For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, let us give you a little bit of a background. Previously known as Laguna Seca Raceway, the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is a paved racing track used for auto and motorcycle racing.

Originally constructed in 1957, the track was built near Salinas and Monterey, California. Currently, the track is a little over 2 miles long, with a 180 foot elevation change. There are a total of 11 turns. Everything from American Le Mans to music festivals are held at the raceway.

Laguna Seca is Spanish for “dry lake”. (The track was originally a lake).

So what’s the news? Mazda has decided to extend its partnership with the raceway. Mazda has played an important role in improving operating conditions of the race track, as well as contributions  including funding for permanent pit lane garages, luxury hospitality, and more!

Jay Amestoy, VP, Public Affairs and Motorsports for MNAO said, “We first fell in love with this track and the Monterey peninsula as fans in the 1980s and ’80s when Mazda was new to the U.S. and we were establishing our name with the American public and race fans. Our successful partnership with SCRAMP and the Monterey County Parks Department during the last dozen years has made the raceway our home-away-from-home.”

Glad to still be associate with an amazing track!

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The IIHS’s newest Top Safety Pick: 2013 Mazda Cx-5

Mazda’s new compact crossover is coming out of the gate strong, with the 2013 CX-5 garnering generally good reviews that include praise for its fuel economy and best-in-class handling. Now, Mazda can tout a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as well. The CX-5 snagged “Good” ratings across the board, including front, side, rollover and rear crash tests.

The CX-5 joins its stablemate, the Mazda3, on the 2012 Top Safety Pick list, which is growing rapidly. Just in the small SUV class that the CX-5 is categorized in, eight models are now listed, including the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Patriot (with optional side torso airbags), Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport,Subaru Forester and Volkswagen Tiguan.

Check out the video here:

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Mazda teams up with Dr. Seuss

Mazda is capitalizing on the new Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax movie, which opens next month, by collaborating with the movie’s creators to showcase its new Skyactiv Technology through two new commercials. The Japanese automaker worked with the filmmakers to shoot the 0:30 and 0:45 second spots with the new CX-5 crossover traveling through the “Truffula Valley.”

The new movie is based on the Dr. Seuss’ book The Lorax who is about a forest guardian. A“Seuss-ified” 3D-CG version of the Mazda CX-5 showcases how Skyactiv Technology is good for the environment. It is the first and only vehicle to receive the “Truffula Tree Seal of Approval.”

“We’re proud to be working with so many talented individuals to bring to life this wonderful partnership with Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax movie,” said Don Romano, chief marketing officer, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO), in a press release. “We take a strategic approach when it comes to partnering with other companies and with the launch of our all-new, fuel-efficient, performance driven Skyactiv Technology, this seemed to be a natural fit. The collaboration and integration that went into creating these custom-animated spots featuring the Mazda CX-5 with Skyactiv Technology driving through ‘Truffula Valley’ is unprecedented.”

“The Lorax character’s view of the environment fits in exactly with Mazda and Skyactiv Technology, so the two were a perfect match for a commercial,” said Illumination Entertainment founder and CEO Chris Meledandri, in a press release. “By staying true to who the Lorax and other Truffula Valley animals are we were able to create a fun and engaging spot.”

For every test drive of a Mazda between February 20 and April 2, the automaker will donate $25 and up to $1 million to the National Education Association (NEA) as part of the organization’s Read Across America Program, which supports public school libraries nationwide.

 

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2012 Mazda3

“Mazda has been telling us all about its new Skyactiv technology it developed with revised ideas about designing and tuning both engines and transmissions.  They said there was weight reduction involved and improved chassis tuning, with the ultimate goal of better performance and mileage, lower emissions and the Mazda-exclusive zoom-zoom fun factor.


The company’s upcoming CX-5 crossover SUV will be the first to use full-blown Skyactiv technology, but the refreshed 2012 Mazda3 carries the engine/transmission combination that exemplifies the PZEV-rated Skyactiv designs.

A long drive, from Chicago to Indianapolis and back, with plenty of around-town jaunts in between allowed me to find out just how the new system works.

