Posts Tagged ‘subcompact’

2015 Toyota Aygo X-Cite Version Has Us Excited

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, May 30th, 2015

2015 Toyota Aygo X-Cite

Toyota is offering a new X-Cite version of their Aygo subcompact hatchback for the 2015 model year.

As you can see, arguably the most noticeable new feature in the Aygo X-Cite is the addition of the new Cyan Splash exterior color. That striking blue is accented with a Piano Black grille, Bold Black side mirror covers, and Glossy Black five-spoke 15” alloy wheels. Yeah, that’s a lot of different kinds of black. Of course, the wheels also get some fancy Cyan Splash center caps to complete the look.

Apparently, the X-Cite will also be available with a blacked out roof in some select European markets (pictured below).

2015 Toyota Aygo X-Cite Bicolor

The Cyan Splash color-scheme splashed its way into the interior as well, and we have to admit, we like it. The bright blue accents around the seats, doors, floor mats and air vents are vibrant, but not overbearing… They really seem to breathe life into the cabin. The extra color makes the car feel youthful and fun, despite a relatively minimalistic design.

2015 Toyota Aygo X-Cite interior

However, even though the cabin looks minimalistic, it will be available with more features than ever for the 2015 model year. For example, the Toyota Aygo is now available with Toyota’s trademark Safety Sense suite of active safety technologies, including Pre-Collision System, which monitors vehicles in front of the car and automatically brakes if collision is imminent, and Lane Departure Alert, which you probably don’t need an explanation for.

2015 Toyota Aygo X-Cite rear

Altruistically, Toyota recognizes that “it is only when such advanced safety systems are in widespread use that they can have a real impact on the reduction of traffic accidents and fatalities.” So, to contribute to the cause they’re going to make sure the Toyota Safety Sense add-on is available at a “highly competitive price”.

Thanks Toyota!

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2014 Toyota Auris

2014 Toyota Auris

Unfortunately, there are none of the new-generation Toyota Aygo models up for auction at the time of this writing. But, there are several of the hatchback’s big brother available – meet this 2014 Toyota Auris.

2014 Toyota Auris rear

The Toyota Auris probably doesn’t need too much explanation. It’s Toyota’s primary hatchback offering, and as a 2014 model year, this would’ve been just two years after the generational overhaul. This particular model is a JDM Toyota Auris 150X S Package, which means it runs on a 1.5L petrol that outputs 104hp and 100 lb-ft of torque… Just enough for fuel efficient city driving.

2014 Toyota Auris interior

Want more information on this Toyota Auris? Get a full rundown via the auction sheet translation below:

2014 Toyota Auris auction sheet

“Interior A, exterior B, first registered July 2014, 150X S Package model, FAT, AAC, HID headlights, pushbutton starter and keyless entry, aftermarket navigation and digital TV, fog lamp, power steering, power windows, original alloy wheels, ABS, airbag, AFS, traction control, spare key, indicator door mirrors, minor scratches and minor dents, marks as per map”

What?! Here’s Why the 2016 Mazda2 Won’t Be Sold in the US

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

2016 Mazda2

Get this – the new Mazda2 subcompact that’s gotten so much attention this past year will NOT be sold in the US in 2016. Even though Mazda is manufacturing the new Mazda2 just south of the border in their brand-new factory in Salamanca, Mexico, top US executives apparently “decided it wasn’t a priority,” at least according to an interview between Robert Davis, Senior VP of US Operations, and Automotive News.

Here’s why: it turns out that a Mazda doesn’t have the production capacity in their new plant to make enough Mazda2 hatchbacks for every single market. So, last year when the global office was allocating units of their new subcompact, executives from the US politely bowed out of the conversation. Davis says, “We could have had it, but we would have had a number that didn’t make much sense with 600 dealers and with the marketing it takes to launch a new car.”

In other words, Mazda US would’ve had to either A) only send Mazda2s to a select few of their dealerships, which doesn’t make sense, or B) go through the trouble of marketing a new car on a national level only to have a small number of models available per dealership, which also doesn’t make sense. Plus, Mazda only sold 13.5k units of the 2014 Mazda2 last year, which may be a 14% increase year-over-year, but not enough to make it worth the trouble, especially when Americans are trending towards crossovers.

“I wanted to allocate resources to those products that make us and our dealers considerably more profit than a Mazda2 does,” Davis said. “It’ll always be there if we need it.” Apparently, Davis doesn’t see the US branch of the brand needing a fuel-sipping subcompact anytime soon when the crossover segment is exploding and gas prices remain low.

