Redesigned 2016 Mazda CX-9 Priced from $32,420

2016 Mazda CX-9

Mazda has released pricing for its all-new 2016 CX-9, and the brand’s flagship three-row crossover SUV is going to set buyers back a bit more than the outgoing version. The starting price is $32,420 and ranges up to $44,915 for the new top-spec Signature version.

The base model of the seven-seater, Mazda’s biggest offering, is once again named Sport, and the $32,420 figure represents an increase of $1555 over the 2015 model. The new version does add LED headlights and taillights, a standard backup camera, and a larger, 7.0-inch touchscreen. The Sport offers an optional Sport Package (making it a Sport Sport?), which brings a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, and heated mirrors for $950. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is an $1800 option.

Next up the ladder, for $36,870, the Touring comes with leather, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, dual power front seats, a power liftgate, passive keyless entry, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and an auto-dimming inside mirror. The Touring can be further fancied up with the Premium Package ($1745), which includes navigation, a sunroof, Mazda’s Automatic Smart City Braking Support, a 12-speaker Bose audio system with XM satellite radio, rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, rear door sunshades, and LED fog lights.

2016 Mazda CX-9

For $41,070, the Grand Touring’s additions include 20-inch wheels (instead of 18s), adaptive front lighting, a head-up display, automatic high-beams, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control with automatic emergency braking assist, memory for the power driver’s seat, roof rails, and aluminum interior trim.

At the top of the lineup stands the new Signature trim level, which unlike lesser models comes standard with all-wheel drive. At $44,915, it also includes auburn-brown Nappa leather, rosewood trim, and LED accent lighting for the shifter and the front grille.





All 2016 CX-9 models share the same 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which makes 227 horsepower (on regular gas) or 250 (on premium) along with 310 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic, the turbo four nets the CX-9 EPA fuel-economy ratings of 22 mpg city and 28 highway (with front-wheel drive) or 21/27 mpg with all-wheel drive, which puts it atop the class—excluding hybrids. The CX-9 rolls into showrooms later this spring.

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Redesigned 2016 Mazda CX-9 Priced from $32,420

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New Genesis Concept Set to Preview 3-Series-Fighting Sports Sedan

Genesis new york concept preview

Hyundai’s new Genesis brand is wasting no time expanding its lineup of luxury sedans. After the flagship G90 debuted earlier this year and the mid-size Hyundai Genesis was rebadged the G80, Genesis will now show a concept car at the New York auto show previewing its BMW 3-series-fighting sports sedan, most likely to be called the G70.

The creatively named “New York concept” is said to show what this new model, billed as a true “sports sedan,” might look like. Genesis uses plenty of buzzwords like “athletic elegance” and “expressive volumes,” but we’re more excited by the prospect of sporty driving dynamics. Like each of the six Genesis models slated to arrive by 2020, the G70 will use a rear-wheel-drive platform not shared with Hyundai, lending some credence to its bid to challenge the Germans.

It certainly won’t be an easy fight against cars like the BMW 3-series, Audi A4, and Mercedes-Benz C-class, not to mention newer challengers like the Lexus IS and Cadillac ATS. But the director of Hyundai’s new “N” performance division, Albert Biermann, previously told us that the G70 will be “a whole new animal” compared to brands’ larger, more luxurious sedans. He even suggested that an N-tuned version of the G70 could arrive to go up against the BMW M3, possibly with a high-output version of the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 offered in the G90.





Clearly, Genesis has big ambitions for the G70. Keep an eye out next week to see what this potentially exciting new sports sedan will look like.

2016 New York Auto Show Full Coverage

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Reality 86’d: Scion FR-S Transitioning Into a Toyota for 2017

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Scion, Living On: Scion iM, iA To Be Renamed Toyota Corolla iM, Yaris iA

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Dream Weavers: How Acura Assembles Its New NSX Supercar

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Dream Weavers: How Acura Assembles Its New NSX Supercar

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-Surrounded by farm fields, 108 Honda folks are building supercars in rural Ohio; the glass doors exiting the Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) lobby located near Pottersburg, Ohio, are etched with one huge but inscrutable Japanese Kanji character. At the bottom, the word “dream” decodes that message for those fortunate enough to pass through this portal to the plant floor.

