Tag: Mazda

Mazda MX5- RF: Best weekend car, worst weekday car.

Mazda MX5-RF

Mazda MX5- RF Driven Review

Weekend vehicle:

Definition: “That car that makes you forget about all your problems and dependants for a period of time, preferably early mornings when the kids or the wife is asleep.” TheMotorist Dictionary

Let us begin…

“Ah, two seats, low center of gravity, a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine and a targa top roof. What more could you want” was just one of my thoughts, as I eagerly awaited the arrival of Mazda’s MX5-RF. I’d heard great things about this car and after driving it, I’m here to tell you why it may be the perfect weekend car for someone on a reasonable budget.   

From the outside, the MX5 is a looker. It’s low, features a long front end with sharp striking details such as shark-like headlights and grille. Add the meteor grey paintwork to it and it really does look sublime and sporty. It’s near perfect for a  South African Sunday summer drive. Affordable sports cars are a rarity today, so there’s not much to compare the MX5 RF with, hence why it’s difficult to call it affordable. R532 800 may not be a cheap, but it’s cheaper than what you would pay for one of its few rivals. In fact, it’s over R100K cheaper than a Fiat 124 Spider.

So it looks the part, but what makes it extra special? It’s funny, what makes me love it on the weekends is what makes me dislike it during the week. Let’s start with the obvious – it’s small. I’m not what you would describe as a tall person, I am actually on the shorter side of life (as much as I hate to admit it). I am also pretty youthful at 25, and my BMI is probably in the normal range, depending on how much time I’ve spent with my colleagues. Still, getting in and out the MX-5 is a mission, partly due to how low it sits from the ground coupled with the tight interior cabin. I found myself panting as if I haven’t kicked a soccer ball in years each time I had to get in. So then, getting in and out of the car, is a maneuver you probably don’t want to be doing at least twice a day. Doing this everyday of the week, in bad weather, when your back is sore, or when you are late for work is not going to leave you feeling thrilled. On a very bad day, this entire procedure will just make everything worse, a “straw that broke the camel’s” back scenario could easily ensue. You may not strike the nearest person to you, or quit your job out of anger, but you will make use of many expletives and remember why your wife said this vehicle won’t work.  

Once you have finally acrobatically seated yourself, the cabin is rather snug too. It’s not particularly comfortable either. What it is though, is very engaging. You feel “at one with the car” At least that’s what the brochure of the vehicle says. This feeling maybe not be what you want to experience everyday of your life. Traffic is traffic, so it’s rather pointless feeling like you’re in a go-kart if you can’t do anything about it. The interior storage space is also fairly limited, there is a cubby hole in the centre and behind the seats. In order to use the rear one, you need the neck skills of an owl. I also didn’t know where to put the key, my wallet and even my phone, thus wedging them in between my legs, thus increasing my risk of testicular cancer. Once again, not ideal.

Then comes the issues of driving on the road, I found that because the mX5 is so small and low, taxis, trucks and buses struggled to see me. Careful attention and the odd maneuver, helped me avoid getting sideswiped or frankly squashed – not a worry you need on the daily run to the office. So then when is the perfect time to use this car?

Imagine now you only needed to deal with these issues once a week, on quiet roads with the wind in your hair and the sun beating down on your forehead. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so bad. These problems all disappear as your chase the next best road, something the MX5 loves doing.

The Mazda MX-5 RF excels as a weekend car, or even a vehicle you drive to work on the odd occasion. It’s fun and sporty demeanor means that these everyday issues are just blips on the radar, when the car is used for what it was built to do –  be driven hard.

As much as the MX-5 may have many little annoyances, driving is one area it excels. It’s not about its engine, it’s the package as a whole. What makes it exasperating everyday is what makes it great when the right time comes. The low ride height gives it sense of fun and a “go-karty” feel. The 2.0 litre naturally aspirated engine is also punchy and free revving. All of these attributes combined, make for a very fun driving experience.

