90 Years Young

90 years is quite a time span in human lives. The average life span is 67 years in the world today. Mazda (Toyo Kogyo) will be celebrating 90 years in 2010. We can thank Jujiro Matsuda for getting the company going in 1920 which led to the manufacturer of the cars we all love to drive. So for the 90 anniversary what is Mazda up to? I myself was hoping for something crazy to show up but it looks like there is just going to be a few special edition models available in Japan.

There will be a special “Gunmetal Blue Mica” version of the Mazda 3 (Axela in Japan) equipped with the 2.0 DI engine and I-Stop is available.

So far there are no plans for the 90th Anniversary Mazda 3 to make it to North America but that could change if we protest enough.

Mazda also has plans for a 90th Anniversary version of the Biante. A Biante is a compact minivan in the Japanese market. It will be available with the same 2.0 DI engine and I-Stop as well. I have not been a fan of the Biante styling myself but for its size you can haul 6 people comfortably and some cargo. Think of it as a different looking Mazda 3.

Who knows maybe Mazda will surprise us this year with a new rotary powered machine for the 90th anniversary. So far it has been quiet from my contacts in Japan but you never know. Mazda could be keeping a surprise on the down low.

Derrick

Mazda Racing Around the World

I enjoy reading up on how Mazdas are being raced around the planet and seeing how teams use their tools (in this case Mazdas) to race it out with the other manufacturers. There are plenty or examples out there but I want to show just a few from overseas.

Starting off in Australia, the Bathurst 12 hour race is set to take place on Feb 12-14th. In Class C performance hatches and sedans there will be a pair of Mazda MPS 3 (Mazdaspeed 3 to us in North America) being raced by Osborne Motorsport. Hopefully there will be no off course adventures like in the past where Len Cave rolled his car 9 times. The good part is Len walked away from the wreck, the bad part the car was a write off.

New Zealand’s GTRNZ race series had a win by Brian Gray in the GT2 class recently He is running a “made it myself” RX-7 which features a 26B 4 rotor, 6 speed Holinger gearbox and a winter quick change rear diff. If you have never heard a 4 rotor, it is an incredible sound; it really reminds me of a Formula 1 engine at higher RPM. Picture credit goes to Dave Ayers below.

On the Japanese front, Knightsports placed 2nd in a battle during the Macao Grand Prix in the Road Sport Challenge. It was a great race and it came down to Tanigawa in his RX-8 and Sun Tan in a Mitsubishi Evolution at the end. You can see the video from the race here. The end of the race came down to less than a half a second between the two drivers. If Tanigawa had another lap I think he could have passed Sun for the win.

So what are you waiting for? Get your Mazda out there and join in the fun! Even a local autocross event or a high performance driving school or event can provide you with a chance to see what your Mazda can really do.

Derrick

I-Stop

Mazda has developed a system for the DISI direct injected engine which allows the engine to turn off when you come to a stop. When you push the throttle again the vehicle starts back up smoothly and you continue on your way. Why is this important you ask? The biggest reason is the fuel savings. In city driving it seems (and feels to me) like you spend more time at stop lights than actually moving. While sitting at the stop light your car is running and burning fuel. Mazda decided to do something, and make the car not run while stopped to save fuel. Mazda says the i-stop system can improve fuel economy by as much as 10%.

The picture below is from Mazda’s webpage and it shows the i-stop system and how it functions.

When you come to a stop the car turns off at a precise point, this allows the i-stop to turn back on smoothly. Because the motor is direct injected the system is able to restart in .35 seconds when you touch the throttle to move again. Mazda says this is half the time that conventional electric motor systems take. In reality, .35 seconds would be pretty tough to notice when you hit the throttle in your car.

You can gain up to 10% better fuel economy with a system that is invisible to the driver, what’s not to like? The 10% fuel savings is made during the Japanese government drive tests to rate fuel economy. The Japanese testing is different from how the US EPA does fuel testing, which results in a .25 mile per gallon increase with the i-stop system in place. Mazda has been discussing this with the EPA, and trying to get the testing changed but so far nothing has come out of it. With the gains not showing up with EPA testing Mazda is not sure if they will be offering the i-stop system in the North America. The extra cost and not being able to market the improvement is the biggest factor, because the US EPA testing does not allow for accurate estimations of gains. Cross your fingers the EPA will be willing to adjust their methods or we will get left out from one of Mazda’s good ideas.

I am hoping the system is available when the Mazda 2 arrives this summer. You could get a decent 40+ MPG car that you wound not be ashamed to drive every day.

Derrick