Automotive

2019 Mazda 6: Not your ordinary mid-size sedan

Fast, furious, and full of features

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Mazda’s premium sedan has received another refresh. The Japanese company further improves on the aesthetics inside and out, and aims to make the vehicle more a part of the driver in terms of performance and functionalities.

There are currently two variants of the Mazda 6 sedan available in the Philippines — a 2.2-liter diesel engine and a 2.5-liter petrol engine. What we have here is the former with its 2.2-liter SKYACTIVE-D configuration.

Inspired by a masterpiece

A new model means a new look. The Mazda 6 goes for a more aggressive presence and it’s conveyed well through its new front grille and headlamps. If it looks familiar, it might be the fact that it was inspired by Mazda’s Vision Coupe. It won the “Most Beautiful Concept Car of the Year” award last year so there’s no doubt the Mazda 6 is a looker.

With a commanding grille up front flanked by thin LED headlamps, the Mazda 6 channels the Vision Coupe

The front has that shark-nosed design which gives it an illusion of moving forward

The company knows how to play with lights through the accents on the exterior; look how the lines add shadows and detail to the overall appearance of the Mazda 6

The rear also saw a redesign with sleeker taillamps and a refreshed bumper

Rounding up the exterior are a batch of new 19-inch alloy wheels

Available color options are Jet Black, Machine Gray, Snowflake White Pearl, and Sonic Silver Metallic

Premium all around

One can easily see the company’s craftsmanship inside the vehicle. There are certain hints of class and detail everywhere you look. It was not only pleasing to the eyes, but it also felt premium — from the Nappa leather used in the seats to the suede running through its interior.

Buttons for audio and cruise control are comfortably placed on the leather-wrapped steering wheel

This touch of suede blended with Sen wood really adds a premium feel to the vehicle’s interior

Just below the dash are controls for its Dual-Zone Climate Control

The rear seats split in 60:40 fashion and passengers have access to two USB ports for charging

Popping the trunk reveals a large space for your baggage; simply fold the rear seats for more storage space and to fit longer items

Not only is the Mazda 6 a looker inside and out, but it’s also got creature comforts to make long rides more enjoyable. For starters, the two front seats are both ventilated while the driver’s seat has lumbar support. The interior is also equipped with a total of 11 Bose speakers for an immersive listening experience while Bluetooth connectivity comes standard.

These aren’t your ordinary front seats — they are ventilated just for your comfort

From controlling music to making calls, and even accessing its own navigation system, an 8-inch infotainment display is the main hub. It’s touch-enabled but only when the car is not moving.

In between the two front seats is this center control knob for navigation through the menu. The knob itself performs well and is very tactile. The system’s UI, however, is a different story.

It has Dynamic Stability Control, Lane Departure Warning, i-STOP that automatically turns off the engine when the car is idle, a 360-degree view camera, and proximity/parking sensors

A seven-inch TFT display shows important information while driving

But if you want to avoid taking your eyes off the road, a heads-up display (HUD) is projected right at the windshield

A quiet performer

As mentioned earlier, the two variants available locally come in either the SKYACTIVE-D or SKYACTIV-G for its petrol counterpart. For the specs buffs out there, our 2.2-liter diesel engine outputs 190PS of power and 450Nm of torque. Power is then mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Mazda says these numbers not only translate to more power but also results in a more fuel-efficient performance.

Being what it is, we were already expecting it to make the usual rumbling noise of a diesel engine as soon as we pushed the ignition button. To our surprise, while it has that whirring sound, it isn’t as loud as one would normally expect. The sound of the engine actually disappears when you’re outside and a few feet away from the vehicle.

It’s the same story when you’re inside the car and driving. Mazda dampened the interior so effectively that it almost sounds like you’re cruising on a gasoline vehicle.

In terms of power, the four-cylinder DOHC engine doesn’t easily tap out. It’s got a responsive jolt of power on tap and a medium to light handling so it feels agile while being in control whether you’re in the city or winding through the mountains.

With a starting price of PhP 1,930,000 for the 2.5L gasoline variant and PhP 2,250,000 for the diesel model, the 2019 Mazda 6 sedan comes with a sleek and aggressive stance, an interior wrapped in premium materials, features that make driving more enjoyable, and an engine that is subtle but packs a punch. It’s not your run-off-the-mill mid-size sedan in a way that it almost acts like a family SUV if not for its more compact body.