What’s funny is that the MX-5 isn’t mind blowingly fast. Even though it’s rear wheel driven, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to throw heaps of oversteer at you when you least expect it. Instead it makes you work for it. Working for it is the best part, as we live in a world where power in most cars is so accessible, it can take the fun away.  That is what stood out about the Mazda MX-5 RF for me. It can also be driven enthusiastically and enjoyed by drivers who may not have that much experience handling powerful rear wheel drive cars. It’s fun, but accessible. I’d love to say it’s perfect, but it’s not. Where Mazda missed the off ramp with this car is the gearbox. Had they left the 6 speed manual found in the MX5 roadster, the RF would be damn near perfect. Unfortunately, gear changes are made via an automatic gearbox, which can get in the way of your experience.

Put that aside and the Mazda MX-5 RF provides great summer fun. As a daily, I’d have something else, but if I had some monies lying around, it would park in my garage as a toy. Being in the city, convenience and ease of drive is a big thing for many of us. One can’t just “get up and go” with the MX-5. You would need to “get up, try get in, eventually get in, get comfortable, drop your phone, get annoyed and then go”. On a weekend however, for those moments alone on a blissfully quiet road and less worries, you’ll love it.

VW Tiguan 2.0 TDI vs Mazda Akera 2.2

VW Tiguan v Mazda CX-5: Which do you pick?

There are more and more options becoming available for buyers when it comes to the compact SUV. For many, they make perfect sense. Great looks, practicality and are what make these vehicles popular. The demand is growing and so is the market as more manufacturers release their version of a compact SUV.

2017 Mazda CX-5

This year South Africa has seen two vehicles in particular that offer very good packages. The first being Volkswagen’s new Tiguan which took the country by storm with its design and style and is now available in the 2.0-litre diesel variant. Offering a similar package is Mazda’s updated CX-5 Akera 2.2, which since its facelift also offers a very nice overall package indeed.

Both vehicles are similar in price, offer All-Wheel-Drive and also feature diesel power plants, but which is the best option for you?

Performance

The power output in both vehicles is nearly identical with the VW Tiguan producing 130 kW and the CX-5 coming in just 1 kW short at 129 kW. The main difference between these two engines in Torque, If this was a game of Top Trumps, the Mazda would take the card here with a 420 Nm output compared to the Tiguan’s 380 Nm.

What does this mean? In terms of outright pace, there isn’t much between them, the Torque difference, however, is noticeable.  If you’re one for towing or off-road adventures, the extra 40 Nm will probably come in handy.

4Motion v AWD

Things can get confusing when it comes to four-wheel drive technology, as many brands use different names and terms for their systems, in reality though, they all do the same job and this is the case here. 4Motion is simply VW’s name for their all-wheel-drive system and both vehicles use technology which deciphers which wheels have the most traction and thus supplying power to these wheels. In normal driving conditions, the vehicle remains in a 2WD setup which ultimately means less fuel consumption.

While AWD systems are not as capable as full-blown four-wheel drive systems, It definitely provides an advantage in the safety department, andy and if you find yourself on a rather loose surface from time to time.

Design and Styling

I once said that the Tiguan is possibly one of the most beautiful vehicles on the road, and I still stand by this. With all the nice bits and trimmings, I feel it oozes style and class with the right amount of aggression. On the other hand, the CX-5 is a really good looking car, it has a large front grill and narrow sharp headlights which really do my fancy. If I am picking a winner here, it’s Tiguan all the way, I think its a much sexier vehicle and definitely is more of a head turner. 

Interior

This is a close call, the interior found in the Tiguan is great and the optional technology does add that extra spice. Quite frankly though, the Mazda CX-5 takes the cake here. It may not have an Active Info Display to replace the classic dials, but I feel the Mazda uses better materials and more metals. The Tiguan may have slightly more practicality but in terms of luxury and style, it’s the CX-5 all the way.

2017 Mazda CX-5

So what do you pick?

This depends on two factors, Firstly,  what kind of person you are and the second and possibly more important factor, Price. If you like the limelight and love to stand out then the Tiguan is probably the one you would prefer, it has more road presence and will definitely turn more heads but it will also cost you more money. The Tiguan TDI 2.0 Highline 4motion starts at R566,900 and doesn’t include the Active Info Display, 8” Discover Pro infotainment system, DYNAudio system or leather Upholstery.

