Mazda beefs up its volume products
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LOS ANGELES -- By the end of next year, Mazda will have redesigned vehicles with new powertrain technologies in the three highest-volume segments in the United States.
A redesigned Mazda6 mid-sized sedan arrives early next year, followed by a redesigned Mazda3 compact as early as late 2013. Those vehicles will join the CX-5 compact crossover that launched this spring.
A new diesel engine from Mazda's portfolio of Skyactiv technologies debuts next year in the Mazda6 and the company is considering including a diesel in the launch of the next-generation Mazda3.
Here are the highlights of Mazda's 2013-15 model years, according to company and other sources.
Mazda2: After two years of underwhelming U.S. Mazda2 sales, Mazda is rethinking its approach to the subcompact segment here. The Mazda2, a global car, is due for a redesign in 2014. But the next generation may not be sold here, one source says.
Low price is a major purchase consideration for subcompact buyers. The Mazda2's close proximity in price to the larger Mazda3 and the overall slow growth of U.S. subcompact sales have left a question mark over the Mazda2's future here.
If the next-generation Mazda2 gets the green light for U.S. sales, the car may appear in the 2015 model year.
Mazda3: A redesigned Mazda3 is expected to arrive stateside as early as late 2013 for the 2014 model year.
The car's new platform will adopt the fuel-efficient powertrains, lightweight chassis designs and frame architecture that Mazda collectively refers to as its Skyactiv technologies. Under the hood will be a 2.0-liter direct-injection engine along with a more powerful, optional 2.5-liter four-cylinder.
The company also may offer a diesel engine in the next-generation Mazda3 lineup, according to a source familiar with Mazda's planning. Mazda is considering whether to include the diesel engine at launch or as a part of a midcycle freshening a few years later, the source said.
Mazda is studying whether to put its i-Eloop regenerative braking technology in the next Mazda3. It is unclear if that technology will appear on the U.S. version of the car.
Gone will be the "grin" of the current generation Mazda3's front fascia. New sheet metal will adopt the brand's new kodo (Japanese for "soul of motion") design language, marked by the tiered hood, muscular fenders and wide-mouthed grille seen on the CX-5 and 2014 Mazda6 sedan.
Mazda5: The European-style small van was redesigned for the 2012 model year. The Mazda5's big markets are Europe and Japan, meaning the United States won't be driving many changes for the vehicle. A freshening is expected for the 2015 model, but don't expect much beyond changes to the grille and fascia and possibly the interior.
Mazda6: A redesigned Mazda6 sedan hits American showrooms in January, replacing the previous-generation mid-sized sedan after nearly five years of underwhelming sales.
The 2014 Mazda6 will adopt kodo styling and the full suite of Mazda's Skyactiv technologies -- including the U.S. debut of Mazda's Skyactiv-D diesel engines, a source close to Mazda's plans says.
A 2.2-liter, twin-turbo diesel will be offered as the premium engine choice for the Mazda6 to complement the car's 2.5-liter four-cylinder base engine. Prototypes of the diesel engine generated about 170 hp and 310 pounds-feet of torque.
Mazda may introduce the diesel in the Mazda6 a few months after the car's U.S. arrival to generate fresh buzz.
Regenerative braking also will be offered, likely as an option, on the U.S. version. The system converts kinetic energy created during braking into electricity and stores it in a capacitor, which powers the car's fuel pump, lights, audio, air conditioning and other auxiliary systems.
MX-5 Miata: Development is under way for the successor to Mazda's roadster, with a little help from Alfa Romeo under a joint-development deal announced in May.
The two companies are working out platform and powertrain details, but the plan is to stick to making the MX-5 Miata successor an affordable, lightweight, small rear-wheel-drive roadster, a source familiar with the process says.
Launch timing is undecided, but a 2014 release is possible.
Rotary-powered sports car: Mazda executives have insisted that development of the next-generation rotary engine continues, even after the final Renesis 1.3-liter engine rolled of the assembly line this year.
A source close to the plans says that Mazda is still working on a new rotary engine, but when the powerplant will return, and in what vehicle, are undetermined.
The priority for Mazda's r&d and engineering resources is getting Skyactiv technologies into the global marketplace, the source said.
CX-5: Mazda is adding an optional 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine to the compact crossover's lineup in early 2013 for the 2014 model, answering critics who say the vehicle is underpowered.
The CX-5 also will get a freshened interior and an enhanced connectivity and infotainment system. The CX-5's exterior design, new for the 2013 model, may get a freshening in 2016.
Mazda had planned to debut its new diesel engines in the CX-5 next year, but the Mazda6 was determined to be a better vehicle in which to introduce a diesel in the United States, according to a source familiar with the situation. Expect a diesel-powered CX-5 to follow.
CX-7: The crossover was killed after the 2012 model year.
CX-9: The biggest Mazda in the lineup gets a new front and rear fascia, grille and improved interior for its 2013 model freshening. But the timing of a redesign is being determined, with 2015 or 2016 models equal possibilities.
New engines or transmissions in the mid-sized crossover are unlikely until then.
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