While theaters are bulging with “Star Wars,” auto dealer showrooms are embroiled in car wars as top-selling mid-size sedans butt heads with their latest models. Continue reading 2017.5 Mazda6 Grand Touring
Mazda’s power hardtop adds romance to Miata …
Love may be what makes a Subaru a Subaru, but Mazda’s MX-3 Miata has been luring drivers into its open-air summer of romance for 28 years, yet seems never to age.
That was with its soft-top model, but now comes its RF (retractable fastback) with power folding hardtop, and suddenly love turns to lust. While there has been a power hardtop model before, this one improves the Miata’s looks. Cosmetically it adds a Targa-like bar behind the cockpit that remains there after the roof has neatly folded down behind the seats. Think Porsche Targa profile, but much cuter and less costly.
Hold up a toggle on the center stack and in slightly more than 10 seconds the folding hardtop has powered down to transform the sporty metallic red roadster into a convertible. Where the old soft top let in a lot of wind and road noise, the hardtop muffles nearly all of it. Ah, you can cruise in style and listen to your stereo without straining an eardrum.
So the RF creates a quiet interior, resolving one of my few complaints of past Miata drives, plus creates a snazzier profile that had people asking me “What?” I was driving.
Still Mazda continues its mission of creating a simple car, a convertible that’s affordable, fun and won’t embarrass you at the gas pump. Mazda calls it zoom-zoom.
A couple years back Mazda slightly downsized the MX-5, a rare act in the car world. The goal was keeping it light and lively, not letting it take on a middle-agers’ weight around the beltline. Continue reading 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
Some cars are sexy, some are nasty, some are fast. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 racer is all of the above, a lawn dart of an automobile with a long nose and a monster rear wing. Looks like it could nail any competitor to the pavement.
Autoart creates a beautiful 1/18 scale version of the GT3 racer as it was presented to the media a couple years back in a gorgeous matte metallic gray paint scheme with yellow racing stripes and a No. 1 on each door. Who’s to argue with that?
If you’re deep into NASCAR or IndyCar racing you may not know much about GT3 cars. But Group GT3 cars are Grand Touring (get it?) cars that race in various series around the world. The GT3 designation started in 2005 under rules set by FIA, the international racing rules group.
In essence GT3 cars must be based on production GT cars and have 500 to 600 horsepower and weigh between 1200kg (2,645 lbs.) and 1300kg (2,866 lbs.). They also feature ABS, traction control and include built-in air jacks to facilitate quick pit stops. Currently about 40 cars have been approved, or homologated to race in GT3, including the likes of Audi, Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Ford (GT), Ferrari, Lamborghini, BMW, along with the Chevrolet Corvette and Dodge Viper.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 is built in conjunction with Mercedes’ AMG performance unit in Sindelfingen, Germany. Under its massive hood is a 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 that creates 622 horsepower, while the production model has a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that tops out at 577. The older naturally aspirated engine is simpler and more reliable for racing, hence the difference. Oh, and top speed is 206 mph. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s Mercedes-AMG GT3
Mazda isn’t the first car maker with a small personal-sized SUV, but it certainly has one of the most stylish and fun to drive with its new CX-3.
The CX-3 continues the tone set by Mazda’s slightly larger CX-5 that competes with the likes of Toyota’s RAV4, Subaru’s Forester and Ford’s Escape. But the CX-3, with its slight 101.2-inch wheelbase and 148-horse 2.0-liter I4 engine takes aim at the Chevy Trax and Honda’s new HR-V, among others. These are entry-level sport-utes with all-wheel-drive, minimal interior room and generally not loaded with the multitude of electronic whiz-bangs that push most vehicles to prices well beyond $30 grand.
CX-3 is targeted at entry-level buyers, the young couples or singles that want to sit a little higher like they’re in an SUV and also have the advantage of AWD, but don’t have big bank accounts. But Mazda’s little ute goes a step, or two, further. It offers style, such as a longer, more shapely nose, which gives this a more appealing look than the econobox on steroids that most such little utes offer. The interior also is stylish.
After all these years reviewing cars (30+) I find it hard to understand why Mazda doesn’t sell a lot more cars.
Its midsize Mazda6 is another gem that is sporty looking, handles well, provides a comfortable ride with good power and delivers extremely good fuel economy. Sounds like a lot of checkmarks in the average buyer’s “want” boxes.
Yet Toyota’s Camry and Honda’s Accord, among others, outsell the Mazda6 regularly, and have for years. Could it just be buying habits that work against other sedans that easily challenge those top dogs? Could be. But if you’re looking for a midsize family car with more pizazz, then the Mazda6 should be dead center on your radar.
I drove a sharp looking Blue Reflex (light silvery blue) Grand Touring model. That’s top of the line, so it’s loaded with standard equipment, leather seats, etc., plus this one added the $2,180 GT technology package, a cargo mat and door sill trim plates to push a $30,195 base price up to $33,395, including an $820 delivery fee. That’s almost exactly the average selling price for a new vehicle these days.
Here’s what you get and how it drives. Continue reading 2016 Mazda6 Grand Touring
When it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Mazda’s designers and brain trust have shown great wisdom to follow that axiom with the Miata sports car.
For 25 years now the MX-5 Miata has made its mark by NOT changing much. There have been tiny body styling tweaks and interior tucks and thankfully the horsepower grew from 116 originally to 167 today. But Miata has remained true to its original design and purpose, being a lightweight, superb handling sports car with enough pep to put a perpetual smile on a driver’s face.
Soon Mazda will unveil a new Miata, and we’ll hope the designers still don’t break what isn’t broken. But for now we can relish in the fun and modest price tag the current model embodies.
Two years have passed since I last drove a Miata and reading back over that review I couldn’t find anything I’d disagree with from the most current drive. Here’s my latest synopsis.
The “true red” test car was the mid-level Club model with a black power hardtop. That means it’s a convertible, but the hardtop keeps it quieter inside than the standard cloth top. Naturally you pay more, but Miata is still a value-minded roadster. The base Sport model with soft top lists at $24,515 with delivery and the tested Club with hardtop was $29,460, with delivery. Moving up to the Grand Touring hardtop pushes the sticker to $31,345. Continue reading 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club
Mazda3 delivers good looks, modest price, driving flair
The new Mazda3 is better looking than its predecessor, gets better gas mileage and still delivers driving flair, a fair accomplishment for a modestly priced family sports sedan.
First, Mazda reshaped its former gaping smiling nose with this more Audi-like big grille and swept its profile lines back enough to make the tested 4-door sedan look almost as good as the hatchback version. This is a low, lean, lithe sedan at just shy of 2,800 lbs. in this brilliant “soul red” test car.
Like other automakers, Mazda also has grown its formerly subcompact to compact dimensions, with a 106.3-inch wheelbase and 180.3-inch long body. The result, a car that handles four adults easily and offers a fair sized, 12.4-cubic foot trunk.
That’s the practical side, then there’s the fun stuff, like how the car performs (although still highly efficient) and all the tech features that you get.
Mazda uses what it calls Skyactiv technology to provide a high-revving, high-performing four-cylinder engine that also remains surprisingly fuel stingy. The base car, and the tested Grand Touring, top trim level for the base i models, features a 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G I4 that creates 155 horsepower. That’s tops, says Kelly Blue Book, for base models in this segment. Next in line are the Mitsubishi Lancer and Kia Forte at 148 horses. Continue reading 2014 Mazda3i 4-door Grand Touring