2017 Mazda CX-5

On the other hand, the CX-5 is definitely the more understated vehicle and while it comes in just shy of the Tiguan at R561,700, it includes a BOSE 10-speaker system, a head-up display, navigation, leather seats and an electronically sliding sunroof (R11,500 option on the Tiguan).   

In overview, the CX-5 is definitely providing the most value for money, whereas the Tiguan offers a different appeal of style and image, whilst also being backed by the VW brand, which as we know is extremely popular in South Africa. Either way, both cars offer great packages and whichever you pick you will be happy ( Unless you’re sitting in a Tiguan at the starting line of a trailer drag race.)

South African Launch: 2017 Mazda CX-5

2017 Mazda CX-5

Our First Drive of the New 2017 Mazda CX-5

The automotive space is an interesting one, one in which manufacturers are able to express themselves and the particular traits of their brand which has inevitably been influenced and shaped by the environment in which they were established. Take a look at several vehicles on the market in South Africa and devoid of all branding, one would probably still be able to pin point the origin of a vehicle based purely on elements such as build quality and design. The Italians have their, wait for it….flair and emotion (vomit) and the Germans their no-nonsense and near flawless balance between form and function.

The Japanese, however, have always had an approach which perhaps mirrors their vastly different way of going about life. This is great in that variety and diversity is great, but consumers are unlikely to buy a car painted like a panda bear with a Hello Kitty shaped steering wheel so expression in moderation is a good idea.

New Mazda CX-5

The new Mazda CX-5 is undoubtedly a car with a Japanese design, but it’s certainly more of a geisha than a beckoning cat. Mazda’s KODO: Soul of Motion design language has evolved somewhat from the previous CX-5 and as such, the new model is both distinctly Japanese, yet more mature than the outgoing model. It’s silhouette, a haunchy rear end with a stretched out bonnet, somewhat reminds one of the Maserati Levante and Infiniti FX/QX. Its convex grille, flanked by thin and striking headlights, gives the CX-5 a striking rear-view mirror presence, especially when finished in their new Soul Red Crystal colour which has been fine-tuned to highlight the shadows and curves of the vehicle’s bodywork.

New Mazda CX-5

While Mazda’s have always managed to remain somewhat abreast with advancements in vehicle technology and industry development, their interiors were always a bit of a disappointment. Cheap plastics and the smell of glue come to mind but thankfully, there will be no glue-sniffing in the cabin of the CX-5. Mazda’s long term projection of becoming a viable alternative to the “German three” while ambitious, seems more attainable than ever with this new model really upping the game in terms of perceived quality and finish. The CX-5 really does feel like a premium product and impressive NVH levels also do well to cement this.

As with all things in life, though, it’s not all gentle summer rain and bubble baths as the engine line-up (carried over from the outgoing CX-5) is unchanged. 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre petrol engines and a 2.2-litre diesel are the three engines to choose from and while on paper Mazda’s SKYACTIV Technology works well, in the real world it just feels lacking in certain aspects. This sort of vehicle benefits hugely from the low-down torque on offer from forced induction and while the diesel motor is able to deliver this, the petrols have to be pushed beyond 3 000 rpm to access their not insignificant amounts of torque. Power figures are 121 kW/210 N.m for the 2.0-litre petrol, 143 kW/257 N.m for the 2.5-litre petrol and 129 kW/420 N.m for the diesel and while these seem like decent figures, in practice I couldn’t help but imagine how well a turbo motor would work here. Anyway, Mazda has heard this time and time again, yet they still stick to their N/A ways so rather than complain about it, just get the 2.2-litre diesel – it’s my pick of the bunch anyway.

Active LED headlights, heads-up display, power-lift tailgate and a 10-speaker Bose sound system, lane keep assist, navigation and smart city braking with pedestrian detection all come standard on higher-specced models but standard specification across the board is also impressive featuring self-levelling auto LED headlamps, Bluetooth and a 7-inch full colour touch screen with reverse camera.

MazdaCare comes standard across the range which comprises of a 3 year/unlimted km service plan, warranty and roadside assistance.