The new Mazda 6 would be a great everyday car with its efficient fuel consumption, and is also equipped enough to go for those long drives over the weekend with the gang.

Automotive

All-new Honda Fit debuts with hybrid variant, five trims

Different trims for different lifestyles

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The 46th Tokyo Motor Show is at full swing and one of the biggest names in car manufacturing has just unveiled its newest offering in the compact car segment. The all-new Honda Fit wants to cater to almost every lifestyle you may have — whether you want things simple or a bit flashy, rugged or elegant.

For the exterior’s design, the company gave importance to “emotional value” which is a new concept that they’re going for. Instead of going for design cues that are sleek and intimidating, Honda evidently took the more conservative route with softer curves and a generally mild-mannered expression.

Inside, the company boasts its “four dimensions of comfort” that should make everyday drives more enjoyable. From having a wide, comfortable view, body-stabilizing seats, smooth-running engine/motor, to a spacious interior, the all-new Fit should have you covered.

As mentioned previously, the company aims to cater to different lifestyles by offering its new compact car in five different trims or types:

BASIC

The basic type of the all-new Fit offers both high-quality design and comfort. This type will feature a simple and endearing appeal. It includes a front face with a gentle look and a seamless flowing exterior.

HOME

This type strives to realize a relaxing and carefully designed space using the sense of sight and touch. This is achieved through coordinating colors and materials, including natural-looking fabric seats made with high-quality materials, a genuine leather-wrapped steering wheel, and Prime Smooth soft padding.

NESS

This type features exciting color coordination and adopts water-repellent materials for the seat surfaces while soft padding has been installed on the instrument panel. It has a sporty and fashionable vibe which will enable customers to enjoy driving just like they enjoy fitness and sports.

CROSSTAR

This type features an exterior design developed exclusively for the CROSSTAR. It flaunts a set of 16-inch aluminum wheels that look good both in the city and outdoor environments.

As for the interior, water-repellent materials are also used for seat surfaces and soft padding on the instrument panel. This type projects a compact yet tough look.

LUXE

Striving to create a space where people can spend elegant and comfortable time in, the LUXE comes standard with genuine leather seats while pursuing excellence in visual and tactile quality. For the exterior, platinum-style chrome plating and 16-inch aluminum wheels were adopted to increase the high-quality feel.

In addition to those trims, the Fit will also be available in a two-motor hybrid system called e:HEV.

As far as features are concerned, we’re far from over. This new offering comes with Honda Sensing technology which is what we saw on the recently launched Honda Accord in the Philippines. It basically uses cameras and sensors to be able to avoid collisions.

Another thing is the Honda CONNECT. It actually makes its debut along with the new Fit and offers three services.

First, you can use it to access certain vehicle functions remotely, then it connects the vehicle to emergency support in case a traffic accident happens, and finally, its “rush over” service dispatches a security guard when the system detects an abnormal situation happening to the vehicle.

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Automotive

Teaching robots new tricks

Older replacement parts made available

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Technology has played a big role in automotive production. In the past, body panels were made by hand — by hammering sheet metal into a mold to get the desired shape. It required individual skills and craftsmanship to produce quality parts and took time to finish.

Today, these parts are all made by machines (or robots) in a process called die stamping which only takes seconds to finish. Thanks to them, car manufacturers can now produce quality products with minimal manpower.

This also allowed car brands to come out with new models with short intervals in between. And with every new update, these robots had to be reprogrammed and replaced — leaving old stamps decommissioned. The result? Owners of older car models are running out of replacement parts.

To address this, Nissan has come up with a process to program robots to create phased out parts. They call it dual-sided dieless forming.

The technique involves two robots working from opposite sides of a steel sheet with perfect synchronicity. Using diamond-coated tools to gradually shape the steel, this technique is cost-effective and can make a wide variety of replacement parts available for discontinued models. Previously, this was not possible due to high costs and limitations on equipment.

Dual-sided dieless forming had previously been considered too difficult to commercialize but thanks to Nissan’s Production Engineering Research and Development Center, the brand made three major breakthroughs.

  • The development of advanced programs capable of controlling both robots with a high degree of dimensional accuracy, enabling the formation of detailed convex and concave shapes.
  • The application of a mirrored diamond coating to tools, reducing friction while eliminating the need for lubrication. This has numerous benefits, including consistency of surface quality and low-cost, environmentally friendly operation.
  • The generation of optimized pathfinding logic for robots, drawing on the ample expertise and press-forming simulation techniques ordinarily used by Nissan’s production engineering teams. This enabled Nissan to achieve high quality results early in the development process.

