If we were playing alt-powertrain Bingo, a recent Mazda patent application filed in Japan would be one or two letters from victory. What's exciting about the patent, discovered by Japanese outlet T's Media via Motor Trend, is that while it makes a case for an internal combustion engine of any configuration, one of the drawings showing a rotary engine. The wild bit is that the whole powertrain comprises the ICE, a transaxle, two tiny in-wheel electric motors turning the front wheels, a third electric motor in the driveline, a capacitor, a lithium-ion battery, and three inverters. Motor Trend parsed the mechanics, and the way it reads, Doc Brown couldn't have done a better job.
The rotary engine at the front turns the rear wheels, but not directly. Instead of a flywheel on back of the engine, the drawing shows a 25-kW electric motor and an inverter, then a driveshaft running to the transaxle. Along the axis of the transmission tunnel in a normal car, between the inverter and the transaxle, lies a 3.5-kWh battery running at 48 volts. MT writes that the electric motor can add its output to the ICE output to drive the rear wheels, or the e-motor can turn the rear axle on its own.
During the hard times caused by the coronavirus pandemic, automakers are helping any way they can, big or small. Mazda is one of those offering support specifically for the nation's healthcare workers who are risking their own lives in order to save others. Mazda calls it the Essential Car Care Program (ECCP), and it offers free upkeep to any healthcare workers with a car, not just a Mazda.
Through the ECCP, Mazda is offering healthcare workers free oil changes and "enhanced cleaning services." The program begins April 16, 2020, and will run through select participating dealerships. To repeat, this is not only for people who drive Mazdas, it's for anybody working in healthcare. Mazda says it is "available for most makes and models from other manufacturers," excluding exotics, classic cars, off-road vehicles, and vehicles that take more than eight quarts of oil. The offer is available for service on one car per program period.
Mazda recently penned a paean to itself celebrating 100 years in business. This, naturally, meant the document also served as a love letter to the rotary engine, since, "The joy of driving, lightweight design and the rotary engine [are] three elements that define Mazda's DNA." One of those elements has been AWOL for eight years, since the end of RX-8 production. After years of rumor feverish enough to impress Slenderman, two years ago Mazda announced it was prepping a rotary range-extender engine for a model to debut in 2020. Here we are in the anticipated year, and we still don't know anything else about that vehicle — or perhaps we do.
When Mazda debuted the MX-30 battery-electric crossover in Tokyo last year, it bore an e-SkyActive powertrain with a 35.5-kWh battery sending current to an e-motor on the front axle producing 141 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. With a range of around 130 miles on the European cycle, even though the crossover was meant for markets like Europe and Japan, almost everyone chimed, "This would be perfect for that range-extender engine."
Mazda is turning 100 years old in 2020, and it's commemorating the occasion by releasing eight retro-inspired limited-edition models in its home country of Japan. Some of them might be available in the United States.
Cars weren't initially on the company's radar. It started life as a cork manufacturer named Toyo Kogyo, and it branched out into the transportation sector when it introduced a three-wheeled, motorcycle-based pickup called Mazda-Go in 1931. Its first car, the R360, was unveiled in 1960 as a two-door four-seater whose tiny dimensions fell in line with Japan's strict kei regulations. It's the model Mazda's celebratory cars are inspired by.
It's like the ultimate barn find, only swap out the relatively ideal dry confines of a barn for a watery grave. Adventures with Purpose, a YouTube channel devoted to the exploits of a group of divers in Oregon that specializes in pulling submerged cars from the water, recently found six vehicles in the Tualatin River, near Portland. The most notable finds? A 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1 fastback and a Mazda RX-7 sports car, plus a Chevrolet LUV pickup, which is not shown being pulled from the water.
As you might expect, neither are exactly in top condition, with the badly rusted Mustang basically disintegrating into scrap pieces as it's pulled onto a flatbed truck parked on a boat ramp. The RX-7, meanwhile, is caked with mud, its windshield and roof crumpled, but it's basically intact. A hat tip goes to CarBuzz for spotting the videos.
During last year's World Final of the FIA World Tour in Gran Turismo Sport in Monaco, Mazda announced it would become an official video game partner this year, the automaker's centenary. The Japanese automaker then teased a sketch of its RX-Vision GT3 Concept, a GT3-class racer based on RX-Vision Concept shown at 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, penned by global design boss Ikuo Maeda and headed for Gran Turismo Sport this year. Polyphony Digital has finished modeling the car and just debuted it on the game's official site. Now dubbed the Gr.3 Mazda RX-Vision GT3 Concept, the slinky crimson contender will soon become the second GT3-class Mazda in the game alongside the Atenza Gr.3. Polyphony says the race car will arrive on May 25 as part of an online update.
Usurprisingly, the final product is toned down from last year's teaser sketch, yet the teaser was so wild that the in-game version retains plenty of extravagance. Drivers can see over the hood now, but the front splitter is even more extreme, the nose more chiseled and angry, fenders and hood drawn with new lines and more character, and a front-exit exhaust pokes out of an aero duct behind the front wheel. Revised struts hold the giant rear wing aloft, and a less outlandish diffuser sheds its tall endplates but still makes a menacing sight from the back.
Mazda built generation after generation of the Familia, starting with the Giugiaro-styled machines of the 1960s. The first Familia that sold well in North America was called the GLC (for "Great Little Car"), and it began life as a rear-wheel-drive cousin to the RX-7 before the Familia went to a front-wheel-drive platform for the 1981 model year. The GLC name stuck around these parts through 1985 — and I've documented a few discarded examples of these now-rare machines during my junkyard travels — before getting the 323 name starting in the 1986 model year. It's no sweat to find 1990s 323s in junkyards, but I've been scouring the car graveyards of the land for the elusive early 323 and, finally, found this moss-encrusted '86 in a San Francisco Bay Area yard.
The 2020 Mazda CX-30 is pretty much a lifted Mazda3 hatchback. Same platform, awfully similar dimensions, and the interior's a spitting image (if not identical). Ditto cargo capacity. On paper, the two have virtually the same amount of space behind their raised back seats, with the CX-30 at 20.2 cubic-feet and the 3 with just a teensy less at 20.1.
Now, before I go any further, let's see how much that 20.1 cubic-feet relates to in the Mazda3. I wasn't yet doing this test format back then, hence the video.
The 2020 Mazda CX-30 has come out of the gate swinging on the safety front, earning the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick award in its first year on the market.
Mazda's new baby crossover earned a "Good" rating in all six of the Institute's crashworthiness categories (driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint) and its accident avoidance system was rated "Superior."
Is it a sporty crossover? Is it a tall hatchback? However you want to view it, the new 2020 Mazda CX-30 is a compelling new entry that delivers the sort of engaging driving experience and premium cabin environment you get in the company's 3 hatchback, but with the higher seating position of a crossover. Basically, if that Mazda3 had a child with the bigger CX-5, this is pretty much what you'd get, and we have to say it's a pretty good kid.
In terms of size, the CX-30 fits into a niche of in-betweener SUVs that slots between compact models like the CX-5 (plus the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, etc.) and sub-compact ones like the Mazda CX-3 (plus the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, etc.). If you don't have small children, and the car seats and strollers that come with them, it's a size that should make sense. The price is compelling too, especially when you consider the CX-30's high-end cabin and just how terrific it is to drive. With its tautly tuned chassis, communicative steering and sharp throttle response, the best words to describe it are "budget Porsche."