The driver controls the vehicle as naturally and easily as if it were an extension of his or her own body.

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It took Japanese brilliance to truly get it right in the production of a reliable and affordable roadster in the shape of the Mazda MX-5.

(more…)

Surprisingly, the smaller 2.5-litre inline 4-cylinder power plant delivers more wallop than the Ford-derived 3.7-litre V6 engine the previous model used.

(more…)

The all-new Mazda MX-5 has been named World Car of the Year making it a double win at the New York International Auto Show as the popular roadster scooped the top spot in the design category too.

Mazda, one of the smaller Japanese auto manufacturers, is no stranger to the World Car Awards program – now in its 12th year – winning the top car award once before and top three votes twice.

The Mazda2/Mazda Demio was the 2008 World Car of the Year. While the Mazda3 (2014), Mazda6 (2013) and Mazda MX-5 have all earned “Top Three in the World” status as voted by the 70 plus international automotive journalists that make up the jury.

Mazda MX5 RF
Mazda MX5 RF
Toyota MIRAI
Toyota MIRAI
BMW 7-Series
BMW 7-Series
Audi R8 coupe
Audi R8 coupe

The MX-5 was chosen from an initial entry list of 23 vehicles from all over the world, then a short list of ten, then three finalists: the Audi A4 Sedan/Audi A4 Avant, the Mazda MX-5, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC.

“What a wonderful honor, to have the Mazda MX-5 named World Car of the Year,” said Masahiro Moro, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations. “As our iconic MX-5 roadster approaches one-million units of production, this award is proof that it is as young, vibrant, fun and relevant as ever.”

The World Car Awards jurors observed that, “With the launch of its all-new MX-5, Mazda has thrown out the blueprint and gone back to basics – back to 1989 basics. Shorter, lower, wider and – most importantly – lighter, the new MX-5 comes with a choice of either 1.5 or 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engines.”

The announcement came hot on the heels of Mazda revealing its new retractable hardtop version of the model.

To be eligible for the overall World Car award, the candidates must become available for sale on at least two continents during the period beginning January 1, 2015 and ending May 31, 2016.

The BMW 7 Series was declared the 2016 World Luxury Car. BMW has won the World Green Car title two years in a row (2015 – BMW i8; 2014 – BMW i3) and in 2008 for the BMW 118d with Efficient Dynamics.  In 2006, the BMW 3-Series was the World Car of the Year while in 2014, the BMW i3 won World Car Design of the Year.

This year’s winner was chosen from an initial entry list of eight prestigious cars from all over the world, then a short list of three finalists:  the winner as well as the Audi Q7 and the Volvo XC 90.

The Audi R8 Coupe was declared the 2016 World Performance Car . . . again. R8 variants won the same award in 2010 and 2008, adding the design award in the latter year.

The Toyota MIRAI hydrogen fuel cell car won the 2016 World Green Car Award.

“Just as Prius changed the world nearly 20 years ago, the hydrogen-powered Mirai is ready to make history,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division.  “With a range of over 300 miles per tank, a refueling time of under five minutes, and emissions that consist only of water vapor, Mirai is leading the world forward toward a more sustainable future.”

The MIRAI was chosen from an initial entry list of eight new vehicles from all over the world, then a short list of three finalists that included the winner as well as the Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Prius Hybrid.

The Toyota Prius (2010) has previously earned “Top Three in the World” status for both the World Green Car and the overall World Car of the Year categories.

In addition, the Toyota GT86 was a “Top Three in the World” finalist for World Car of the Year in 2013; the Toyota iQ in 2009 for the same category; and the Toyota Harrier Hybrid in 2006 for World Green Car.

keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

Picking five top vehicles for the year is near impossible, but here are the ones that made the biggest impression on me (more…)

“The MX-5 is a car that can make you feel like a hero, or a champion without breaking too many road rules.”

Los Angeles, California.

The Law of Attraction suggests that we invite things into our lives that we project – or “like attracts like.”

For instance, if we’re positive people, I believe positive people will then gravitate to us.

Perhaps it’s because of a long-standing history, or love of the Mazda MX-5, née Miata, that our lives were once again intertwined for yet another round of memory making.

It’s hard to wipe the smile off my face when I have this two-door as a companion on a journey along the sinuous and slender roads of southern California.

It sparked girlhood feelings of giddiness and excitement as I shifted through the gears of the new and lighter six-speed manual transmission; remembering the times when I rode shotgun with my mom in her red, 1990 Miata, when I would have rather been the captain.