“Dream” says it all. That word is stitched throughout Honda’s and Acura’s history because it concisely defines founder Soichiro Honda’s spirit, successfully passed down to the Buckeye team building new Acura NSXs.

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Honda became the world’s largest motorcycle brand in 1959, only a decade after introducing the Dream D-type, the first product designed entirely in-house. What better time to borrow $1 million from Japan’s Ministry of Finance to set up shop in the land of the free? Against the wishes of another Japanese ministry—that of International Trade and Industry—Honda progressed from two to four wheels in 1963. Continuing its global migration, Honda built a factory in Ohio to manufacture CR250R Elsinore dirt bikes in 1979.

Shortly after the first motorcycle powered off the U.S. assembly line, a fax to headquarters in Japan urged, “Proceed with auto production.” Accord manufacturing commenced in 1982, years before other Japanese brands began building complete vehicles here. Forging ahead of the curve, Honda launched the first Japanese luxury brand in 1986 with Acura Integras and Legends. Five years later, Acura shot a missile across Ferrari’s bow by introducing the NSX, Japan’s first supercar.

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Mr. Honda celebrated the NSX’s 1989 introduction but died in 1991, well before this dream car left production in 2005. Copious tears shed for the loss of these two icons ensured that the NSX eventually would return. While Ferrari and other supercar makers remain in Acura’s gunsight, the new NSX’s PMC is near a town with a ZIP code but not so much as a post office.

PMC chief engineer Clement D’Souza beams with pride explaining his team consists of 108 dedicated associates, most of whom have worked at least 20 years for Honda. On this shop floor there are no ties or blue jeans; the standard apparel is instead white trousers and a white shirt labeled with each associate’s first name and the Honda logo. Eight team members assemble NSX engines at Honda’s Anna, Ohio, plant 40 miles to the west.

The Anna engine plant is Honda’s largest with more than a million engines per year built by 2800 workers. Three rooms are dedicated to assembling and testing the NSX’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6. Proving that this powerhouse is steeped in racing technology, the block, heads, and bottom cover are cast by Grainger & Worrall and machined by Cosworth, two premier British motorsports firms.

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One associate spends nearly six hours assembling each engine. Honda engineers invented a special measuring gauge to select valvetrain shims with utmost precision. Every fastener is hand-started, and the final torque applied by a power tool is automatically displayed on a screen and recorded in a data bank.

After assembly is complete and the joint sealant has cured for three hours, each engine is passed to another associate for break-in on a dynamometer. While peak torque isn’t measured, this process revs the engine to 4000 rpm with varying loads for an hour or so to spare the owner the break-in task. This ensures that a brand-new NSX can be driven straight to the track without fear of engine damage.

One slight logistics complication is attributable to the NSX’s dry-sump lubrication system. Oil used during dynamometer testing is drained into a sealed container for reuse. After the engine is removed from the dyno and its permanent lubricant reservoir is installed, that same oil is poured back in, before the finished V-6 is shipped to the PMC.

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Crankshaft balancing also happens after the dyno test, once the electric motor’s rotor and dual-mass flywheel have been installed. Nine holes drilled and tapped into the viscous damper are used to add a precise amount of balance weight. At the flywheel end of the crank, bolts available in three different weights further fine-tune balance.

Honda spent a total of $70 million over four years refurbishing a 30-year-old warehouse and installing tools to create the PMC. That investment covers both the 200,000-square-foot manufacturing plant and an adjoining 115,000-square-foot building used to store finished cars.

The pristine white walls and speckled flooring tell you this is not your typical car-manufacturing plant. The air conditioning, brilliant lighting, glass interior walls, and operating-room cleanliness make this an ideal place to build high-end automobiles.

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The spaceframe manufacturing area takes up roughly 25 percent of PMC’s floor space. After aluminum castings, extrusions, and stamped panels are loaded by hand into rotisserie fixtures, eight robotic tools apply 860 MIG (metal inert gas) and spot welds. Each fixture is programmed to rotate up to 360 degrees on cue for welding-arm access to all sides of the joint.