Nissan plans to continue with this development and pursue mass production.

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Automotive

2019 Suzuki Jimny: A little monster on steroids

We took it to where it truly shines

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What is cute and adorable but also fierce and beastly when set loose? No, the answer is not a rabid puppy — it’s the all-new 2019 Suzuki Jimny.

When we talk about extreme off-roading, normally we would think of big, bulky, expensive SUVs with massive tires, monstrous lift kits, and a gas-guzzling engine. No one will think of a small, Japanese kei car to be a good off-roader, but that’s where most are wrong.

The 2019 Suzuki Jimny is probably one of the most anticipated 4x4s this year and is one capable off-roader in the market today. We were given the chance to bring the 2019 Jimny All Grip Pro to our favorite off-road testing grounds at Jungle Base in Tanay, Rizal — a renowned playground in the off-road community.

Let’s begin with the looks. The styling will not fit everybody’s taste. There is not much to look at with the exterior since it’s basically a box on wheels. Though it stays true to its styling heritage and looks more like a modern second-gen Suzuki Samurai.

Personally, though, I like it. It’s simple, rugged, and I actually find it kind of cute. Being the way it is, there is so much potential to personalize it to your preference and needs and it excites me to see differently customized Jimnys on the road. It’s a blank canvas waiting to be modified.

The interior is also pretty basic and really has no luxury features but we can easily overlook that since this small SUV is not built for luxury; it’s built to be tough. Mounted on the center is a very decent infotainment system. It spans nine inches across but it does not support Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

Other features include Cruise Control, Hill Descent Control with Hill Hold, Traction Control, and Power Windows. You have loads of headroom, decent legroom for the front but a bit cramped at the back. Seats are also fairly comfortable.

On a personal note, I really liked how the B-pillar is placed behind the driver giving you an unobstructed panoramic view of the side of the car — advantageous for offroading.

Driving the Jimny on paved roads felt bouncy and jiggly, while cornering had to be done carefully. Body roll is an issue and being a narrow and tall car, you kind of feel like you could roll when taking on tight corners with speed. It also struggles to gain speed even with a new and more powerful engine. This means you sometimes need to catch the right timing when overtaking.

No one will be buying the Jimny for racing, anyway, as speed is not its best asset. This car truly shines when the pavement ends.

Once we got to the dirt road, we were amazed by how smooth it suddenly felt. Driving at around 40kph on soft gravel felt like driving on butter. It was unbelievably quiet and smooth, gliding through the trail and absorbing the bumps.

Switching to 4-Low when the trail got tougher impressed us even more. The little Jimny tackled large rocks, ditches, and mud effortlessly. Thanks to its trailing arm coil spring suspensions up front and at the rear, as well as its improved approach and departure angles, articulation was beyond impressive.

On paper alone, it even has a better approach, departure, and break-over angles than a stock Jeep Wrangler and I honestly did not expect that much wheel travel.

Its new 1.5-liter K15B DOHC VVT engine produces only 101 horsepower and 130nm of torque which may seem small. Although you have to remember this car weighs only a little over a thousand kilos giving it a better power-to-weight ratio than most SUVs out there.

Even on engine idle speeds, this little monster on steroids crawls without even having to step on the throttle. It has solid axles both front and rear but it lacks any type of locking differentials. However, the vehicle will sense when a wheel is losing traction and will automatically apply the brakes to distribute power to other wheels. It’s not as good as differential locks but it will still get you going.

Its rigid ladder frame can handle any twists and uneven terrain without having to worry. Water wading is a downside, however. Being very light, the Jimny can easily be swept away in strong currents when river-crossing and is highly discouraged. Rollover angle is also very limited since it’s tall and narrow, but not to worry as you get a digital clinometer display to make sure you don’t exceed the limits.

An important note to remember is that the Jimny has quite a small tank. When over landing, make sure you bring enough extra fuel for the trip the back. Consumption on average is 12-15 kilometers per liter and around nine kilometers per liter when offroading.

Priced at PhP 1,095,000 pesos for the GLX All Grip model, the Suzuki Jimny is probably the most affordable off-road SUV that is truly capable. Now that I’ve driven and tested it, I want one for myself more than ever. It’s extremely fun, tough, efficient and I highly recommend it.

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