2016 Scion iA sedan

Fortunately, the awesome new Mazda2 will still make it into the US, but not under the Mazda name. Remember the partnership between Mazda and Toyota? Well, Toyota will adopt the subcompact into their lineup as the new Scion iA sedan for the 2016 model year, which is built on the same platform and manufactured at the same Salamanca plant as the Mazda2.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2014 Mazda Demio (aka. Mazda2)

2014 Mazda Demio

Although you won’t be able to buy the 2016 Mazda2 through any US dealerships, if past trends are any indication, the new car will do just fine in Japan. Anytime you have an extremely popular car, it always finds its way into auction houses, so come back this time next year and you’ll probably be able to get a near-new Mazda2 of your very own.

2014 Mazda Demio rear

In the meantime, this 2014MY is in excellent shape with an overall auction rating of 5, and a near immaculate exterior. This would’ve been the last year that the old pre-SkyActiv Mazda2 was available, but it was still a perfectly good car. Edmunds said the 2014MY was a good buy for its surprisingly sporty handling and simple-to-operate controls, plus an affordable price-tag (made even more so by being up for auction).

Want more details? Get a full translation of the auction sheet below:

2014 Mazda Demio auction sheet

“Interior B, exterior condition A, first registered October 2014, 13S model, FAT, AAC, first time in auction, MazdaSpeed front under skirt and rear roof spoiler and side skirts, rear view reversing camera, original navigation system, ABS, airbag, original alloy wheels, power steering, power windows, minor interior grime, scratches under bumpers, marks as per map”

Official Infiniti QX30 Concept Teased Ahead of Geneva

Posted by Stephen On Friday, February 20th, 2015

With the 2015 Chicago Auto Show officially behind us, automakers are looking forward to the next major automotive event – the 2015 Geneva Motor Show which opens doors on March 3. Today we have a teaser from premium automaker Infiniti previewing a new crossover concept called the Infiniti QX30 Concept.

Infiniti QX30 Concept

The name should ring a bell for anyone who’s kept up with Infiniti’s concept cars for the past couple years. You may remember the Infiniti Q30 Concept all the way back from the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Infiniti Q30 (pictured below) is a hatchback concept which we expect to see on dealership floors by the end of this year as a 2016MY. Now, today’s preview is for the Q30’s big brother – a compact crossover that bears a near-identical design.

Infiniti Q30 Concept

Looking at the stats Infiniti provided in the accompanying press release, we can expect the Infiniti QX30 to be a sizeable 30mm taller than the Q30 Concept. Stylistically, while the Q30 was intended to be luscious and seductive, the QX30 is intended to be bold and safe. According to Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti’s Executive Director of Design, “The QX30 Concept has been designed to make occupants feel safe and protected inside, and customers can drive in or out of the city without worrying about nicks to the chromework.”

Infiniti has used a heavily sculpted body with their hallmark “dual wave” body lines, along with plenty of bold black accents and chrome, to create a crossover that anyone would count themselves lucky to drive. It’s extremely sporty with extra-large 21-inch multi-shaded aluminum alloys, large exhausts embedded in either side of the bumper, and a carbon fiber spoiler to top things off. We’re guessing we’d see a carbon fiber grille too if this were a front-view picture.

Mechanically, we expect the Infiniti QX30 to ride on the same Mercedes-Benz-sourced MFA platform as the previously revealed Infiniti Q30. Like the Q30, Infiniti will likely launch the production QX30 by the end of the year as a 2016MY. Both premium cars will likely be offered with the same two engine options – either a four-cylinder diesel or petrol – naturally configured for front-wheel drive with AWD as an optional upgrade.

2013 Infiniti Q30 Concept interior

Although we don’t have any official images, we expect the interior of the Infiniti QX30 to hold a similar level of diverse luxury materials as the Q30 Concept did back in Frankfurt. That means they’ll use plenty of leather, metal/chrome and even ceramics to create a cabin that’s progressive enough for today’s young, premium crossover drivers.

All in all, this newest image of the Infiniti QX30 Concept certainly tells us a lot, but we can’t wait for the full reveal in Geneva next month. Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

2016 Demio / Mazda2 Hatchback Officially Revealed w/ Pics

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

We’ve been waiting to see the next-generation Mazda2 since the great-looking Hazumi Concept made its premiere at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. After an unexpected photo leak of the new production subcompact earlier this week, Mazda made the decision to release their full multi-media suite today as production officially began in Japan.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the 2016 Mazda2, known in Japan as the Mazda Demio:

2016 Mazda2 Demio

Wow. That’s one slick lookin’ supermini, very reminiscent of the Mazda3 sedan and Mazda’s Kodo design language as a whole. There’s no doubt that this little car, complete with its characteristic shield-style grille and swooping linear body, will be winning some design awards when it finally makes its global launch this fall. Ultimately, though, Mazda’s greatest reward will be driver satisfaction, and they’ve devoted a lot of time and detail into making this car both fun to drive and easy-to-use.

