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The all-new 2016 Mazda2 debuts in Montreal


Mazda made a splash at this year's Montreal auto show with the unveiling of the all-new 2016 Mazda2. The setting was at the 2015 Montreal International Auto Show, the perfect venue to debut a small subcompact, where small cars are the popular choice.

The Mazda2 is in its second-generation in North America and joins the rest of the newly-designed Mazda vehicles that include the Mazda3, Mazda6 and Mazda CX-5. All of these vehicles utilize the full suite of SKYACTIV Technology, along with a KODO design that evokes a feeling of motion.

Under the hood, the Mazda2 has been fitted with the direct-injected SKYACTIV-G 1.5-litre engine, but exact horsepower and torque specifications were not provided and expected to be released in the coming months. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

According to Mazda, a resurgence in subcompact cars led to the decision to re-make the Mazda2 into a vehicle that could be functional, fuel-efficient, nicely-styled and affordable.

“With the Mazda2, our aim was to overturn conventional thinking that a car's value is proportionate to its size,” said David Klan, Senior Director – Sales, Marketing, and Regional Operations at Mazda Canada.

The Mazda2 takes on a new front fascia with a modernly-styled and refined grille that features four-lamp LED headlights. It's also slightly taller and longer from the outgoing model. Inside, you will find a no-fuss open-concept with less buttons and gadgets to play with. It receives the same LCD screen on the dash, identical to the Mazda3.

The Mazda2 is expected to have better handling and a quicker steering gear ratio for an all-around fun driving experience. The SKYACTIV treatment coupled with the KODO design is what Mazda hopes to use to draw the attention of a wider range of customers. 

The Mazda2 is expected to go on sale in the late summer and pricing should be revealed soon with not much changing in that department.

BMW shows off its refreshed range of 6-Series vehicles

 BMW faces constant challenges from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Cadillac and took no chances by refreshing its entire 6-Series lineup at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The BMW 6-Series showcases two variants – the 640i and the 650i that consist of a coupe, convertible and Gran Coupe sedan, which all received exterior and interior enhancements. New additions throughout the range of vehicles include a change to the typical kidney front grille, standard new LED headlights, and revised rear and front bumpers.

Inside, you will find an enhanced head-up display that is more intuitive. The all-around luxury feel has been refined with higher quality materials used including a two-toned leather seat option available.

Under the hood, the 640i's are all powered by a twin-turbo inline-six that generates 315 horses and 330 lb.-ft. of torque that's mated to an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. Jumping up to the 650i – they receive the twin-turbo V8 that tops out at 445 hp and 480 lb.-ft. of torque.

All of the 6-Series vehicles have improved fuel economy and can be driven in Eco Pro mode with start/stop technology for greater efficiency.

Hyundai launches Santa Cruz pickup truck in Detroit

Hyundai tried something unique at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit – a crossover with a pickup truck bed. We aren't sure if that's desired, but according to Hyundai it is, and they've turned their five-passenger Santa Cruz crossover into one.

At this point, it's just a concept from Hyundai, but what the South Korean-brand is showing is a desire to get into the pickup truck world. It's a segment that Hyundai is calling “Millennial Urban Adventurers.” Sure, this could exist with a need for a large area to store sports equipment or camping gear, but this segment can't be that big to have enough people running to get this Santa Cruz? 

The Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck concept is powered by a 2.0-litre turbodiesel that produces 190 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. It will have Hyundai's all-wheel drive system and according to Hyundai executives, it can achieve an impressive combined fuel economy rating of 7.8L/100 km.

The exterior has some nice touches including LED fog lamps, honeycomb headlamp projectors, Brembo brake calipers, an expandable bed, and tie-down cleats on the wheel arches, roof and bed.

“This new crossover allows them all the expandable utility they need throughout their active week without the typical compromises they have come to expect from the industry’s current product offerings,” said Mark Dipko, Director of Corporate Planning at Hyundai Motor America.

It won't be your typical truck and therefore, not suited for your typical tuck buyer. If ever produced, Hyundai would expect a large chunk of its sales coming from a crossover or a sedan buyer looking for that extra cargo and versatility in their life.

Ford shows off long-awaited all-new GT


The Ford GT supercar has long-been a car lover's dream. None have been produced since it was first made back in 2005-06, so the value of those have rose and become scarce. But Ford is changing all that with the reveal of the second-generation GT at the North American Auto Show in Detroit.

