Weekend Roundup: 2014 Mazda 6, New 54.5 MPG Standard, Porsche Launches Carrera 4 and 4 S

Been away from your computer this week and missed all the automotive news? We’ve gathered a few of the top stories of the past week for your convenience.

First Look: 2014 Mazda6

Mazda chose the Moscow Motor Show to introduce the 2014 6 sedan, and while the car shown there was a Russian-spec model, it is almost identical to the Mazda 6 that will go on sale in America later this year. The new 6 has a striking design inspired by Mazda’s Takeri concept car, with the company’s new “kodo” design language guiding its angled headlights, semi-circle front grille, flared fenders, and dramatic character line. The 2014 Mazda 6 was designed from the ground-up with Mazda’s new SkyActiv technology, so it’s a claimed 300 pounds lighter than the old car. A 2.0-liter inline-four engine is rated for 148 hp and up to 40 mpg in the Russian model, while the upgrade 2.5-liter inline-four offers 189 hp and approximately 37 mpg. Look for more details on the U.S.-spec Mazda 6 to arrive later this fall.

Department of Transportation Confirms 54.5 MPG Fuel Economy Standard

The Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency announced new rules that will see the corporate average fuel economy requirement for light cars and trucks climb to 54.5 mpg by 2025. The regulations have changed little from those originally proposed by the Obama Administration last year. The agencies claim that the new 2017-2025 rules will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the gas pump over the course of the program, and reduce the nation’s carbon-dioxide emissions by six billion metric tons. The innovation required by automakers to reach these higher economy goals is also expected to fuel job creation. There’s one downside, however: although the EPA and DOT say the average customer will save $8000 in gas costs over the course of a new 2025 vehicle, those vehicles are expected to cost $1800 more than an equivalent 2012 car.

First Look: 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 and Carrera 4 S

Porsche revealed its 911 Carrera 4 and Carrera 4 S, all-wheel-drive versions of the company’s new, 991-generation Carrera and Carrera S sports cars. There are very few changes aside from the addition of all-wheel-drive; on Carrera 4 models, the rear fenders are 0.87 inch wider and the rear tires are 0.39 inch wider, and there’s a new LED strip connecting the taillights. Porsche says the new models are just as quick and will hit essentially the same top speeds as rear-wheel-drive versions. In addition, Porsche announced that it is adding adaptive cruise control, a sliding glass sunroof, and an automatic rev-matching system to all versions of the new 911 Carrera.

First Look: 2013 Nissan Sentra

The 2013 Nissan Sentra looks like a scaled-down version of the new 203 Altima, which is a good thing. The new Sentra compact sedan is far more stylish than before, and it’s also much more efficient. A new 1.8-liter inline-four engine produces 130 hp and, when connected to Nissan’s newest continuously variable transmission, will return 30/39 mpg (city/highway). Opting for the special FE+ package will raise highway fuel economy to 40 mpg. The car’s interior is much smarter than before, although it is overall a plain design dominated by black plastics. New tech toys include navigation and a backup camera, although the equipment list on the base Sentra is still quite short. The 2013 Nissan Sentra goes on sale this fall.

2013 Buick Encore Rated At 25/33 MPG With Front-Wheel Drive

Buick revealed that the 2013 Encore compact crossover will return fuel economy of 25/33 mpg (city/highway) in its front-wheel-drive configuration. Those figures stack up well against comparable near-luxury crossovers, as well as similarly sized entrants like the Audi A3 hatchback. The Buick Encore was introduced at the Detroit auto show and it goes on sale early next year. The compact crossover is intended to draw younger buyers to the Buick brand. The only powertrain choice is a 140-hp, turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-four with a six-speed automatic transmission. Buick will announce fuel economy for all-wheel-drive versions of the Encore at a later date.

Ford Launching Lincoln Luxury Brand In China By 2014

Ford will introduce its luxury division, Lincoln, to China by late 2014. The company is currently recruiting dealers in China, and plans to put the first cars on sale about two years from now. The idea is to cash in on China’s growing luxury-car market, which Lincoln expects will reach 2.7 million units annually by 2020. Parent company Ford already has made big inroads in China, and plans to sell a total of 15 vehicles with 20 different powertrains by 2015. Al told, Ford hopes that Lincoln’s launch into China will help the company increase global sales by 50 percent, to eight million units annually, by 2015.

Spyker, Youngman Ink Deal To Revive Saab’s Phoenix Platform

It seems like every time the story of Saab dies, it returns a few months later — almost like the mythical Phoenix that bursts into flames and later is reborn. This time, Saab’s former parent Spyker plans to hook up with Chinese automaker Youngman, which once planned to bail-out Saab before its bankruptcy. Spyker and Youngman now plan to build new cars, some of them built on the stillborn “Phoenix” chassis that was meant to underpin future Saab cars. The deal works out well because, conveniently, Youngman already received rights to the Phoenix architecture in 2011. What vehicles will emerge from this collaboration? For now, we’ll have to wait and see.

2014 Smart ForTwo Test Mule Caught on the Road

Our spy photographers snapped the next smart fortwo testing, and it’s clear the tiny city car will be thoroughly redesigned for the 2014 model year. For one, the car no longer has its narrow-and-tall proportions, instead displaying a slightly wider track that reminds us of the Scion iQ’s compact proportions. Gone, too, are the old car’s dated jellybean headlights and vertical taillights. Though these spy pictures don’t tell us much more than the car’s basic outline, we already know the 2014 smart fortwo will have all-new engines and transmissions — the latter finally solving one of our largest criticisms of the urban run-around.

2012 Toyota Camry SE Sport to Go on Sale This Weekend

Toyota announced it will start selling the Camry SE Sport, but despite the name this version of the popular midsize sedan has no extra performance updates. Instead, those who shell out $26,790 (after destination) get a Toyota Camry SE with 18-inch wheels, a power driver’s seat, and a 6.1-inch Entune touch-screen infotainment system. Under the hood is the same 178-hp, 2.5-liter inline-four and six-speed automatic transmission as any other Camry SE.

First Drives: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and 2013 BMW 7-series

The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is the newest five-passenger crossover from Hyundai. Whereas the old Santa Fe straddled the compact and mid-size segments, the new model offers a comfortable balance of mid-size roominess, compact efficiency, and premium interior quality. It’s even fun to drive if equipped with the 264-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-four engine. The 2013 BMW 7-series receives only minor changes, the first update to this generation of the luxury car since its introduction in 2010. There are slight revisions to the styling, new LED headlights, eight-speed automatics replace the old six-speed transmissions, and the car receives the latest version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. There also is a new Alpina B7, an amped-up 7-series that has a 540-hp, twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 and various suspension tweaks.