Mazda3 of 2019

The new Mazda3 is a thing of beauty.

Mazda3 2019

The 7th generation Mazda3 sets a new milestone as the first production model to lead Mazda into a bold new era. Blending beautiful design and exhilarating driving dynamics, Mazda3 was developed to inspire and create an emotional bond and deep engagement with its customers.

“The Mazda3 is a strategic model that has driven Mazda’s growth from both a brand and business perspective. The outgoing 6th generation Mazda3 has delivered Mazda’s renowned driving pleasure to over 12 000 Southern Africa customers. Our mission is to build on this legacy and deliver a product that will exceed both customer expectations and industry standard with the next–generation Mazda3. The next generation of Mazda cars will enhance the value of the car-ownership experience. Through these products, Mazda Southern Africa, together with our dealer partners, aim to further raise Mazda’s brand value and work towards our goal of building ever stronger bonds our customers.” Comments Craig Roberts, Managing Director – Mazda Southern Africa.

Mazda3 in polymetal grey

New Mazda3 interior

As soon as I get to drive this car you will get a report. Hopefully it will be quite soon.

#mazda #mazda3

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Wheelswrite car of the year 2018

The year of the SUV – 2018

We started 2018 on a pretty high note with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. In many ways just what you would expect an Alfa SUV to be. A big step up for Alfa. What could top it?

Nissan X-trail in Onrus

The next car we tested to really impress was the new Nissan X-trail. At the time I said: “Interestingly the new ‘facelifted’ Nissan X-trail, which I have been driving this week got as many , if not more ‘stop and stares’ (as the Stelvio). Especially men.”

Early in February we reported on the very capable Mitsubishu Sport and later in the month the seriously facelifted Mahindra Pik-Up.

At the end of March we drove two very good SUV’s the “new” Kuga and Mazda CX-5 of which I said at the time: “The Mazda CX-5 is not just another crossover SUV wannabe. It is a refined, well rounded car which leads the way in so many ways.”

Nissan Navara LE 4×2 Auto

In March it was the turn of two very good bakkies. Nissan’s new Navara and Ford’s fancy FX4. The Navara is burly and it’s a bit of a beast and is the basis for a whole slew of models from several brands.
And then perhaps the cat among the pigeons. The Peugeot 3008. The 3008 comes with high specification levels and exceptionally good exterior and classy interior design. It not only looks stunning, it is very clever.

You will notice a lot of SUV’s and crossovers in this list.

The year of the SUV – 2018.

In May we had the pleasure of sampling two German examples of the crossover wave. The spacious Tiguan Allspace and the Opel Grandland. The Allspace is pleasant and easy to drive in town and out touring. VW have created a really comfortable, spacious cabin. The Grandland is based on the same platform as the 3008. Similar substance but very different style.

Mazda MX5

In the spring the fresh new VW Polo GTi really impressed. At the time we said: ”A few months ago we reported about the Mazda MX-5 and how it had a grin factor. You just can’t help grinning while driving it. Well, this new VW Polo GTi also has a huge grin factor.” We really loved the Polo GTi. It gives the Golf GTi a run for its money.
The Peugeot 208 GT was another pleasing car. Similar to the Polo GTi in some respects but very different in others.
I like Suzukis so really looked forward to the new Swift. It is new from the wheels up. I thought it a delightful little runabout.

Early in December I drove two astounding SUV’s. Peugeot’s touring oriented 3008 GT-Line and Haval’s off-road toughie, the H9. Both cars do the job required of them extremely well.

Probably the sweetest car I drove this year is the Mazda MX-5 Targa. A driver’s joy, but a strict two-seater and really a toy, in the sense that it’s whole reason to exist is fun, nothing more, nothing less. The most focused car was without a doubt the Ford Fiesta RS200 Limited Edition,

Ford ST200 LE

fun, fast and almost practical.

So, which to pick?

Must be a SUVish type of vehicle. Surely.

I am tempted to pick the Haval H9, it really is that good, especially if you need low range. The Mazda CX-5 is just such a good car though.
The Peugeot 3008 GT-Line was a pleasant surprise and oh-so capable in its context. Mmmm. Let’s not forget the X-trail and the Allspace.

Damn.

May I pick the SUV as car of the year?

Or just go with the Polo GTi.

Mazda 2 1.5 DE Hazumi 6AT 5DR review

Mazda2

Mazda2

Mazda2

Mazda are back with a bang in South Africa. Good looking cars. Great new engines. All the safety kit.
The Mazda2 we are reviewing here has big shoes to fill. Remember the two versions of 323 we had back in the day? Good cars which seemingly lasted for ever. This new 4th generation model was Car of the Year in Japan in its launch year.