Six of the spaceframe castings are hollow, thin-wall components made using a special ablation process. Carefully timed blasts of water flush away some of the core sand to rapidly quench the molten aluminum, thereby optimizing the casting’s microstructure and mechanical properties.

To minimize the width of the NSX’s A-pillars, Honda selected ultra-high-strength steel for the rails that sweep from the base of the windshield over the side glass to the NSX’s B-pillars and also for the windshield header. Bolts and adhesives are used to join these parts to the otherwise aluminum spaceframe.

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Robotic tooling also creates the rolled hem flanges that join inner and outer hood, door, and hatch panels, all of which are aluminum. The NSX’s front and rear fenders are molded SMC (sheet molding compound) plastic. The standard roof is aluminum while a carbon-fiber panel is available for an extra $6000.

The spaceframe and body panels are completed in about 10 hours. After allowing time for the adhesives to cure, these components advance to the paint shop, which takes up 30 percent of PMC’s floor space. In lieu of the tugs used to move bulky subassemblies in most car plants, human-powered carts are used to transfer NSX parts. Some spaceframes visit the quality-confirmation center where measurement tools accurate to 0.002-inch check for conformity to design specifications.

To prep for painting, metal parts pass through 10 dip-tank stations to clean and rinse all surfaces before an electro-deposition coating is applied. The final stop is a 50-minute bake at 340 degrees Fahrenheit to cure this corrosion-resistant coating.

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Most of the exterior panel finish is applied robotically with electrostatic bells (cups spun at high speed to atomize the paint) in the interests of quality and consistency. The exception is the use of hand-spray guns for the molded-plastic honeycomb grilles adorning the front and the rear of the NSX. PMC experts contend that a human touch is necessary to guarantee an even piano-black coating to every nook and cranny. Eleven coats of primer and paint are used for the main panels. Including cure time, the painting process lasts two days. D’Souza calls starting production while developing eight exterior color choices a huge challenge for a low-volume manufacturer.

Final assembly consumes another 30 percent of PMC’s floor space. Associates install about 100 parts during a 62-minute stop at each of the 22 stations. (Contrast that with roughly one minute per station at Honda’s high-volume assembly plants.) At any given time, there are 14 cars in process, so the full final-assembly trip takes approximately that many hours.

Urethane adhesives, along with a few fasteners, hold the glass and body panels in place. All screws are started by hand then tightened with special synchronized-transducer wrenches that provide audible and visual feedback to the assemblers, as well as a record of the torque applied. The engine and transaxle assembly are carefully lifted into the spaceframe at one of the early stations. Exterior panels are attached last—after chassis parts, interior trim, controls, and seats have been installed—to minimize the chance of damage to the finish.

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Wheels and headlamps are aligned in the PMC’s vehicle-quality area. Honda applied for a dozen patents to cover some of the special tools used here. For example, mirrors used for wheel alignment attach to the center instead of the periphery of each wheel to avoid rim scratches and to ensure precision. A bucket seat rolls on rails beneath the car during alignment to comfortably support the associate responsible for adjusting the steering and suspension links. To provide a clear spectator view through the windows surrounding the intensely lit final-inspection area, some of the light fixtures can be lifted up and out of the way by a system of cables and linkages. A four-post shaker checks for loose components and suspension rattles. There’s a four-wheel chassis dynamometer to run the powertrain and the brakes through stress tests.

Start to finish, the total manufacturing process lasts 10 to 12 days. Working four 10-hour days per week, the PMC team is capable of building approximately 2000 NSXs per year. An estimated 800 cars are planned for U.S. customers during the first year of production commencing May 1. What’s undetermined is how many more will be needed for the 60 foreign countries also served by this plant.

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About 18,700 original NSXs were produced during its 1991–2005 model-year run, half of which were sold in the United States. Considering the annual average, Acura will have its work cut out selling its new $168,400 (base price) supercar. Eventually offering a targa-roof edition could expand the take rate. In addition, we’d love to see a $100,000 NSX with a clutch pedal but no electric-propulsion components. (For more on the NSX’s powertrain, head here and here.)





