Mazda South Africa is finishing up the details regarding its sepearation with Ford South Africa. The brand will no longer be the red-headed step child hiding in the corner whilst big brother Ford grabs all the limelight. To mark this momentous occasion for Mazda, it has launched three models into the South African market. The Mazda 3 hatch and sedan, the Mazda 6 and a renewed CX-5 have made the list.
Mazda 3The Mazda 3 has always been an underdog in the C-segment hatchback market. The new model makes use of Skyactiv engine technology, which in its 2-litre petrol engine means an extremely high compression ratio of 14:1. Compare that to its naturally aspirated rivals at around 10:1 and you can see that it’s a much more forceful bang out of the engine. Mazda say that it increases power, torque, efficiency and therefore fuel economy as well.
Mazda 3 is available in both 1.6-litre and 2-litre petrol models. The 2-litre we drove on launch predictably coped well with its 121 kW and 210 Nm whilst fuel economy is kept to around 6.1l/100km. The interior is nicely built with an array of soft touch materials and leather seats. There’s two USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity via the iPad style touchscreen on the centre of the dashboard. It is controlled via a centre switch, much like a BMW’s iDrive system or Merc and Audi equivalent. Nice tech for a hatchaback.
During our launch route drive the Mazda 3’s notable feat was the cabin insulation, wind noise is kept to a minimum whilst the engine is hardly audible at all. The ride is also plush, landing somewhere in the middle between sporty and comfortable. Connected to a smooth and soft shifting six speed manual the Mazda 3 is a pleasant car to drive.
Mazda 6Our first glimpse of the all-new Mazda 6 in SA and it’s a stylish car from the outside, Mazda’s Kodo design language (soul of motion) resulting in a sleek, low centered appearance. There’s a choice of three engines for the 6 as we'll have two petrols and a diesel to choose from, all with some form of Skyactive technology in them. If petrol is your thing then there’s a 2-litre with 114kW and 200Nm or a 2.5-litre with 138 kW and 250 Nm. The engine linuep is completed by a 2.2-litre diesel with 129 kW and 420 Nm. We had a chance to drive the diesel with the six-speed automatic transmission. It’s a very clean pulling diesel engine with very little diesel clatter apparent and torque seems to be distributed evenly throughout the revs rather than in one big lump like is so often the case with turbodiesels.
The interior gets an upgrade from the 3 with a dual-zone climate control system and loads more space – especially for rear passengers. The iPad style entertainment system is dropped in favour of a different touchscreen system, but I’m not sure it’s as good as the one in the 3, it feels like an add-on piece rather than an integrated system like the 3 has.
The ride and drive is also particularly good, the 6 does a good job of hiding its size feeling quite nimble and comfortable over the course of our drive. It will definitely make a great long distance mile-muncher. It's up against competition such as: Honda Accord, BMW 3 Series, Merc C-Class and Audi A4.
Mazda CX-5The Mazda CX-5 is still a relatively new model in SA having only been launched in 2012, the update then comes in the form of a diesel engine with two power options and an all-wheel drive version. Petrol versions are still available with a 1.6-litre and a 2-litre. The diesel is the same 2.2-litre from the Mazda 6 but makes do with just 110 kW and 380 Nm of torque. In all-wheel drive it unleashes the full 129 kW and 420 Nm of torque that the 6 has. Both the 2-litre petrol and 2.5-litre are also available in the CX-5
The CX-5 is a good compact SUV that takes on the likes of the new Qashqai, Sportage, Tiguan and ix35. With a wider range of engines and better value for money, it could well be a contender on our Best Compact SUVs list. Inside it feels very similar to the Mazda 6 as far as layout goes and it’s well equipped in the lower powered diesel we drove.
Road manners and handling are admirable in the CX-5, again like much of the new range, attention has been paid to making sure the car feels stable on the road and the driver has faith in its abilities. It rides nicely on tarmac but a better assessment will need to be made on its dirt road talent when we get one for a full test.
Mazda seems to have big plans for South Africa over the next three years and hopes to grow it back to pre-recession numbers. They launch with a vast dealer network and a pretty good warranty deal where these three vehicles all come with three-year unlimited mileage warranties.
|Mazda 3||R232 900 to R326 300|
|Mazda 6||R342 000 to R430 500|
|Mazda CX-5||R316 600 to R456 100|