Yen stays at around 90-95 against the Dollar, Mazda’s profits could double in the fiscal year to March 2014.” That’s incredible!

You can imagine what this means for Mazda, who has worked so fervently to develop their two newest unique selling points – the SkyActiv technology suite and the Kodo design language. As a reward for their efforts, they have a very real opening here to set themselves up for consistent yearly profits off more than the back of a weak yen. If they can use this opportunity to bolster their export-based markets like the US, establishing a firm presence now will reward them for years to come.

It all depends on the new Mazda3 expected later this year. If the Mazda3 is as good as the Mazda6 and CX-5, it may have a real chance at contending with the likes of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Here’s to hoping.

Whether or not you share my infatuation with Mazda, I hope you can at least appreciate an underdog’s success story. I know that Mazda still has a long way to go towards consistent profits, but now more than ever I believe they will get their dues, and I hope they do, too. I want to see new Mazdas on the market for years and years to come.

Thanks for reading!

PS – I’ll also point out that a weak yen makes now a very good time to look through our auctions too. Just sayin’.

Sources: Carscoops, Autonews

New Mazda3 Hatchback Unofficially Unveiled – Witness the Kodo

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Over the past few months, you may have noticed our secret love affair with Mazda. It’s not that we love every car in their current lineup. We don’t. But the direction we see this unassuming Japanese brand moving in is exciting, to say the least.

Mazda is like the little engine that could… You just can’t help rooting for them.

Thus, when we saw that the folks over at Carscoops were kind enough to publish a digital rendering of the next-gen Mazda3 hatchback (thanks guys!), we just had to share it with you. Go ahead and take a look. Soak it in. I’ll wait.

Now, one of the key things to note about this digitized Mazda3 is how it fits into the Kodo design language. We’ve already seen Kodo – which means “heartbeat” in Japanese – featured in the new Mazda CX-5 and Mazda6. Both cars look phenomenal. As you can see, the next Mazda3 hatchback is looking just as good. Swooping body lines that accent both front and rear wheel-wells, a sleek-but-simple front clip, and a distinct roof-line all contribute to a very contemporary-feeling exterior.

Of course, Mazda’s new Kodo design language is only the first half of their brand’s new direction. The second half is the multi-award-winning SkyActiv technology suite.

The Mazda3 has had a surplus of adoring fans since its original release back in 2004. Since then, excellent handling, a reasonable powertrain and great visibility have all helped build a stellar reputation for Mazda’s now-best-selling vehicle. Now, with the fuel economy allowed by Mazda’s SkyActiv platform in the mix, there is no doubt that this suave-looking hatchback will play a pivotal role in Mazda’s US presence.

Why? Just look at the facts:

* The current Mazda3 is already their best-selling vehicle
* Production is going to be in Mexico instead of Japan to reduce importing costs (this is key to Mazda’s future)
* Both Kodo and SkyActiv have been increasingly well-received with each new model

As for a release date, Mazda plans to officially unveil the Mazda3 hatchback later this year. This detailed rendering will have to suffice until then. And in case you’re wondering how accurate it is, Carscoops used real spy-shots to digitally replace camo with a metallic paint job. So yes, it’s accurate.

We’re always looking for an excuse to talk about Mazda, so we’ll keep you posted on any further Mazda3 developments as they happen. In the meantime, enjoy the automotive eye-candy, and thanks for reading.

Source: Carscoops

Mazda Targeting 43% Sales Increase in the US By 2016

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Mazda has historically been a brand that, while certainly drawing its fair share of enthusiasts, lacked the mass-market appeal of the big Japanese car manufacturers such as Toyota and Honda. Naturally, this lack of popularity has slowly but surely pushed an otherwise high quality Japanese brand (#4 in reliability according to Consumer Reports) into a desperate position with a slim 2% global share of the market.

But don’t discount Mazda just yet. As British Prime minister Benjamin Disraeli said, “Desperation is sometimes as powerful an inspiration as genius.” And clearly Mazda Motor Corp. CEO Takashi Yamanouchi is inspired. Last week he told Automotive News that his goal is to boost US sales an astronomical 43% by 2016.

Now, if you’ve followed Mazda’s marketing for the past 20 years, then you’ll remember that in the early 90’s Mazda attempted to circumvent their dwindling sales with Amati. Just like Acura/Honda or Lexus/Toyota, Amati was intended to be a “luxury brand” that would allow Mazda to attract not necessarily a bigger share of the market, but a more profitable one. The thing is, no cars were ever actually manufactured under Amati.

Fast forward 20 years. Mazda is still a relatively cash-strapped underdog, and they’re still determined to shift their market upwards to “Japan premium”. Better than “Japan economical”, I suppose, but the question is: what are they doing differently this time around? What is going to separate the next three years from the past 20?

