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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
News of the Week – September 30, 2002

The big deal this week is the Paris Auto Show, better known to all you people that speak French as the Mondial d’Automobile. Henceforth, the highlights:

Mazda Minutes

As promised, Mazda revealed the MPS Mazda6 concept at the Paris show. Developed in Germany by Mazda’s European Research and Development Center (ERDC), this prototype is powered by a 280-hp direct-injected turbo version of the standard 2.3-liter DOHC four-cylinder. That power is channeled through a six-speed manual gearbox and an electronic AWD system with DCS (Dynamic Stability Control) and a limited-slip differential. Don’t look now, but production is strongly expected.

Speaking of production cars, the Mazda6 Sport Wagon was also officially unveiled in Paris. Powered by the same 2.3-liter four and 3.0-liter V6 engines as its sedan and hatchback counterparts, the sporty new hauler officially completes the line. All three variants are slated for sale in the USA.

On a more frivolous note, the new Mazda2 (Demio in the JDM) was revealed to European eyes. A fairly stylish little runabout, the 2 will be powered by several four-cylinder gas engines (1.3, 1.4 and 1.6 liters) plus one of Ford’s TDCi diesels for sales on the continent. Versions fitted with the 1.4-liter engine can take advantage of Mazda’s new ASM (Automated Shift Manual) automatic transmission, allowing the driver to select gears for himself or let the car do the work.

Links:
Mazda’s Paris Auto Show mini-site

Blue Oval Bits

Ford revealed its Focus C-Max concept at the Paris Auto Show. This is a preview of Ford’s upcoming people mover, in the vein of the Chrysler PT Cruiser or Pontiac Vibe, and is vitally important to Ford’s success in Europe as the MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) market is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s rumored that the name will be Focus MAV when it finally appears for sale next year in Europe, but there’s no word yet on whether it will come to the USA.

Engineering specifics are still not cast in stone, but the powerplant range is expected to include Ford’s new Duratec gasoline four-cylinder (a new design with VVT and direct injection) along with TDCi diesel units. The most important thing about this car, however, is that it will be the first vehicle to use the new corporate “C1” small-car platform. This is important to Mazda fans because recent rumors have implied that the Protégé/323 replacement due in 2004-05 (and probably called Mazda3) will ride the next Focus chassis. Stay tuned.

As a side note, Ford also introduced two variants of the tiny Ka minicar (the StreetKa and SportKa), as well as a new two-door hatchback version of the recently released Fiesta.

Links:
Ford Ka
Ford StreetKa preview
Ford Fiesta

Also of Interest

Remember back in January when Dodge’s neat little Razor sports coupe was shown at the Detroit show? The press and public absolutely loved it, but Chrysler officials were quick to shoot down any notion that the car might be produced. Skip forward to September’s Paris show, where Chrysler boss Dieter Zetsche hinted that though the lithe Dodge Razor “is not in front position to go into production,” showroom duty “is not a ‘no’”. Translating from the awkward double-negative, that means they’re still thinking about it. Potential competition for the Miata, perhaps?

More Miata pressure comes in the form of the new BMW Z4, which has become decidedly less attractive than its predecessor – if that’s even possible. Still built in South Carolina, the Z4 will maintain its fine performance standards via either of two straight-six engines (2.5 or 3.0 liters). Newly standard is a power convertible top. And no, the “bread-van” coupe version will not be returning. Not yet, anyway.

Competing with the new Mazda2 for a slice of Europe’s tiny-car market will be the new Opel Meriva, developed by the company’s Brazilian arm from the mainstream Corsa hatchback platform. Like the bigger Opel Zafira, Meriva uses a unique “Flex” seating arrangement with a flat-folding rear bench that allows for massive cargo space when needed. There’s not a large chance that this one will be hitting American highways, but one never knows. And along with the regular stuff, Opel also showed off a diesel-powered ECO Speedster coupe concept – yes, diesel-powered. Imagine 160 mph and 95 mpg from just 112 hp. Typically, those three figures don’t go together.

Renault builds upon its partnership with Nissan by using that company’s new small-car platform for their new Megane subcompact. Featuring the new, ultra-French “Renault look”, the Megane will be powered by a variety of home-grown four-cylinder engines. Unless there’s a massive shift in perceptions about small cars in the USA, there’s no way this eye-popper is coming here.

In other French-car news, Citroen’s new Pluriel (yet another competitor for the Mazda2) arrived to great fanfare – and with a tiny convertible version to boot. No, that one’s not coming to this country either. (Broken record, huh?)

Assumedly in recognition of criticism that the current Impreza is not the most attractive of vehicles, Subaru showed off a facelifted version in Paris that will be hitting the streets soon. Returning to “traditional” wedge-shaped headlamps, the updated Imp nonetheless manages to maintain an ugly streak by using an even larger air scoop atop its hood. No release date has been announced, but I’m guessing we’ll see the new look by next spring.

And finally, the new Euro-spec Honda Accord was revealed, looking quite a bit leaner and more aggressive (not to mention more attractive) than its North American counterpart. The rumor mill says that this sleeker Accord will be coming to our shores as an Acura, but that’s as far as it goes.

Links:
The Car Connection’s Paris Auto Show roundup

Next week – an update on Mazda in Japan.

Duncan Malloch (hondaboy) :D



Last edited by hondaboy81 at Oct 2 2002, 09:48 PM
 

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Thanks Dunc :)

When I upgrade the forum, if you're willing... you can become a 'news reporter' for the site, just copying and pasting the various Mazda tidbits you find and then I'll make them available on the site.

Eventually I want to have a full portal running, but with the upcoming software for the site I'm waiting... the forums are where all the action is at but I want to have a similar site to AudiWorld.com, but on another level :)
 

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Wow. A news reporter for MazdaWorld.org! Sounds like a huge responsibility D. :unsure: :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Originally posted by Shayaan@Oct 2 2002, 09:55 PM
Thanks Dunc :)

Eventually I want to have a full portal running, but with the upcoming software for the site I'm waiting... the forums are where all the action is at but I want to have a similar site to AudiWorld.com, but on another level :)
I kinda figured that was the idea all along. Like I said before, there really isn't a site geared to the whole Mazda community.

Have you ever seen Allpar? That's another site I tend to frequent, devoted to the Chrysler brands, and it pretty much has something for everyone - daily news, lots of product rumors and new model specs, "insider" info, performance tips (including racing tech articles) and a set of very inclusive forums.

Since this site is solely about Mazda, that makes it easier to compile news info - Mazda really only puts out a press release every week or two. But since the group on this forum seems fairly open-minded regarding products of other makers, I think it's best to keep a general "update file" regarding the competition.

In the meantime, I don't mind just throwing this sort of stuff up on the forums when I can. I simply like to write, and it's easy enough to copy and paste later...

Duncan :D - sure, I'll be the roving reporter

PS: I've finished Part II of the Miata development story; it will be posted in the Miata section shortly...
 
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