The true believers are positive that the new NSX will be successful. When they squint their eyes just right on the way through the glass entry doors, they may see three supplementary letters next to the word “Dream”: B-I-G.
Acura-NSX-factory-tour-REEL

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Scion, Living On: Scion iM, iA To Be Renamed Toyota Corolla iM, Yaris iA

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The reports of Scion’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Although the nameplate is going away for good, three of the brand’s four cars (all but the tC coupe) are sticking around and being folded into the Toyota lineup for the 2017 model year. To better explain the shift to buyers of the Scion iM and iA, Toyota will leverage its well-known existing model names to create the Toyota Corolla iM hatchback and the Toyota Yaris iA sedan.

This makes particular sense to us in the case of the iM, which is already a Toyota Corolla hatchback under the skin. The iA’s name change is a bit more complicated, as this Mazda 2–based subcompact shares nothing with Toyota’s own Yaris small hatch. But still, the Yaris iA sedan will occupy the same size class as the Yaris, which is available in two-door and four-door hatchback forms.

2016 Scion iM

Other than the new badges, the 2017 Corolla iM and Yaris iA will be identical to the Scion version of themselves. The Corolla iM comes standard with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder mated to either a six-speed manual or a CVT automatic, while the Yaris iA is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder paired with a six-speed manual or an optional six-speed automatic.





The Scion FR-S sports car is also switching over and will be called the Toyota 86. Click here to read more about that model, which also gets a few tweaks to go along with its move to the Toyota side.

2016 Scion iA

2016 New York Auto Show Full Coverage

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Reality 86’d: Scion FR-S Transitioning Into a Toyota for 2017

MY17_Toyota_86_1With little else left to do but to clean the carpets and lock the doors, the fading Scion division has begun the process of preparing its products to play for team Toyota. While several models will make the move to Toyota showrooms, it’s the well-being of the FR-S sports car that most concerns us. To aid the transition, it appears Toyota is giving the FR-S some well-deserved upgrades and, despite official reports to the contrary, a change of name.

When the 2017 version debuts next week at the 2016 New York auto show, it will do so wearing “86” badging, leaving its FR-S name behind with the rest of the Scion-branded detritus. While it may not be the European-spec GT86 moniker that many enthusiasts had hoped for from the start, it at least shares the “86” tag with the car as sold in Asia, South Africa, South America, and Australia.MY17_Toyota_86_2

Take notice, dilettantes, because the upgrades in the engine compartment apply only to cars equipped with the manual transmission. Horsepower and torque are both up by five, the 2.0-liter flat-four now producing 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque. Mild improvements to be sure, but a new, as-yet-unspecified revised gearing comes onboard to make the most of it. No word on when or if the automatic car will get a power bump or revised ratios of its own, so you best start exercising your left leg right now. All 86s get new damper tuning and spring rates that are said to enhance control and agility. (Toyota hasn’t mentioned if its Subaru BRZ twin will be getting similar upgrades.)

Visually, the 86 marks the new beginning with a larger front air intake, reconfigured LED headlamps and turn signals, and a restyled bumper. The rear gets a revised bumper and LED taillamps. New “twisted spoke” aluminum wheels fill the wheel wells, and “86” logos appear on the fenders and even inside the headlamps.

Inside, a new “Grandlux” material appears on the instrument-panel surround and door trim, while another, unspecified, new material is used for the seating surfaces. The new steering wheel features integrated audio controls and, of course, an 86 logo on the center hub.





Toyota is so jacked about the 86 joining the team that it’s sending it out on the road with racers Ken Gushi and Ryan Tuerck, who will join series champion Frederic Aasbo in defending its title in the Formula Drift Manufacturers Championship. Whether these factors, including the name change and new venue of commerce, will translate into improved sales when the 2017 Toyota 86 hits showrooms in the fall of 2016 remains to be seen. We’re just glad the car is sticking around.

2017-Toyota-86-REEL

2016 New York Auto Show Full Coverage

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2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43: AMG Comes to the GLC

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-Car-based crossover SUVs are on an unstoppable roll, and carmakers are launching one after another. With crossovers fast replacing passenger cars on buyers’ shopping lists, sport utilities are also increasingly receiving ministrations from automaker’s performance arms. With the new Mercedes-AMG GLC43, for example, Daimler is following the lead of Audi with its SQ5 and BMW with its recently launched X4 M40i. READ MORE ››

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