Refined Performance About To Hit the Road
Mazda recently invited the press to its North American R&D Center for the World Debut of the 2017 Mazda3 and Mazda6, their compact hatchback and midsize sedan that continue to be among
the most stylish and fuel efficient in their class.
Engine and transmission specifications were not finalized at the World Debut, but both models, with front-wheel drive, utilize Mazda’s Skyactiv engine and vehicle design philosophy. Comprised of technology aimed at increasing fuel efficiency and engine performance, Mazda says Skyactiv is a “smarter approach to making driving better” by designing body construction and engine technology that directly maximizes driving dynamics and efficiency. And nothing says efficiency more than fuel economy ratings by the EPA.
Robert Davis, senior VP, U.S. Operations, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) said: “At Mazda, we focus our efforts on building the best-performing, most fuel-efficient vehicles in their classes without compromise. We’re very proud that our unique Skyactiv technology has allowed Mazda to achieve the highest fuel-efficiency of any other mainstream automotive manufacturer for three years in a row…even without offering a hybrid in our vehicle lineup.”
This is impressive as Mazda is doing it with normally aspirated gasoline-powered engines—no turbos, superchargers, diesels or hybrids (though Mazda sells a diesel version of its Skyactiv technology elsewhere in the world and continues to say it will bring it to the U.S.). Mazda also continues to use six-speed automatic transmissions (plus the wonderful, short-throw five-speed manual in the Miata MX-5) and has not introduced a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The CVT has been adopted by many auto manufacturers as it has been shown to be more fuel efficient than conventional automatics. For Mazda, its automatic transmission has tight, smooth and quick shifts with an eye on precision that increases fuel economy.
Following their Kodo—Soul Of Motion—design language, both the 3 and 6 have received refinements and small tweaks to already well-received body styles. New for 2017, the Mazda6 as part of Mazda’s premium value strategy has a new interior package that includes Nappa leather and refinement of build details. Mazda is also proud of an all-new steering wheel for the 3 that as they say received “extensive ergonomic research…to investigate how humans grip a steering wheel and what shape would provide the best grip.” Since the World Debut was not a drive event, I can’t wait to slide behind the wheel of the 2017 Mazda3 and see what this steering wheel is all about.
Both the 3 and 6 have received the addition of torque vectoring, Mazda calls it G-Vectoring Control (GVC), which is designed to improve and enhance handling and the overall driving experience. GVC uses the engine to improve chassis performance with the effect being a natural driving feeling resulting in better responsiveness and stability.
Color & Safety
The Mazda6 was completely redesigned in 2013, received a major refresh for 2016 and now for 2017 adds a new color, Machine Gray Metallic. The 2017 Mazda3 five-door hatchback sports a new
grille that accentuates the V-pattern and adds emphasis by adopting LED headlights, which Mazda says makes the “car’s eyes (have) a more daunting expression.” LED taillights now grace the hatch. New colors for the 3 are the aforementioned Machine Gray Metallic and Eternal Blue Mica.
The 3 and 6 already have the full complement of safety technology systems, but the Smart City Brake Support system (SBS) has been improved to detect vehicles and pedestrians over a wider speed range of 9-99 mph. SBS will automatically apply the brakes in the case of a detected collision.
Pricing for the 2017 Mazda3 and Mazda6 has not been released, but you can anticipate both models to be competitive within their compact and midsize categories.
The Rest of the Lineup
Mazda’s three sport and crossover utility vehicles in their lineup are considered by many to rival the best in the industry. But to their credit, the company continues to see the importance of sedans, coupes, hatchbacks and even a convertible, including offering a manual transmission. That makes Mazda one of the most innovative and diverse auto companies in spite of its limited lineup. Its famous Zoom Zoom is more than a marketing slogan as it is their DNA.
Clean Fleet Report will have full driving reviews on both the Mazda3 and Mazda6 later this year. We are looking forward to experiencing the evolution of these two cars, both of which we anticipate to be even better than the Mazda’s we have driven over the past few years.
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