It brought so much mirth into my life then and continues to do so today. With the introduction of the 2016 model, expect that merriment to be increased for MX-5 lovers. Ten-fold. Perhaps more.

One can look at the specs sheet, gripe about its 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0 L four-cylinder, and argue that’s not nearly enough power.

Through its renaissance, it loses 12 horsepower but gains eight 10 lb-ft of torque compared to the outgoing 2015 MX-5. Though I’d argue it can possibly convert even the blackest of hearts.

Less is more certainly applies in this case. I will agree that 155 horsepower isn’t a shocking number, and yes, it could have a little more gusto, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of flavour and flair.

The beauty of the MX-5 is that it’s still a driver’s car. And Mazda made sure that specific elements trickled down from generation to generation. Sure, specs, engines, transmissions, components would change, but at its core, it would stay the same.

That core involves the mantra of “from grandmas to Grand Prix drivers.”

Meaning, you can be from any walk of life and still have a blast behind the wheel.

That’s solidified with the fourth generation.

Without getting too technical, dimensionally, it has changed. It’s actually smaller – the overhangs in the front and rear don’t hang as much – yet space is used even more efficiently inside. The driver sits lower, and so does the engine.

I’m not a particularly tall individual, but my driving partner, an above average height male, didn’t find himself as cramped as he thought he would be. Even when we put the top up, claustrophobia was nowhere to be found.

And speaking of top up driving, cabin noise is reduced significantly. Thanks to an aluminum front panel and insulating headliner, wind noise is cut by 40 percent.

With the top down, engineers have used their wizardry – or in this case, scientific knowhow – to keep cabin wind at bay and to allow conversations to be carried on without having to yell. And without too much hair being blown around. Side note: ladies, bring a hair tie just in case.

Perhaps MX-5 admirers should also bring their sunglasses, because this front-engine, rear-wheel drive car is hot. Hot meaning sexy. And sexy in regards to its styling.

The MX-5 fully embraces the Kodo or “Soul of Motion” design language that inspires clean and crisp lines on new and future Mazda products.

You won’t find hard edges on this car, but you will find a flowing form that is highly attractive at a standstill.

While the looks of a car are essential, it’s not what the MX-5 relies on for its cult-like following. It’s the drive. The MX-5 is a car that can make you feel like a hero, or a champion without breaking too many road rules.

It’s a car whose steering, suspension and transmission work so seamlessly together with the driver that it requires effort not to enjoy yourself.

If the Laws of Attraction are yet again on my side, the 2016 Mazda MX-5 and I will cross paths again. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

The 2016 Mazda MX-5 (the GX trim) has a starting MSRP of $31,900. The GS has an MSRP of $35,300 and the GT of $39,200. All three trims can be outfitted with the six-speed manual or the six-speed automatic for the same price.


 

Visit www.mazda.ca for more information.

Contact the writer at alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybe [dot] ca

 

“The basic ingredients aren’t so basic even in the base model! (more…)

“Green cars were in evidence in Montreal but when the shows reach the west, you can expect to see many more cars for the eco-conscious drivers.”
(more…)

If you want a mid-sized crossover that will stand out from the crowd, take a look at a 2015 Nissan Murano, and its new price tag!”

Crossovers are the most in demand vehicles in any market you can name…

Toyota Highlander
Toyota Highlander
Nissan Murano
Nissan Murano
Mazda CX-3
Mazda CX-3
Lincoln MKC
Lincoln MKC

Mazda CX-3

Freshly unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Mazda CX-3 is an all-new compact (crossover) utility.

Like all the latest Mazda products it comes with that distinctive Kodo (Soul of Motion) styling theme and it’s the fifth in a series of the new-generation models to feature the full-package of Mazda’s ground-breaking Skyactiv (fuel-saving) technologies. In dealers next summer (as a 2016 model), the CX-3 is expected to become a new core vehicle in the Mazda line-up.

Power comes from a 2.0-litre gas engine linked to a six-speed automatic transmission and Mazda’s new-generation AWD system. This system employs an active torque control coupling, first used on the Mazda CX-5, plus a new and unique front wheel slip warning detection system. New technologies available include a Mazda Connect infotainment system and its (radar based) i-Activesense active safety system.