Consumers won't be assisted in the price department, but they will be drooling as the brand-new supercar produces more than 600 horsepower. It's all powered up by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 that's mid-mounted and mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

It's all part of Ford's push for a new performance division that will have 12 new vehicles in its clique by 2020 including this new GT, the Focus RS, F-150 Raptor and Shelby Mustang GT350 and GT350R.

The Ford GT will be headed into production in 2016 that coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Ford GT40 race cars triumph at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, when they finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

The GT will possess the most powerful EcoBoost engine to date and Ford noted that it will be the showpiece for many future technologies including performance, aerodynamics, and lightweight carbon fibre construction.

"It's a showcase for all our latest technology, including EcoBoost performance and aerodynamics," Mark Fields, Ford CEO and President. "We've been working on it for a little over a year."

The combination of carbon fibre and aluminum is critical for the GT's elevated performance, handling and fuel efficiency. It's expected to have one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any sports car.


Toyota Tacoma revealed ahead of Detroit

For the past few months, trucks have dominated the conversation ahead of this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Toyota is hoping to make a big splash with showing off the 2016 Toyota Tacoma, its mid-size pickup truck that will receive its first major redesign in more than a decade.

Toyota is not giving away any new specifications at all, so it looks like we will have to wait until press day to find out more on the new Tacoma. However, what it has done is provide a frontal shot of what it will look like. It's a nice tease, and at least it's better than looking at a picture of a headlight.

The 2016 Tacoma looks straight-forward and clean with not much fuss or change to its body structure. The front fascia has been bulked up and looks tough and aggressive as a truck should. The grille stands out the most as it's more bulky with a trapezoidal shape. The front bumper also receives some bulk with more sheetmetal bulging out and linking horizontally to its fog lights. In the rear, there's a new tailgate with Tacoma badging and new taillights.

Inside, is where we expect equal to more change in the Tacoma, but that is not something that Tacoma is willing to reveal ahead of the auto show.

The mid-size pickup market has boomed with new redesigns ever since General Motors made waves last year with the new GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado. This Tacoma pictured is a V6, but we don't know what type or whether there will be a four-cylinder offered.

Toyota will reveal its 2016 Tacoma on January 12th at 12:50 and we will provide the added information for you.

Scion to introduce all-new iM in New York

Scion will introduce the all-new Scion iM in April at the New York International Auto Show. The iM is the official name for the production version of the iM Concept car shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

The new iM represents one of the two new models that Scion will bring to market in the next three years aimed at independently minded drivers. The vehicles will bring exciting options for Scion’s youthful customers looking for vehicles to support both adventure and sensibility.

Beyond the name, drivers can expect the production iM to carry forward some of the sporty looks and versatility displayed in the concept version. More details on both the production iM and sedan will be available in coming months.

Infiniti Q60 concept looks to be produced shortly; debut to be in Detroit

One week ahead of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Infiniti has released a few images of its new Q60 concept.

What makes the Q60 concept different from the many others we've seen, is the fact that it looks like its very close to a production model. The frame and coupe silhouette resembles the styling of the Q80 Inspiration, which was revealed at last year's show. Highlights of the Q60 concept are large vertical front fender vents, slickly thin taillights and equally vertical funky exhaust pipes.

"The sweeping lines of the Q80 Inspiration gave the Q60 Concept its coupe silhouette and looks while the Formula One-inspired touches from the Q50 Eau Rouge endowed the coupe with its sports personality," said Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti Executive Design Director.

The Q60 is not new to the Infiniti brand, as it is currently the coupe version of the Q50. It just has not had any change since it was re-badged from being a G37 coupe. Furthermore, a convertible option is expected to be in the cards and hopefully we will hear more about this in Detroit.

Inside, the Q60 concept should have a small back row and take on many of the luxurious features and aids found in the Q50. The main differences are currently a sports-tuned steering wheel and carbon fibre trim around the dash.

We expect the Q60 to go on sale in 2016, but stay tuned for confirmation on January 13 at 8:05am during Infiniti's press conference.