2015 Mazda2 Demio pink

Let’s start with the powertrain. The new Mazda2 will likely be available with two or three different engine options, depending on the market you’re in. The baseline trim will run on a 1.3L SKYACTIV-G petrol engine outputting a conservative 77hp. This engine makes up for its low power with incredible fuel economy; Japan’s highway test cycle rated it at around 70mpg, which is probably ~45mpg by EPA standards. There’ll also be a bigger 1.5L SKYACTIV-G with 99hp which probably will be available in the US, and a 1.5L SKYACTIV-D diesel engine with 104hp which probably won’t.

Of course, the Mazda2’s fuel savings can be attributed to more than just the powertrain… The Skyactiv suite covers the chassis, transmission, aerodynamics and Mazda’s overall engineering principles for a simple but efficient approach to fuel economy.

2015 Demio Mazda2 interior

Looking inside, Mazda has overhauled the interior with a beautiful black and red color-scheme which more than holds up to the aesthetic standard set by the exterior. And it looks just as good in any of the other color-schemes available too; the interior is always tailored to match the exterior color of your specific vehicle. You’ll also find a redesigned driver-focused gauge cluster with a tablet touchscreen positioned on top of the dash, as seen below:

2015 Mazda2 Demio interior

This cool little gadget can be controlled by the dial at the driver’s side, which makes it easy to use on the road. Mazda says, “The [Mazda2] also features a wide range of cutting-edge technologies such as the Mazda Connect next-generation car connectivity system, and a wide range of i-ActivSense advanced safety features that aid the driver in recognizing and responding to hazards.”

As you can see, there’s a lot to look forward to in the 2016 Mazda2 subcompact hatchback. Mazda has stated that the new model will go on sale in Japan by the end of this year, and come to the US sometime during 2015. We’ll get more details about the car prior to its global launch, probably along with some big debut at the Tokyo, LA or Paris Motor Show this fall.

Toyota Europe Reveals Facelifted Yaris Subcompact

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Toyota has just released first official photos of their new 2014 Toyota Yaris, facelifted especially for the European market. It was just about a month ago that Toyota Europe teased the new Yaris with a futuristic digital rendering, and we’re happy to say that the production version (pictured below) looks even better than the preview.

2014 Toyota Yaris Facelift

Let’s get this out of the way upfront: as of right now, this makeover is exclusively for the European market. A slightly more refined version will make it into the JDM Vitz, but this is a European car. You can’t blame Toyota for focusing on that market; the European compact segment is a nut they’ve wanted to crack for years now. The Yaris has done a good job so far, but this makeover looks to take it to the next level.

As you can see, a lot of this makeover has to do with the front clip and Toyota’s new “Keen Look & Under Priority” design concept. That means that this Yaris looks a lot like the new Aygo city car; it has the same cross-shaped bumper design with a visual separation between the hood and grille. You’ll also notice new door moldings and you can choose between four different 15- and 16-inch alloys. Meanwhile in the back, the new Yaris features a redesigned bumper complete with a diffuser, a sculpted license plate garnish, and new LED taillight clusters.

2014 Toyota Yaris Interior

Like any true makeover, the Toyota Yaris also gets a much more refined interior to go with its cleaner and more modern exterior. Toyota says that the inside of the new Yaris features “some important modifications aimed at improving driving pleasure and onboard comfort.” Later on in the press release, they revealed that most of the interior changes are in the materials used. But the makeover also includes more color options, more and better technology, and a more comfortable drive.

Speaking of driveability, Toyota has done some major tinkering with the suspension to make the new 2014 Yaris feel stronger on the road. They’ve also improved the soundproofing throughout the body to make those superior driving dynamics translate into even more interior comfort and fun.

The only thing that hasn’t changed in the newly facelifted Yaris is the powertrain. Toyota will continue to offer the same two petrol engines (1.0L & 1.33L) along with a 1.4L D-4D diesel or hybrid. However, the smallest of the three engines, the 1.0L petrol, has seen some major improvements to lower CO2 emissions down to 99g/km.

The Yaris as Part of Toyota’s Global Vision

In addition to the news of Toyota Europe’s facelifted Yaris, Toyota also announced that this new vehicle marks the start of a new vision for how Toyota develops new vehicles on an international scale. The strategy has been in the works since 2011 when Toyota president Akio Toyoda announced his Global Vision initiative which aims to meet global needs through regionalization.

