Green Update–>Mazda Makes News

August 31st, 2010

Mazda Shinari concept

The recently revealed Shinari concept (above) embodies the new styling direction (called kodo) for Mazda. So say the company’s execs, one of whom also remarked, “We want to play in the same group as BMW and Audi.” (Well, yeah, who doesn’t?)

Kodo means “soul of motion,” but when kodo will move to production was not revealed. You can see suggestions of Fisker, Aston, and Jaguar, among other likely sources, but it’s quite a unique and beautiful, totally Japanese concept. The company insists that this will be the basis for next-generation Mazda cars.

So be it! The gaping wide-mouth grille is finished! Check out some Shinari closeups here.

Mazda is also touting its next-generation powertrains, called Sky. The gasoline engines, called Sky-G, have up to 20 percent better fuel economy and more low-end torque than the current powerplants—according to Autoweek.

And the company has apparently developed a better automatic, called Sky-Drive, with multiple clutches, a smaller torque converter, better shift times, and less slippage. The 2.2-liter Sky-D diesel also achieves 20 percent better fuel economy than the current inline four diesel.

2010 Mazdaspeed3With two turbos, variable valve lift, lighter weight, and lower compression, the Sky-D outputs 160 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque at, get this, 2,000 rpm. In a Mazda6 mule, engineers are claiming 43 mpg. The company is definitely getting hot on diesels, and the next-generation Mazdaspeed3 (right) reportedly may use diesel power—with no decrease in performance.

Whether the rotary engine will ever come back strong is, I think, doubtful, despite the claims to Motor Trend of Seita Kinai, Mazda’s senior head of R & D. Kinai mentioned the problems of fuel economy. Rotaries are gas hogs, as ratings of the RX-8 show, and high polluters.

1995 Mazda RX-7If Mazda can clean up the engine and make it more efficient through turbocharging, that might be a way out, though they’ve been trying to do that for years. It would be too bad indeed if the company had to dump its Wankel heritage. We’d like to see them bring back the RX-7, a great car.

Tell us what you think about the Shinari. Are you impressed?

—jgoods

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