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Mazda2: light and "speedy".

Mazda engineers took their weight savings goal on the new Mazda2 very seriously, lowering the weight of the new car by 220 lb. when compared to its 2,300-lb. Ford Fiesta-based predecessor. (In an ironic twist the Mazda2 will replace the Fiesta at a later date.) To retain rigidity, the hatch lower lip has been raised and its width reduced. Weight savings included replacing the heavier flip-and-fold rear seat of the previous model with a simple fold-forward design. Elsewhere, Mazda engineers:


* Used high and ultra-high-strength steels in body and joint reinforcements

* Shortened the trailing arms of the rear suspension

* Went from closed- to open-channel lower control arms in the front suspension

* Made the hood striker smaller

* Reduced the gauge of the hood hinges

* Moved the fresh-air inlet to the top of the radiator shroud, eliminating a resonator and baffle

* Shortened the wiring harness

* Changed to neodymium door speakers with a one-piece plastic molding.

Mazda says 60% of the weight savings came from engineering solutions like the lighter, stiffer bodyshell, 20% came from feature adjustments (comparably equipped cars will be closer to 130-lb lighter than their predecessors), and the final 20% resulted from making the vehicle physically smaller. The car is 15-mm wider, 45-mm shorter, and 65-mm lower than its boxy predecessor. Europeans will get to choose from a pair of 1.3-liter gasoline engines with 74 or 85 hp, a 102-hp 1.5-liter, or a 1.4-liter diesel. One of the 1.3-liter engines is a naturally aspirated Miller cycle engine that is combined with a CVT transmission. Developed from the current MZR 1.3-liter engine, the Miller cycle motor delays the closing of the intake valves to reduce pumping losses and improves thermal efficiency by utilizing a higher expansion ratio. Fuel economy rises by a claimed 20% to nearly 54 mpg combined. There's no official word whether Mazda will bring the car to the U.S. to compete against the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris, but Ford is known to be eyeing a version of the car for sale through its domestic dealer network. If approved, that car will slot beneath the Focus in Ford's U.S. lineup.--CAS
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Title Annotation:NOTABLE
Author:Sawyer, Christopher A.
Publication:Automotive Design & Production
Date:Sep 1, 2007
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