What sets the car sales zoom­ing?

The Jewish Chronicle - - Motoring -

MA Z D A HAS just p u l l e d off a feat t h a t i s a l m o s t u n i q u e i n E u - r ope. I t has re­ported high sales in Septem­ber — and an all-time record for the com­pany in the half-year from April to Septem­ber.

The se­crets of Mazda’s suc­cess are in­no­va­tion, qual­ity and an en­thu­si­asm for motoring demon­strated by its “Zoom-Zoom” slo­gan.

Mazda is the only com­pany to have per­se­vered with the con­cept of the Wankel ro­tary en­gine, and de­vel­oped it suc­cess­fully as the power unit for the RX-8 — a car that looks like a coupé but is ac­tu­ally a four-door sa­loon.

The rear doors are back-hinged and have no ex­ter­nal han­dles. You can’t open the back doors un­til the front ones have been opened and then they make ac­cess to this pil­lar-less car ex- tremely easy.

Soon af­ter the JC tested the RX-8 in Fe­bru­ary this year, the car came in for some re­vi­sions, which made the en­gine more re­spon­sive, al­though still giv­ing the same power out­put. Some de­sign changes were also made in the cabin.

The Wankel en­gine, with no pis­tons or valves go­ing up and down, is ex­cep­tion­ally smooth and quiet. Its down­side is that it is al­ways a bit heavy on fuel and ex­haust emis­sions.

But this is just one of a wide range of Mazda mod­els. Among the most pop­u­lar and suc­cess­ful is the sporty lit­tle MX-5 two-seater con­vert­ible, a de­light to drive and with charm­ingly el­e­gant styling.

At the Paris Show ear­lier this month, the MX-5 came in for mi­nor styling changes and it is set to con­tinue in pro­duc­tion for a long time yet.

Changes to the en­gine are said to make it sound more sporty when ac­cel­er­at­ing, and it has a higher rev limit. A six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion will soon be­come avail­able for the MX-5.

Also in Paris, Mazda launched a new high-per­for­mance 2.2-litre diesel en- gine for the big five-seater Mazda6. Mean­while, the lit­tle Mazda2 be­came avail­able with a 1.6-litre diesel. This new Mazda6 en­gine will be of­fered in three ver­sions, with power out­puts from 124 to 183 bhp and fuel con­sump­tion claimed to be as low as 51.3 mpg.

The Mazda6 will fea­ture a rear ve­hi­cle mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem that warns the driver of the ap­proach of an over­tak­ing ve­hi­cle. The sys­tem sounds an alarm if the driver in­di­cates an in­ten­tion to turn when the car is about to be over­taken.

The lat­est evo­lu­tion of Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom tech­nol­ogy will be a com­pletely re­designed ver­sion of the Mazda3, changed for the first time in five years. It will be un­veiled at the Los An­ge­les Show on Novem­ber 19.

Also re­vealed at Paris this month was Mazda’s Kiy­ora con­cept car, in­tended to be the model for a fu­ture city car com­bin­ing very low emis­sions with high lev­els of safety and driv­ing fun. It has a light­weight car­bon fi­bre body struc­ture with an aero­dy­namic outer skin and is pow­ered by a 1.3-litre di­rect in­jec­tion petrol en­gine.

The Kiy­ora’s CO out­put is claimed to be un­der 90 g/km. It’s a long way from be­ing a pro­duc­tion pos­si­bil­ity at present, but shows Mazda’s determination to en­sure that cus­tomers con­tinue to en­joy their Zoom-Zoom ex­pe­ri­ence while still be­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly.

One of the nov­el­ties of Kiy­ora is its seat­ing ar­range­ment, which al­lows it to be used a two-seater with a boot, or as a 2+2 when there is need to carry four peo­ple.

Re­duc­ing ve­hi­cle weight and in­creas­ing en­gine ef­fi­ciency are the key con­cepts for what Mazda calls its Sus­tain­able Zoom-Zoom plan, to en­able it to keep on build­ing cars that ap­peal to cus­tomers and give them driv­ing en­joy­ment, in spite of the ever-tighter re­stric­tions.

Unique spin on the sports car: the Mazda RX-8 with ro­tary en­gine

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