While base 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter engines are available without Skyactiv technology, this is the way to go.  The 2.0-liter DOHC in-line four-cylinder has variable valve timing and direct injection that gives it 155 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 148 pound-feet of torque at 4100 rpm.  Redline is 6500 rpm and, at 70 mph the tach shows a nice, low 2150 rpm.  The engine cover is bathed in a blue glow under the posted hood, just to remind the driver that this is a Skyactiv machine.

This front-wheel-drive sedan is coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission with extremely crisp shifts when used in manual mode.  The MacPherson front and multi-link rear all independent suspension works superbly over rutted and clear roads and has front and rear stabilizer bars.

As with most new cars today the Mazda3 Skyactiv sedan has stability and traction controls, together with ABS all-wheel front vented and solid rear disc brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution.  Power rack and pinion steering with variable assist is spot-on, has no on-center dead spots and perfect for the enthusiast driver, with 2.9 turns lock-to-lock.  The turning circle is a doable 34.2 feet.

The Mazda3 is of an appropriate size for its segment at 180.7 inches long, 69.1 inches side, standing 57.9 inches tall on a 103.9-inch wheelbase.  Curb weight is a lithe 2950 pounds, considering all the goodies Mazda placed on this car.  Mazda mounts 205/55R Bridgestone Turanza tires on articulated swirl twinned five-spoke 16-inch alloy rims that are very handsome to this writer’s eye.

Mileage is an exemplary 28/40 mpg from the large, 14.5-gallon tank.  The Mazda3 uses unleaded regular fuel despite its wonderful 12:1 compression ratio that allows it to retain the fun-to-drive nature expected from all Mazda cars.  I found this mileage accurate during a near-week up and down central America on a kindly broken-in car with over 3000 miles.

The Skyactiv 2012 Mazda3 has the company’s Grand Touring equipment that leaves the factory with a list price of $23,095 including fees.  There were only a few options: a $200 interior lighting kit that gave a soothing blue hue around the cabin; $275 for a compass/auto-dimming mirror with Homelink; and the technology package for $1400 with a blind spot monitoring system, bi-xenon headlights with auto leveling, Sirius satellite radio with four months subscription, a perimeter alarm, rain-sensing front wipers, pivoting adaptive front lighting system and automatic headlights.  The price came to $24,970.

Included in the price of this handsome Sky Blue Mica Mazda3 Skyactiv Grand Touring sedan is a tilt and telescoping steering column, leather trimmed seats and door panel inserts, eight-way power drivers seat, very necessary five-position front seat heaters, leather steering wheel and shift knob, a small navigation system in the upper central stack, tilt-and-slide sunroof and one-touch down drivers’ window, among other items.  This is an extremely well-equipped car for the money.

Spot on the money is the drivability of the new Mazda3 with Skyactiv technology.  The direct injection engine wastes less fuel and promotes better performance throughout the rev range.  Its usable linear power band is spread throughout the rev range and the little sedan feels more like a sports car than a family grocery getter.  Its drivetrain, suspension and brakes are all absolutely delightful!  Cut-and-thrust driving in Chicago traffic is easily accomplished and fun.”

-Anne Proffit

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Glimpse at the 2013 Mazda 6

The original Mazda6 was an especially fun, cheap and compact alternative to Japan’s other beige mid-sizers. And then they ruined it with the second generation. Mazda appears to have learned from their mistake with the 2013 Mazda 6, which just debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show as the Takeri Concept.

Mazda’s latest iteration of their “Kodo” design language — an attempt at sculpting the “soul of motion” — this new sedan recaptures the attractive and distinct lines that made us like the first car so much. it will be built on the company’s new modular steel platform, which should cut some of the model bloat.

Ray thinks it looks like a Jaguar XF, I think it’s a more successful version of what the Tesla Model S was hoping to accomplish. Either way it’s high praise for a car that’ll likely start in the lower $20K range… assuming enough of the concept design carries over.

Backing up the svelte aesthetic is the company’s SkyActiv technolgy, which focuses on improved efficiency through higher compression gas and diesel engines, mated to manual or automatic transmissions.

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Milestone

Mazda is currently looking to  new models and improved awareness to earn a 2.5% percent market share in the U.S. by 2014.

Mazda’s senior vice president of U.S. operations, Robert David, races RX-8s and MX-5 Miatas for giggles in his spare time.

