Friday, February 15, 2013

I Feel For the Mazda 6

Being the owner of a 2004 Mazda 6, I always await the next generation release for the car hoping that they'll improve on the the formula that I believe they got so right for the first generation.  Sadly for the last generation, they fixed the one thing that was wrong with the car and added a whole bunch of other wrong things to the car.  Don't get me wrong, I still liked the fat 6.  It was a bruiser as the testbed for the Duratec 37 that would later go into the Mustang.  But they took away the manual and mostly all of the car's agility.  So I wasn't a buyer.

However, when the Kodo Mazda 6 started showing it's face, I was again intrigued.  The car definitely appeared to be regaining it's agility, but again Mazda can't fix the problems of the last generation without creating a bunch of new problems.  Notably, Mazda doesn't have a premium engine to put in the 6 due to their split with Ford.  I'm not unlike Mazda in that way, every time I fix something that is going wrong in my life I seem to create a bunch of new problems.  So sometimes, you just have to do what makes you able to move forward in your life even if it creates problems.  So that's what Mazda has done with the new 6.

Obviously the sheet metal is absolutely gorgeous.  While Nagare was universally stupid looking on every car that wore it, Kodo is the polar opposite.  Every vehicle that wears it has class leading looks.  Another issue that Mazda has addressed is the universal criticism of the fuel economy of Mazdas.  Skyactiv has changed the rules, the engine seems to get class leading MPG in every vehicle it goes into.  For example, the Skyactiv 2.5 in the Mazda 6 returns 26/38 (one less with a manual) with 185 horsepower.  No hybrid, no turbo.  For comparison, the Fusion returns 23/36 with it's 1.6 liter turbo engine that makes 12 less horsepower.  Problem Fusion?  The Accord that makes the same power but has a motorboat transmission only returns a single MPG higher in the city.  This is great for Mazda's mainstream appeal but for those of us that buy Mazdas, we don't care about MPGs.  So basically, Mazda has a great base engine here and has built a car that should easily compete with everything else in class and these cars are being sold as "i" models which would indicate that Mazda plans a higher end model.  But at this point, that higher end model is probably going to be a diesel with even less horsepower.

While being underpowered is not a sin for a Mazda, in this case it's just too underpowered.  The 6 needs a premium engine.  In the days of the Ford partnership they could leverage Ford equipment to fill the holes in their lineup, but these days that option isn't available.  So at this point all Mazda has is a four cylinder that may not even drag the car to 60 in under 8 seconds and a diesel that will probably be even slower.  It isn't a good position to be in, especially with Honda and Toyota's V6 engines being stronger than ever.

But Mazda is going in the right direction.  We have a great looking car with great handling and superior fuel economy and you can even still get a manual in the most base car.  Maybe a Skyactiv V6 is in the works, but probably not.  Some of us even dream that they might pick up an Alfa V6 from their co-op with Fiat but that's probably a longer shot than licencing another V6 from Ford.  The lack of a decent engine puts the Mazda 6 on the list of disappointing "almost there" releases in the past couple of years, and that's a shame.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hyundai is Building a Veyron Killer!

Concept image of Hyundai's new Veyron Killer.

A new Hyundai concept car climbs ever high up the ladder of expensive vehicles.  However, it is not a Lexus, Infiniti, Mercedes or even a BMW that Hyundai plans to compete with.  This time Hyundai plans to build a comparable vehicle to none other then the Bugatti Veyron.  Hyundai execs announced that the company has begun development on a two seat sports car that will have no less then 1000 horsepower, have All Wheel Drive, have a top speed over 250 miles per hour and cost less then the $1 million plus cost of the Veyron.  Hyundai had no sketches or actual equipment to show us but power is planned to come from a 16-cylinder engine developed by Hyundai and the body is expected to possibly resemble the Genesis Coupe but be built on a 'completely unique and all new platform'.
An artist’s rendering has been captured of Hyundai's concept Veyron killer (see below).  Sporting looks relatively similar to the Veyron, it seems that Hyundai is taking their usual 'Music Industry' approach to design and expanding on the winning formula developed by Bugatti.  Further details on the engine from Hyundai execs show the concept using an unspecified displacement 16-cylinder engine that has 6 turbochargers and at this time is churning out 1600 horsepower.  Hyundai expects the concept to be very close to the expected production version.  Hyundai has also released a name for this concept: skrrkkkll.  The name is meant to 'make the consumer think' about what they are looking for in a madly stupefying vehicle.  When asked for comment, Volkswagen head Ferdinand Piech asked us to follow him into the restroom where he promptly pooped into the toilet nearly cracking the porcelain.  We continue to wait with baited breath for more details on this thrilling concept from Hyundai.
I want it to be known that I am FIRST to break this massive story.  My source is legitimate!  My brother's friend's cousin's sister's dog's brother's mother's father's aunt's uncle's neighbor's cat's hamster's egg's brother's chicken's mother's grandfather's aunt's friend said that this is completely legit.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