A premium product from a brand who are heading in the right direction, the CX-5 is another reminder of how Mazda has benefitted from the Ford split, having come leaps and strides in the past few years. The CX-5 faces tough competition from the likes of Volkswagen’s stellar Tiguan and the Hyundai Tucson, but with bang on pricing and a properly good product, they shouldn’t have much to fear.

Pricing is as follows:

Mazda CX-5 2.0L Active FWD                  R379 900
Mazda CX-5 2.0L Active Auto FWD        R391 900
Mazda CX-5 2.0L Dynamic FWD             R404 900
Mazda CX-5 2.0L Dynamic Auto FWD   R416 900
Mazda CX-5 2.2L DE Active Auto FWD  R459 400
Mazda CX-5 2.5L Individual Auto FWD  R491 900
Mazda CX-5 2.2L DE Akera AWD             R557 500

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated Mazda BT-50

Mazda’s goal when they first introduced the BT-50 was to supply with South Africa with a lifestyle vehicle, which would appeal to business users but also a wider range of customers, those such as families and adventurers.

This is where the Bakkie market has changed over recent years, they are not only designed with the primary function of a workhorse vehicle. Bakkies today are more stylish, with more features and technology to appeal to a wider audience, the surfers, climbers, hikers of this world Or the camping family who ventures off to various places of our beautiful country.

In light of this,  Mazda has released the updated BT-50, and it’s aimed at the recreational type of buyer.

Exterior

As with most updated vehicles, the updated BT-50 has a sportier look and feel, the major changes to the Mazda include the front end, side steps, rear lights and 17” Aluminium wheels.

Personally, I’m not yet a big fan of the rear end, and we all know how important that this. My biggest grind is with the rear lights, I do not like the design and style, but maybe it will grow on me.

Interior

Technology is the biggest change here with the BT-50, on the base SLX Model options such as Bluetooth, steering wheel controls and cruise control has been added.  The SLE Models have even greater technology enhancements with options such as a rear-view camera, auto dimming mirror, electric seat adjustment, dual zone aircon, auto headlights, rain sensing wipers and parking sensors added to the standard list. The top of the range SLE models adds features such as Load Adaptive Control, Hill Launch, Decent Control, Trailer Sway and Rollover Mitigation.

Drivetrain 

The 2.2l Mazda engines in this range produce 110KW (147BHP) and 375Nm of Torque. If this is not enough, you can opt for the 3.2L engine with provides 147kw (196BHP) and 470Nm of torque.

Models

All models come with  3-year unlimited KM warranty, 3 – year service plan and 3-year roadside assistance.

BT-50 DBL 2.2L 6MT 4X2 HR SLX 441,600

BT-50 DBL 2.2L 6MT 4X2 HR SLE 477,700

BT-50 DBL 2.2L 6AT 4X2 HR SLE 497,700

BT-50 DBL 3.2L 6MT 4X4 HR SLE 541,700

BT-50 DBL 3.2L 6AT 4X4 HR SLE  555,700

For a full spec list, visit here:  http://www.mazda.co.za/cars/mazda-bt50-facelift/

Mazda CX-5 Driven Review

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The Mazda CX-5 is a great looking vehicle, albeit slightly feminine. Climbing into the CX-5 for the first time was a pleasant experience – I was welcomed with black leather, a clean and classy interface and aluminium trim. It’s a lovely interior and what stood out to me in this car was the build quality of the little things like volume adjustment and the menu scroll. Milled from metal, they both felt well built and using them was luxury esqe. A small but notable feature was the dual USB ports sitting under the display in a small cubby hole – I can’t remember how many times this would have been extremely useful when on road trips with family and friends but it would have been many!

The CX-5 I’ve been driving is the 2.2L Akera Diesel, AWD and automatic. This is the highest spec that Mazda offer and it comes with its fair share of features such as a Bose Audio System, Sat-Nav, Power Lumbar Support, LED Adaptive headlights, blind-spot assist and much more. It’s a very long list, and even the entry-level model has a few nice extras, so I’m not going to list them all here. I did find myself on more than one occasion hitting the boot handle and waiting for it to open, only realising soon after that it’s manually operated. It would have been nice to have had an electronically operated one, like many of its competitors and its something that is probably expected for the R533 400 price tag.