Mazda2

Mazda2

Our test car had a beautiful colour, Smoky Rose, better in the flesh than in a photo. The same can be said about the exterior of this Mazda2. Very pleasing to look at. Mazda calls their design philosophy ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ design. They kind of get it right, I think.

The interior is neat, uncluttered and smart, with a few luxury aspects like red stitching on the dash cowling and soft touch where it matters. The half leather trim seats are comfortable and quite adjustable. A premium cabin that not only looks good, but feels right and exudes quality.
So it looks right, but how does it perform?

The 6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission couples directly with the engine and combines the best aspects of a conventional automatic, continuously variable (CVT) and dual clutch transmissions. It is brilliant and points to the future.

mazda2_16_rear

This model has a very modern up-to-date robust 1.5 turbodiesel engine which develops 250Nm of torque and 77kW of power. Mazda claims a fuel consumption of 4.4L/100km and I got a very creditable 5.8L/100km in real life driving. Acceleration and top speed is fine but is definitely geared to economy. The chassis has been well set up and delivers great handling and superb road holding. As with Mazda in general, it’s a fun car to drive, and it has all the safety kit.

MZD Connect is the Mazda infotainment system. It is a complete system with a multi function commander rotary control just like on swanky German cars, a 7” touchscreen, Bluetooth and USB connections, clear, intuitive menu, several other functions and even includes internet radio (Pandora, sticher and aha). Pretty nifty. Easy to use and works well.

The Mazda 2 1.5 DE Hazumi 6AT 5DR as tested costs R290 700. The range starts at R204 100 for the 1.5 Active, which has the very good Skyactive petrol engine and feels seriously quick.

Mazda price list here. 

I would rather get the Mazda2 1.5 petrol Individual automatic at R227 200 if I was buying a B class car now. If you need a slightly bigger car have a look at the Ford Focus 1.0T.

You get a 3-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty , a 3-year service plan and a 5-year Corrosion Warranty.

Other cars in this segment include the brilliant Honda Jazz, Ford Fiesta and Focus 1.0T, Kia Rio, Hyundai i30, Toyota Yaris, VW Polo and Renault Clio.

Mazda2

Mazda2

Mazda CX-5 2.2L DE Akera AWD Automatic review

Mazda CX-5  2.2L DE Akera AWD Automatic

Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5

Mazda sells just over 50 cars a day, of which the Mazda 3 and CX-5 make up 55%. Mazda CX-5 sales in particular grew by 93% over the past year, making the model the segment leader in the Compact SUV Segment, helped no doubt by the clever positioning of the six model range.

Why are so many people buying the CX-5?

Styling

Kodo is the mantra at the Mazda design office. They rave on about soul of motion styling with flowing lines in a package that melts away the boundaries between the interior and exterior.

Mazda CX-5 at Boschendal

Mazda CX-5 at Boschendal

It is a good looking car, inside and out. The lines are pleasing and it just looks balanced. This new generation of Mazda’s are all good looking cars but I think this CX-5 and the sporty MX-5 get it perfectly right. That balance between standing out from the crowd, but not being outlandish. It is a design that should age well.

Interior

mazda_cx5_dashI particularly liked the three different textures or surfaces from soft to semi-soft the hard plastic. Areas which you will see but rarely touch are generally semi-soft, areas you will touch tend to be soft touch and wearing surfaces hard. Not only clever and practical, but also stylish and effective.

Mazda’s infotainment system is called MZD Connect. It is an intuitive easy to use system. The controls and switches on the MX-5 just sit where they should, and work the way they should. They are a pleasure to use.

The two top models get an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumber support. Upholstery is leather. These seats are really comfortable.

You can tell that Mazda are aiming at the top end of the market with their top models and now match Audi with this interior.

Technically

Mazda’s 2.2 turbo-diesel engine puts out 129kW and delivers a solid 420Nm. Much more than you need for a car of this size, but its nice to have and makes overtaking a breeze. Fuel consumption is very good at an average 7.3 litres/ 100km for the week I drove the car.

I drove the smaller CX-3 with the 2.0 litre normally aspirated petrol engine and can report it is spirited and I got 8 litres/ 100km, in the smaller SUV.

The new Mazda auto shifter combines the best attributes of conventional automatic, continuously variable and dual clutch transmissions. It works for me.