BMW and Toyota Getting Together Is Logical

U mad?  Probably.  You've probably heard that Toyota and BMW are working together to maybe make a hybrid Supra and now it appears that they are going to make a Z4 based on the FR-S.  Enthusiasts are raging pretty hard.  Not quite infinity suns, but it's getting pretty close.  People generally think this is a bad thing and are mad at BMW for even considering it.  But the truth is, BMW wants this and it is a good thing for them.  They've wanted to be Toyota as bad as Toyota has wanted to be them and now they both have the chance to be each other.
At first glance, it would seem that BMW and Toyota getting together to make products is a complete disaster and a total sellout for BMW.  The "Ultimate Driving Machine" getting in bed with the leading producer of automotive appliances in the world.  But when you look at it from a business standpoint, it makes perfect sense.  The housing crash and subsequent destruction of the middle class took a lot of income from the target market for BMWs.  Rich people don't buy BMWs, upper-middle class people buy BMWs and when the upper-middle class can't afford the product anymore, something must be done.  So over the past few years BMW has slowly and carefully been moving down market.  It's a good move considering that their down market competitors like Cadillac and Infiniti are starting to make products that actually step on and maybe even over the mighty 3-series.  So BMW has been focusing their vehicles more towards comfort and gizmos more than the driving experience because the driving experience might win comparos at Car & Driver and MotorTrend but it doesn't sell anymore.  They've also been offering incredibly cheap lease deals, especially on the 3-series.  But they still have the old German car stigma that says that it will spend more time in the shop than it does on the road.  No matter what they do, they will have this stigma forever just like Hyundai will always be an economy car company that copies other cars and sells them at a discount.
But what if BMW was working with a company that was touted as the most reliable on the planet?  That might change things in the eye of the consumer.  BMW doesn't need any of Toyota's tech (except maybe the hybrid system), their engines or their chassis.  They need Toyota's image.  They need the image of reliability.  It's such a genius idea I wouldn't be surprised if Volkswagen AG was raging so hard they ripped all the papers on their desks and threw them around like confetti for not thinking of it first.  Now BMW can claim that you can have the badge and the reliability.  PROFIT!
But what's in this for Toyota?  Not a whole lot to be honest.  Toyota's current chassis and engines do everything they need to do and when it comes to N/A engines, Toyota is probably doing better than BMW at this point.  I know, shocking right?  Toyota doesn't need BMW diesels because hybrids sell better in most every market besides Europe.  BMW chassis are good for driving but bad for the appliance like feel that Toyota buyers have come to expect and Toyota has even shown that deep down they do still know how to build a sports car, kind of.  But nobody truly believes that Toyota knows what they're doing and that's why the whole F-Sport BS that Toyota is pulling with Lexus is just a joke.
Which brings me to what Toyota needs from BMW.  They don't need tech, chassis or engines.  They need BMW's image.  They need to be considered as better driver's cars.  What better way to make your F-Sport badges suddenly ooze credibility then a little German engineering from the company that supposedly builds the Ultimate Driving Machines.  Now Lexus can claim relability and sportyness!  PROFIT!

So when it comes right down to it, these companies were made for each other.  They complete each other.  This is a match made in heaven.  And for those who think this is BMW selling out?  Bitch please, BMW sold out decades ago.  Problem?