Sound like a bunch of corporate talk?

Well, it is. But the basic point is that under Toyota’s Global Vision strategy, different regions will take on unique responsibilities for researching and developing new cars. For example, Toyota Europe will now take the leading role in planning compact cars. Why? Because those cars are the most relevant to their demographic. We can expect to see this trend of regionalized development continue as Toyota continues to grow in both size and market share.

Finally, you might say. After all, Japanese brands have struggled for years in Europe for being, basically, dull. With EU designers and engineers finally being given more control over their local product, expect to see more style and improved dynamics rather than Japanese corporate blah.

1999 Nissan Pulsar for Sale and a Brief History

Posted by Stephen On Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Yesterday we talked about Nissan’s newly unveiled revived Nissan Pulsar hatchback. Set to go on sale in Europe before the end of this year, the new Pulsar will be a premium-feeling family hatch. However, what you might not realize is just how much the new Pulsar embodies the vision of the old one. As it turns out, there are several original Nissan Pulsars up for auction in Japan, so we pulled one up to show you where the new car got its roots:

1999 Nissan Pulsar Front

Pictured above is a 1999MY Nissan Pulsar. The original Pulsar launched in Japan all the way back in 1978 as a five-door hatchback with front-wheel-drive. The car was also known as the Cherry or Sentra in some international markets, while it was branded under the Datsun marquee in others like Australia. It was distinguished from same-class hatchbacks by its longer-than-normal nose, which Nissan envisioned would eventually allow for a sedan variant, as seen in the 1999MY Pulsar above. And, just like the new version, it originally shipped with two relatively small engine options – a 1.2L with 70hp and a 1.4L with 85hp.

The Nissan Pulsar made its way into Europe when its second generation debuted in early 1982, but the car really hit its prime 10 years later when its fourth-generation launched in 1990. The car continued to thrive throughout the ‘90s, particularly in Australia and New Zealand, although it never made it into the US. During its heyday, Nissan even developed a performance version by the name of the Nissan Pulsar GTI-R.

The Pulsar finally died in 2000 when it was replaced by the Nissan Sylphy. Still, the Pulsar name has been intermittently applied to various Sylphy models in Australia and Asia since that time, probably because of the old marquee’s popularity in those regions.

1999 Nissan Pulsar Interior

Today’s Japanese car auction find is a 1999 Nissan Pulsar from the car’s fifth generation, chassis number N15. As you can see, this particular vehicle is in decent condition (except for the oil leak) with only 67k kilometers on the odometer. Both the interior and exterior have an above average rating; the interior is graded a B and the overall rating is a 4.

Looking a little bit more over the auction sheet (pictured below) we can see that this is a Nissan Pulsar sedan, model CJ-I, which used Nissan’s GA15DE engine with an automatic transmission. This is a 1.5L petrol engine with dual-overhead camshafts (DOHC) and electronic fuel injection, capable of producing 104hp. This is one of the largest and most powerful engines a non-performance Pulsar ever saw.

You can probably tell that this 1999 Nissan Pulsar was never meant to be flashy, but it is highly functional. It became so beloved by Australia and New Zealand because of its staunch reliability, making it a great car for those who just want something simple with four wheels. Best of all, Pulsar models like this one typically go for around 33,000 Japanese Yen auction price, which is about $325 USD. You definitely can’t beat the price.

If you’d like to learn more, feel free to check out the auction sheet below, along with our full auction sheet overview below that:

1999 Nissan Pulsar Auction Sheet

Here is the translation:

“Interior B, no exterior condition grade, first registered March 1999, CJ-I Limited model, AT, AC, power steering, power windows, ABS, airbag, stone chips in front windscreen, interior grime, wheels scratched, engine oil leak, scratches and dents, has spare wheel with 10/10 tread, frotn wheels have 4/10 tread, rear wheels have 5/10 tread, other marks as per map”

Does the Hazumi Concept Preview a Premium Mazda2 Variant?

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Mazda Hazumi Concept

Previously, we hinted that Mazda may develop a premium variant of the new Mazda2 hatchback. We already knew they were planning to launch five new cars by March 2016, and this new premium subcompact is allegedly the fifth of those five. The rumor was validated earlier this week when a Japanese magazine called Holiday Auto received anonymous insider confirmation of the luxury Mazda2.

As you continue reading, we’re going to look at what those sources say about this Hazumi-inspired hatch, as well as what you can expect from the car when it eventually hits showroom floors.