Most models have Blind Spot Monitoring and Lane Keep Assist, both of which really enhance safety.

In the smarter models ( Individual and Akera models) the Adaptive Front-Lighting System swivel up to 15 degrees in the direction you’re steering, revealing more of the corner. These lights also automatically adjust for oncoming traffic.

Mazda CX-5 with the Drakenstein

Mazda CX-5 with the Drakenstein

Handling

Sweet. In a nutshell, she handles sweetly. The CX-5 feels nimble and sits well on the road.

Summary

This new generation CX-5 is an advanced luxury car which offers top class safety and luxury with really good performance, handling and fuel economy. I liked it and would personally consider it if I was in the market now.

Price

From R363 900 for the 2.0 L Active petrol to the 2.2 diesel Akera as tested at R533 400.

Full price list here.

Mazda gives you a 3 year unlimited km warranty and service plan.

Competition

Nissan Qashqai and X-trail, Audi Q3, Kia Sportage, Suzuki Vitara, Honda CR-V, VW Tiguan, Toyota RAV 4, Renault Kadjar.

mazda_cx5_bum

Mazda MX-5 2.0L Roadster Coupe STP review

Mazda MX-5 2.0L Roadster Coupe STP

It’s not practical.

Who cares, with the roof down, sun shining, the road open and you are piloting a MX 5 Miata. mazda_mx5_thumbMotoring bliss. Officially its just an MX-5, but I love the Miata moniker; forgive me.

It is a mobile grin generator. You can’t help it.

But does it have a boot?

Well sort of. If you only have a tog bag and a laptop, no worries. Its big enough for a two basket shopping trip. Who needs more? The MX 5 will never pass any pram test, but you could fit one large pack of disposable nappies, but nothing else, in the boot.

If you and your paramour went on a romantic weekend breakaway you would have enough space, just pack sparingly.

Is it very fast?

No, not super fast. On paper 216km/h and 0 to 100 in 7.6 seconds. But its more about how you get there. It feels fast and sure. It sits on the road, with a light touch. I found my self tootling along at a ton quite happily and enjoying the slow lane quite often. The thing is, if you want push on, you can go for it and enjoy that side of this little devil as well. As TopGear said: “A complete sweetie of a roadster… It dances along difficult roads.

Mazda MX5

Mazda MX5

The suspension is set up for overall driving so may be a little soft for outright cornering performance but I like the compromise. It just soaks up bumps and rough spots. Speed bumps don’t worry it at all.

The MX-5 has very good brakes.

Is it noisy?

TopCar says of the MX-5: “It’s got a decent noise to it, zingy and bubbly all at once, none of that active exhaust or dashboard acoustical nonsense here.” I just say it sounds sporty and growly when it should and otherwise just purrs. Perfect.

What, no turbo?

No turbo. Just the smoothest, willingest 2.0 litre four cylinder petrol engine coupled to a slinky short throw 6-speed gearbox and a brilliant clutch which when coupled to a light body of around a ton gives a stunning power to weight ratio. The power output is 118 Kw @ 6000 rpm and max torque is 200 Nm @ 4600 rpm.

Is there space in the cabin?mazda_mx5_dash

What for? Its got two very comfortable seats, a place for your phone and a small cubby between the seats. Oh, and two cup holders. But beware, an almost empty cup can be sucked out of the holder when at full song.

The interior is smart and practical and appears to be well put together, as with all of today’s Mazdas. The heated seats are great, especially with the top down. The steering wheel is highly adjustable and is a comfortable size. There is not a lot of foot space for the driver but the pedals are well set up even if you want to heel-and-toe.

mazdfa_mx5_roof-foldingThe MX-5 is very well equipped with 203 watt Bose audio system, cruise control, a very good air-conditioner, heated leather seats, 7-inch touchscreen (MZD connect), Bluetooth and heated mirrors.

I just loved the fold away canvas roof which takes about 30 seconds to stow or to raise, using one hand and one locking lever.

What else?

Equipment fitted as standard includes automatic LED headlights, daytime running lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, hill hold and idle stop, limited slip differential, as well as all the normal safety tools. In other words  the car is fully equipped straight out of the box.

mazfa_mx5_roof-up-bum

A word of warning. There is no spare wheel. Instead they give you a full tyre repair kit with a compressor.

Biased?

I got a second opinion from my wife in case you thought I was perhaps too emotional about this little motoring gem.