That being said, Mazda wishes to boost their U.S. sales to 400,000 vehicles by 2014. This ambitious goal would be a 74% gain over 2010 U.S. sales of 229,566  . This would be a HUGE milestone for the company, since Mazda has never sold 400,000 vehicles in its nearly 40 years in the USA.

And the company faces significant obstacles. For instance, Mazda is highly vulnerable to the profit-punishing strength of the Japanese yen. Japan-made vehicles account for 85 percent of its U.S. sales.

Whether it will assemble vehicles in the United States to offset the yen’s pressure is unclear. Mazda said in June that it will cease production of the Mazda6 at the AutoAlliance International assembly plant in Flat Rock, Mich., when the car’s life cycle ends, probably around 2012. The plant is Mazda’s 50-50 joint venture with Ford Motor and its only U.S. manufacturing center. A new 140,000-unit plant in Salamanca, Mexico, is scheduled to be producing small cars in 2013. That output, originally meant for Latin America, also may come to the United States, Mazda says.

Also, Mazda is moving away from sharing high-volume platforms with Ford. That means that Mazda has to shoulder the full cost of vehicle development. But Davis says the company is ready to boost sales.

“Our product strategy and what we have in the pipeline is going to allow us to grow,” he said. “What that market share becomes and what the total sales number becomes depends really on where the industry ends up, but we see our growth led by our ability to keep our current customers and attract the young customers that we’re already doing pretty well with.”

Here’s what Mazda executives see as the brand’s strengths:

— A dealer network with more exclusive stores and improving customer-experience ratings.

— Higher-quality vehicles with strong residuals.

— Lighter, more fuel-efficient vehicles that maintain performance and show a new design language.

— More aggressive and focused advertising with a new agency.

Next spring’s launch of the CX-5 compact crossover kicks off a wave of major updates to some of Mazda’s highest-volume vehicles.

A redesigned Mazda6 is expected by the end of 2012, followed by redesigns of the Mazda3, MX-5 Miata, and CX-9 in 2013.

The redesigned products will ride on new lightweight platforms with new gasoline and diesel power trains that boost power and fuel economy, a system that Mazda markets as its Skyactiv technologies. Mazda also plans to add stop-start, regenerative braking, and hybrid technologies by 2016.

The product push is noteworthy: the vehicle platform and power trains set for launch are the first to be developed solely by Mazda in decades.

Mazda currently uses platforms shared with Ford Motor for most of its vehicles. But Mazda has no plans to share its new platforms and power train technologies for U.S. vehicles with Ford, which until 2008 held a controlling stake in Mazda Motor. Ford has been selling down its Mazda stake since then.

The equity agreement and long-standing product alliance gave birth to platforms that the companies share today. But there were drawbacks.

For example, the shared compact car platform that underpinned the Mazda3 was very cost-effective, Takahisa Sori, Mazda’s global R&D boss, said during an interview through an interpreter.

“But the problem with that was we could only use that with C cars,” Sori said. “We couldn’t use it for C/D cars or any deviating models.”

Mazda now plans to use flexible architectures, developed in-house, which can be adjusted to underpin future generations of the Mazda3, Mazda6, CX-5, and even larger vehicles, Sori said.

“It might be that the cross-sectional areas will be slightly different and the gauges [of steel] will be different, but the basic principles will be the same,” Sori said. “This can be deployed to all models.”

The approach can cut development costs by 20 percent to 70 percent per vehicle, depending on the segment and the number of components that can be shared from other vehicles, Sori said.

Here’s to the next milestone of Mazda!

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iPhone Users…

MyMazda is a Service iPhone App is the second application released by Mazda. Last year, Mazda released the award winning Mazda Roadside Assistance App “Mazda Assist”. This app was developed in partnership with Mazda’s roadside assistance partner.

“MyMazda” is one of the first automotive iPhone Apps of its kind to provide customers with real-time info about their vehicle. It’s also free! This App provides customers with easy access to service offers personalized to their vehicle, scheduled maintenance reminders, factory maintenance schedules, and other info about their Mazda in just a few taps.

In addition, owners can register their vehicles with Mazda, update their contact information, and select a preferred dealer for each car they register.

Got to love techonlogy!

 

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