The Next-Generation Mazda Verisa

You might not know it, but Mazda already has a premium-ish subcompact in Japan, although it’s extremely outdated. It’s called the Mazda Verisa (pictured below), and it’s remained mostly untouched since its original launch in 2004, the last minor refresh being in 2009. To say that it’s overdue for an update would be an understatement. As it turns out, it’s in for not just an update, but a complete replacement. Apparently the Hazumi Concept (pictured above) previews some of what that replacement will be.

2014 Mazda Verisa

We already knew that the Hazumi Concept from Geneva was intended to herald the next-gen Mazda2. Nothing about that has changed. It’s just that we now know why Mazda chose to unveil this particular concept at a major European motor show – they intend for the Mazda2’s premium variant to contend with European favorites such as the MINI Cooper, Citroen DS3 and the Audi A1.

The new Verisa will take nothing from the current Verisa except its name. It’ll be a completely new model that shares its platform with the Mazda2, although it probably won’t share any sheet metal. Holiday Auto’s inside sources indicated that the new Mazda Verisa would be globally available (unlike the current JDM-only model), and that it’d likely be larger than the outgoing subcompact MPV.

The insider elaborated about the new Verisa, saying, “It’s a luxury compact city car targeting also female users. In Japan, essentially it will be [marketed as] the Verisa’s successor… Furthermore, it is likely to add a hot version similar to Mini’s Cooper S, for which a 2.2L SkyActiv-D will be used.”

Even if you’re not a Mazda enthusiast, surely you can get excited about a Japanese-made hot hatch entering the ring with the best of the best from European automakers. Hopefully the premium Hazumi would make it into the States; it’d be refreshing to have a diesel-powered performance hatchback available.

As you can see, in the end we really don’t know what Mazda plans to bring to the table with their new premium model. However, while the upcoming Mazda2 will likely give up some of the Hazumi Concept’s flair, we hope that the Verisa successor will get a little extra. Either way, current expectations schedule the new Mazda Verisa for a 2015 Geneva Motor Show debut, so we’ll know for sure by this time next year.

2016 Mazda CX-9 Next in Line for SkyActiv Treatment

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

In the wake of the 2014 New York Motor Show, news has surfaced that the Mazda CX-9 is the next vehicle in Mazda’s lineup (after the Mazda2) to receive the ever-popular SkyActiv technology suite. However, there’s an interesting twist… Mazda is considering the development of their first-ever six-cylinder SkyActiv engine to economize its large SUV; it would be their first V6 engine since the ‘90s.

The current Mazda CX-9 operates on a Ford-sourced V6 petrol with plenty of punch, but suboptimal fuel economy. For the large SUV to meet Mazda’s efficiency standards that come along with the SkyActiv moniker, change will need to be made, specifically a change of powertrains.

Engine Options for the Next CX-9

2014 Mazda CX-9

According to Masahiro Moro, Mazda’s chief of sales and marketing, they have two options for their next-gen SUV. In an interview with Australian automotive blog Car Advice, he described how the Japanese automaker is currently favoring the use of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine which would fit well with the rest of the SkyActiv lineup. This option also fits with industry trend and should in theory be the most cost-efficient option.

Still, Moro acknowledges that opinions differ and that the bottom line is what’s most cost effective. He describes, “If I ask Mr. Hitomi, our top guy of powertrains at Mazda, he believes the downsizing turbo solution cost more [than developing a six-cylinder SkyActiv engine].” In short, a six-cylinder SkyActiv engine is possible, but decisions are still being made.

However, Mazda definitely will NOT offer a hybrid version of the next CX-9. Moro said that even a diesel variant is unlikely, although more likely than a hybrid. He explains, “With the CX-9 the main market is the USA. In general, these customers don’t have a strong preference towards diesel engines. So probably the main engine should be a petrol engine in my opinion.”

Mazda Moving to Premium Market

Mazda Hazumi Concept

The other primary benefit of developing a six-cylinder SkyActiv engine is upmarket application. Mazda knows that they will need some sort of six-cylinder engine for their future expansion into the premium segment, although whether it will be a V6 or a straight six is undecided.

While we’re talking about possible premium cars from Mazda, we would do well to mention a recent report from our fellow automotive blog, Motor Trend. According to them, the Mazda Hazumi Concept we saw earlier this year at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show was NOT merely a preview of the upcoming Mazda2. Instead, their insider tells them that it also previews a luxurious subcompact that Mazda will use to break into Europe’s premium segment. They claim that this unnamed subcompact will be the fifth of the five cars that Mazda’s CEO, Masamichi Kogai, promised to release by March of 2016.