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The diesel engine on this CX-5 in an interesting one, it almost feels like it is Naturally Aspirated, but it does, in fact, have a two-stage turbocharger. The Mazda engine features a lower compression ratio which means they can use lighter parts while reducing friction. This is seen in the performance as it has a very linear power delivery and doesn’t mind working in the higher RPM ranges.  Producing a very acceptable 129Kw and 420Nm of torque which enables the CX-5 to pull quite nicely, and once it gets going, it flies.

Regarding driving dynamic, I was expecting a little more. The initial turn in response is a little slow, and at times I found the CX-5 experienced a little too much body roll in the corner. Apart from this, though, the ride quality is good, and after taking the CX-5 on a little off road adventure, it soaked up the lumps and bumps there as well. It surprised me because the CX-5 can come across a little soft from the exterior, but it’s actually a robust vehicle which holds itself well and can handle some rough terrain.

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During the time I had the CX-5 on a test, the new facelifted model was released, which is expected to arrive in South Africa around mid-2017. The new CX-5 features the same engine variants but has an updated, more aggressive design. This new model also features G-Vectoring Control, a new technology under Mazda’s SKYACTIV-VEHICLE-DYNAMICS which controls adverse vehicle motions during cornering.

If you’re interested in purchasing a CX-5, there are a few things to consider – you could very well get a great deal on the current model, but you may want the latest facelifted CX-5, in which case you are just going to have to wait a little longer.

 

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Drive review: Mazda 3 Astina sedan

Narrowing the gap: Driving the Mazda 3

In the past one had to buy a very premium car to get features like electric seats, reverse camera and head – up display. Those days are gone because brands like Mazda are giving their clients the same features at half the price. Does this mean you get half the car in terms of build quality? We managed to answer that question when we drove the Mazda 3 2.0 litre Astina sedan.

Bold and beautiful:

The outward design elements of the Mazda 3’s design are bold and dare we say it, beautiful.  The front end is as dramatic as the actual show itself, with sharp lines from the headlights and a large grille meeting up to create an appealing look. The rest of the car is also attractive to look at, on top of that our test unit had the larger wheels fitted to it, making the stance of the car more aggressive.

The interior of the Mazda 3 is where the car shines, the dashboard although simple in design is built very well.  Japanese meticulousness can be seen all around through the well stitched leather seats and the overall set up of the interior. The various options that the touch-screen infotainment system gives you, are all easily accessible though the centre console which has been placed in a convenient place for the driver to navigate. Entertainment wise, the Bose sound system we had thumped away to our Bluetooth streamed music, keeping us entertained in traffic. Keeping our eyes on the road was Mazda’s head – up display that projects onto a small screen on the dashboard.

newmzd

Solid and Spacious:

The ride quality in the Mazda 3 can’t be faulted as the vehicle feels well grounded on the road. The steering of the car is direct and comfort levels are where you would expect them to be, if not better than what you would expect. Occupants will also not battle for space in the car as there is ample room for five to sit and not have backache after a few hours.

The 2.0 litre engine in the Mazda 3 Astina is normally aspirated and quite high revving, which is great for coastal drivers but us inlanders up in the reef may long for more torque, even though the car develops 121 kW/ 210 Nm. The test unit we drove was fitted with the automatic gearbox which did well from a comfort point of view, but it did tend to have a mind of its own when a lower gear was needed to overtake. Despite the Mazda feeling “old – school” in terms of the engine due to the lack of a turbocharger, when it gets going on an open road it does a good job of picking up speed and maintaining it.

 

Verdict:

At a starting  price of R232 000 and R330 800 for the top of the range Astina, the Mazda 3 sedan is a very well priced vehicle. Bang for buck, few cars can compete with what this car offers in its class. To answer the question posed in the beginning, one does not get half the car. What you do get is a well built and well-specified sedan. The gap is narrowing due to cars like these being on the market and with many people tightening their belts due to the economic crisis, cars like the Mazda 3 are going to make much more sense.

 

mazda3-astina-sedan-2016-9