A track-ready F-brand model to be shown by Lexus

Lexus announced it will be adding a second vehicle to its growing stable of F brand high performance models. Earlier this year, the luxury manufacturer launched the RC F, a V8 powered performance coupe. The newest Lexus F brand vehicle will make its global premiere at the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) on Jan. 13. The vehicle will be revealed at a press conference in the Lexus display space at Cobo Center on Tuesday, Jan. 13 at 8:40 a.m. EST.

Next-gen Sync and new global Focus RS arriving shortly

DEARBORN, MI - Innovation, mobility and connectivity were words used several times during Ford's annual executive briefing. The 'Blue Oval' has always been an automotive leader when it comes to looking into the future to better its overall product and the customer experience.

To many, those are just words. But in this case, Ford has been pushing the envelope with 3,000 new employees mostly in the technological arena. This has helped in releasing the brand-new next-generation Sync 3. But before you get all excited, it's not out yet and we were told that it will be coming at some point in 2015.

You wouldn't think it, but Ford's Sync has been around before the first Apple iPhone was introduced. As a historical leader and pioneer, it meant a lot to Ford to create a leading system that's more intuitive, easier and faster to use, and sleek.

After the testing the new system, I think Ford has accomplished that goal. The Microsoft Auto platform is gone, replaced by a QNX operating system. A difficult decision as the old models with previous Sync-versions cannot be updated, but after you test out the new system, you can see why Ford made the move.

Sync 3 has the look and feel of a smartphone with swipe and pinch motions. Furthermore, it operates with simpler menus, quick one-line address inputs, as well as predictive text. It even has a built-in Wi-Fi receiver that can access the Wi-Fi from your surrounding area to perform updates and app uploads.

As I scrolled through and tested the system, each input was super fast without lag. It's the combination of quick-actions without complication or distraction that makes it a top-of-the-line unit. And you also won't see the name “My Ford Touch” associated with it either, as Ford turns to one global name that syncs (no pun intended) with its “One Ford” strategy.

Outside of new innovative technology, there was still more buzz around Ford.

“2015 has the potential to be a breakthrough year for us,” proclaimed Mark Fields, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ford Motor Company.

Ford are expected to make 16 global launches in the new year with a focus on SUVs and compact cars that includes the all-new Focus. But there was another type of Focus that had the media's attention and that was the news of the Focus RS being made available globally at some point in 2015. 

The Focus RS hatch will be one of 12 new performance vehicles introduced by 2020, all part of a new “Ford Performance” umbrella that merges Ford racing and its performance line-up throughout in order to further production and information, as well as quick distribution. The Ford Performance team will focus their attention solely on performance vehicles such as the new Focus RS, Fiesta ST, Focus ST, Shelby GT350 Mustang, and F-150 Raptor, to name a few.

“Ford remains committed to innovation through performance,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president.

This is big news for performance-minded compact lovers, as the last RS was introduced in 2009 with a heritage that dates back to 1968. It will slot itself above the ST and most likely use one of Ford's EcoBoost engines. I would expect an output of over 300 hp, considering the ST currently runs off of a turbocharged 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that produces 252 hp and 270 lb.-ft. of torque.
It was a big day for Ford, and one that gets them closer to a complete “One Ford” plan. The new Sync 3 system will be a welcome addition for many who disliked the outgoing model. And for the Focus RS – it's a great start of hopefully more to come from the performance side of things at Ford.

All-new Toyota Tacoma to appear in Detroit

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) always seems to be the place where everyone wants to show off its latest trucks. Last year, it was General Motors that revealed the GMC Canyon, their midsize pickup that they hoped would rejuvenate sales in that market along with its sister the Chevrolet Colorado.

This year, it's Toyota's turn to debut the segment leading all-new Toyota Tacoma that will be going into its third-generation. The Tacoma is in need of a change with its last update coming back in 2012. No specific announcements have been made about its engine or body structure, but you could be sure there will be some changes with the focus on better fuel economy.

Now with competition from General Motors, Toyota feels it has to better its offerings and take control over the segment that also includes the Nissan Frontier and Honda Ridgeline. Mid-size pickups aren't the most popular choice amongst truck owners, but it's a segment that has recently seen some growth – and hence the reason for this Tacoma announcement.

"It's a market we've had almost to ourselves in the last couple of years," Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president said. "We've been there a long time and have been the dominant player. We have a very satisfied owner group."
The all-new Toyota Tacoma will hit the NAIAS stage on January 12th during the press conference schedule.


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