Mazda readies new powertrains

Automotive New reports on Mazda's model line changes.

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Automotive News

For its upcoming cycle of vehicles, Mazda wants to replace its entire powertrain lineup.

By 2015, Mazda will have given its gasoline engine lineup direct-injection spark ignition and idle-stop technology to improve fuel economy.

But it's more than just engines that Mazda is improving. Each new platform has a weight-reduction target of at least 220 pounds less than the previous vehicle platform. Although Mazda and Ford have worked together on platforms and component sets, Mazda is expected to show more independence from its controlling shareholder in terms of product offerings.

Mazda2: With the small-car segment hot, there is a sense of urgency to bring this car to America. But the four-cylinder engine that Mazda has certified for other models is too large for the engine bay, and the engine that fits the Mazda2 hasn't passed U.S. tests. Expect a 2011 model year introduction.

Mazda3: The restyled, re-engineered Mazda3 will debut in spring 2009 as a 2010 model. Mazda will keep the two-engine strategy, with small- and larger-displacement four-bangers. Look for Mazda to offer features frequently available on more expensive cars.

Mazda6: The redesigned U.S. Mazda6 sedan, arriving in dealerships this summer as a 2009 model, no longer is a world car. The North American model grows 4.5 inches in wheelbase and nearly 7 inches in overall length to become nearly as large as the Honda Accord. The engines are larger, too, with a 170-hp 2.5-liter four-banger and a 272-hp 3.7-liter V-6. The hatchback and wagon have been dropped.

MX-5 Miata: The tough economy has deleted any chance of a MazdaSpeed edition. What's more, any redesign of the current model has been pushed out to the 2012 model year, meaning it is on a seven-year cycle.

Kabura: A compact, sporty coupe derived from the rear-drive MX-5 platform is on the "most wanted" list, but Mazda in the United States needs Europe or Japan to sign on for volume to justify the program. Mazda may wait for the next MX-5 platform to launch the coupe derivative, meaning the 2013 model year or beyond.

RX-8: The redesign is far off--the 2013 model year. The rotary engine will grow from 1.3 liters to 1.6, the first displacement increase since the engine debuted two decades ago. Mazda promises better fuel economy and more power.

Mazda5: This mini-minivan was on the U.S. hit list until gasoline reached $4 a gallon. Now it's a star. Look for a redesign for the 2011 model year.

Tribute: Mazda's version of the Ford Escape likely will expire at the end of the current model cycle, if not before, to make room for the CX-5.

CX-5: Mazda will share the European Ford Kuga underpinnings and combine it with a design based on the Kazamai concept from the 2008 Moscow auto show. The CX-5 will be smaller than the Escape; Mazda wants to avoid cross-shopping with the CX-7. It may arrive for the 2011 model year.

CX-7: The 2009 CX-7's automatic transmission has been recalibrated for smoother shifts. Customer grumblings about the thirsty, peaky nature of the engine will result in a nonturbo version with better fuel economy arriving for the 2010 model year.

CX-9: Interior upgrades are expected for the 2010 model year.

B series: As long as Ford makes the current Ranger pickup, Mazda gets the B series. That's two more years at least.

(Source: Automotive News)

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