The CX-3 has an extra long hood and a flowing shape that raises at the rear to convey a look of strength and power. Large diameter wheels are pushed to the body ends and it has a long 101.2 wheelbase. The chassis employs a lightweight torsion beam rear suspension system.

Forward positioning the front wheels allows the driver extended leg room, on the inside, and space for a hinged (organ-type design) gas pedal. Seating is provided for up to five and the rear seat occupants sit a little taller than those in the front.


 

Lincoln MKC

Agile, athletic and fuel-efficient are not words you probably associate with Lincoln vehicles, but they can be used to describe the MKC. This all-new and attractive premium compact utility vehicle fits nicely into a revitalized Lincoln line-up that’s more in tune with today’s luxury vehicle buyer. Powered by either a 2.0-litre (10.9L/100km), or optional 2.3-litre (11.2L/100km), turbocharged four-cylinder (EcoBoost) engine, the MKC has a starting MSRP just under $40,000 and comes in three trim levels. All wheel drive is standard plus continuously controlled suspension damping, adaptive electric power-assisted steering and active (cabin) noise control are included in a group of advanced technologies called Lincoln Drive Control.

The MKC’s extra-large rear liftgate is a distinctive wraparound design that includes the full-width LED taillights. Created by using a unique hydro-forming process it gives the MKC a smooth, clean rear appearance and the wider opening provides easier access to its cargo area. A clever optional power feature also allows hands-free operation, to open or close the liftgate, by using a kicking action.


 

Toyota Highlander

This third generation of Toyota Highlander is sleeker, more fuel-efficient and larger, with three rows of seating, for up to eight occupants. It’s also available in four (3.5-litre) V6 engine editions plus three (V6) hybrid powertrain editions.

The fuel-frugal base LE trim ($31,975) is the only front-drive version. Limited ($45,395) is the top-line all-wheel drive edition and hybrid editions range from $44,015 to $52,990. The 3.5-litre V-6 can generate 270-horsepower and it’s mated to six-speed automatic transmission. Towing is rated at 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs) and a transmission cooler is standard, however, the tow hitch, with a wiring harness, is an option.

While you gain the cool-factor of its utility, as a people-mover it can’t match the practicality of a minivan. Maximum cargo space of 2,370 litres (with second and third rows folded) isn’t close to the Toyota Sienna minivan’s 4,247 litres. Then again, Highlander has real off-road credentials. Good ground clearance, hill-decent and four-wheel-drive locking features keep Highlander in-touch with its roots.


 

Nissan Murano

If you want a mid-sized crossover that will stand out from the crowd, take a look at a 2015 Nissan Murano, and its new price tag! This third-generation design takes the Murano’s car-like styling to a new level in the utility segment. It’s offered in four trim levels – S ($29,998), SV, SL and Platinum and there’s a choice of front-wheel (S, SV) or all-wheel drive (SV, SL, Platinum).

The start price has been reduced by $4,500 (versus the 2014 Murano S) and prices have dropped on almost all trim levels, even though the new Murano comes with more equipment. Power comes from a 3.5-litre V6 engine connected to an Xtronic (CVT) transmission.

The 2015 Murano has reduced weight (approximately 145 pounds) versus the previous generation, low rolling resistance tires, air grille shutter, low 0.31 Cd, underbody covers that enhance underbody airflow and improvements to the Xtronic transmission.


 

Honda CR-V

There are many very good reasons why the Honda CR-V is Canada’s best-selling utility vehicle and it gets significant enhancements for the 2015 model year. Honda claims this is the most significant mid-model cycle refresh in its history and the changes include a new direct-injected Earth Dreams Technology i-VTEC engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Although the current (2014) CR-V provides good fuel economy, the new powertrain combo is even better. When both model years are measured with the new NR CAN’s 5-cycle test method, the combined fuel savings for a front-drive 2015 edition is 1.3 L/100km and the 2015 all-wheel-drive version is 1.1 L/100km more frugal than its predecessor.

In addition to enhanced exterior and interior styling, CR-V also gets a new suite of Honda Sensing safety and driver assistive features, plus some new standard and available features. And there’s more good news, the 2015 Honda CR-V comes with a lower start manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $25,990.

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Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

 

 

2015 Mazda MX-5
2015 Mazda MX-5
2015 Mazda MX-5
2015 Mazda MX-5
2015 Mazda MX-5
2015 Mazda MX-5

The 2015 model year vehicles are rolling into dealerships, with just a few stragglers set for later arrival in the New Year. (more…)

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