Two Words: “SkyActiv” and “Kodo”

Technically speaking, the most noteworthy differences will be in the ever-improving SkyActiv technologies which are aimed to be included in 80% of Mazda’s fleet by 2016. These new cutting-edge technologies are aimed to advance the brand closer to premium appeal with improvements that increase performance and minimize environmental impact. See this year’s Mazda CX-5 hit crossover for an initial sample of what SkyActiv is intended to bring to the brand.

Another obstacle to “Japan premium” status that has always plagued Mazda is a lack of concern for style. They’ve always driven well, but typically from the inside their cars seem both noisy and, to be frank, ugly. That’s why Mazda is introducing the Kodo (Japanese for “soul of motion”) design language in addition to the SkyActiv technologies. Their goal with Kodo is to include more high-end materials in the part of the car that customers notice most, and to generally sleek-ify their cars’ silhouettes. Ideally, Kodo-themed designs will help Mazda more easily capture the eyes of their new “Japan premium” target market with a definitively luxurious aesthetic.

The Customer is Just as Important as the Car

Beyond the technical improvements, Yamanouchi seems to have a very clear path laid out as he said: “It’s about being a brand that has a strong bond with the customer.”

In other words, Mazda is looking to take their admittedly small sliver of highly loyal customers in the US and expand both outwards and upwards. So, even though Mazda is in the process of initiating production at a new $500 million factory in Mexico, they don’t want to pump that influx of new cars into new dealerships. Instead, Mazda is going to emphasize dealer-loyalty with increased earnings instead of more sales outlets. This will in turn enable Mazda to more tightly focus on improving customer service across the board, a key step towards successful repositioning.

Ultimately, it’s hard to judge whether or not these new changes that Mazda is bringing to the table will actually make a difference in their sales volume. Einstein once said that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” There is a definite danger that Mazda’s failed brand-maneuvers in the past are going to repeat themselves in the short future. Mazda certainly has the motivation to succeed, but only time will tell whether or not their motivation is pointed in the right direction.

Source: AutoNews

Mazda Atenza / Mazda6 Photos Show Kodo Design Philosophy Running Strong

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

The Paris Auto Show has seen a ton of exciting new concepts from leading Japanese car companies but one that has really stood out is the new Atenza / Mazda6 sedan and wagon models. (The Atenza is known outside Japan as the Mazda6).

Having just released an enormous photo gallery of the two versions, Mazda reiterated that their latest designs follow their corporations design philosophy of Kodo (soul of motion) to the purest element it’s been yet.

They sure aren’t kidding. The wing grille streams into each flowing line that carries the eye back over the coupe-like roofline. In fact, the roofline has been set towards the back of the car by 100mm which gives a surprisingly sporty look to the mid-size cars. The Mazda6 is certain to make a big hit in the European D-segment of the car market, a place where the company currently sells 6.2% of the total passenger cars already.

2013 Mazda Atenza Wagon Side View

A Roomier Atenza / Mazda6

Promising to provide more space in the cabin, Mazda gave the sedan a 2,830 mm wheelbase but in an odd move, made the wagon version of the Mazda6 only 2,750 mm. The wagon is also smaller, coming in at 4,800 mm total, 65 mm under the typical Mazda saloon (which is a standard size according to Mazda reps).

But even with that length difference, the wagon beats out the sedan in boot capacity as with the rear seats in place, the wagon is 522lt while the sedan only 489lt. Either way, both versions of the Mazda6 are constructed over a more rigid but lighter chassis that boasts a front strut and multi-link rear suspension. This should provide the agile yet comfortable ride as well as high-speed stability that the company is promising in both the Mazda6 sedan and wagon versions.

Zoom Zoom Engine Options

When the sales begin at the end of this year in Europe, drivers will be able to pick between two different versions of the Skyactiv Mazda: the three petrol and the two diesel power versions. The petrol Skyactiv-G comes with a 2.0 liter in both 143 horsepower (145PS) and 163 horsepower (165PS) options. If the buyer wishes for even more power in a petrol, they can also opt for a 2.5 liter that boasts a 189 horsepower (192PS) engine.

For those who prefer diesel, options are available as well with the Skyactiv-D 2.2 diesel coming in either a 147 horsepower (150PS) or 173 horsepower (175PS) variety.

The obvious attention to choices is part of a new Japanese automaker trend to provide variety to their customers, something which is partially responsible for their strong sales as of late. Mazda’s new line is looking to follow suit.

2013 Mazda Atenza Wagon Front

More Safety Options Standard in Europe

But what’s even more intriguing is that while the European models will have features like radar cruise control, automatic braking for low and high speed collision and lane departure warning systems, the power options will shrink when the cars are released in North America in early 2013.

Offering only the sedan Mazda6 with the Skyactiv-G gasoline 2.5-liter 189 horsepower engine, Mazda seems to know that Americans want more power. And with the promise of a 2.2-liter turbo diesel engine possibly in the works later on in the line, it looks like Mazda really have their fingers on the pulse of each geographical market.