To say compact or small is a severe understatement, so is the word “cute”.
A midnight trip with the roof down and the seat heater on is Sooo incredibly nice it feels totally illegal, actually each and every trip is a mmm (memory making moment)!
Smooth gearbox, very agile, clinging to the road together with an extremely good brake- and sound system is awesome beyond.
I must admit that being so low scares me a bit when changing lanes and there are big delivery vans and buses to take into account. It cannot be easy to see such a little car in your rear or side mirror. It is also quite a scary feeling that you will not stand a good chance of walking away from an accident unscathed. Aluminium is lightweight etc but it feels a bit flimsy when you stop next to something like an Amarok! Even so…..eye candy with illuminated LED eyeliner, super sexy…I really enjoyed this adorable little funmaker…oh yesss!!!

Housekeeping

Mazda claim a combined fuel consumption of 6.7 litres per 100km, I got 6.9L/100km, including some spirited driving, so as far as sports cars go its amazingly frugal.

The Mazda MX-5 must be one of the best toys you can get yourself. Midlife crisis? Nah. Life in a Miata is just too much fun.

Suggested retail of the MX-5 2.0L Roadster Coupe STP is R441,779. For the moment you only get to choose the colour. Simple.

mazda_mx5_frontish

In the second quarter of 2017 a folding hard top or targa model called the Mazda MX-5 Retractable Fastback, will be launched locally with a choice of automatic or manual gearboxes.

The Mazda MX-5  won the 2016 World Car of the Year award and the World Car Design of the Year, the first time one car has won both awards since the wards were established in 2004.

Price includes a 3-year unlimited km warranty, 3-year service plan, 5-year Corrosion Warranty and 3-year roadside assistance.

There is no real direct competitor to the MX-5 on our roads, but also look at the Toyota 86 (R474 200), Audi TT (R602 000), BMW Z4 (R612 945), BMW 2 220i (R465 554) and VW Golf Cabriolet 1.4 Tsi (R391 800)

Mazda CX-3 2.0L Dynamic automatic review

Mazda CX-3 2.0L Dynamic automatic

Mazda is back in SA in a big way, with overall sales increasing by over 60% year-on-year. Already their compact SUV, the MX-5, is a best seller and now its smaller sister the CX-3 joins the fray. Expect to see a lot of CX-3s on our roads too.

Mazda CX-3

Mazda CX-3

It looks different to its direct competition, the result of what Mazda called ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’. It is more crossover than SUV.

A highlight is the really very good body supporting, comfortable front seats. The best on a car I have tested the last year, at any price.

The interior is well thought out and has all the things you would want, especially the top two trim levels. The command controls for the audio and information system work well and are easy and quick to grasp. With just the right amount of soft and bright trim to make it pleasant and plenty of storage the cabin matches the promise of the outside. Two prams in the boot if you squeeze a bit.

The CX-3 crossover comes in three trim levels, manual or auto and with the excellent Mazda 2.0 skyactive petrol engine.

This gem of a crossover has sport mode which spices things up immediately. A 2,0 litre four cylinder engine has rarely sounded better. And it goes, due to its 115kW and 204Nm of torque; using as little as 6.5 litres of fuel every 100km. I got 6.9 Litres/100km on my usual route, which is very good. But beware the sport button.

MAZDA_CX3_D_rear

Mazda have produced a sublimely smooth six speed dual clutch automatic gearbox which make the paddles almost superfluous. Working with the paddles in sport mode is fun but they are rarely really needed.

This Mazda feels good on the road. Needless to say it has all the safety and roadholding kit expected of a topnotch car.

I got the impression the car is well put together and should give many years of trouble free motoring. After 90 years of making cars Mazda should know a thing or two about making good cars.

For a second opinion about the first of the new Mazdas we have tested I asked my wife for her thoughts.

I really like the clean lines and profile of this car, it looks cheeky, playful and willing.
The doors feel nice and solid when you open and close them. The interior design is smart and straightforward, from the stitched leather look on the dash to the layout of the instrument panel. Everything is exactly where it should be; easy to control or change during your oh-so-smooth ride. The seats are extremely comfortable, the view is pretty good and I love the growl of the really willing engine.
Although a smaller car, the feeling is of space, especially for the driver.

The Mazda CX-3 2.0L Dynamic automatic is R310 700 as listed.

CX-3 prices range from R274 400 to R351 000.

A 3-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty, a 5-year Corrosion Warranty and a 3-year service plan is included.

This segment, the small crossover/ SUV, (or stationwagon to use its old name) is brimming with competition. From the funky to practical. Take a look at the Jeep Renegade and its sibling the FIAT 500X, the best selling Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur and Duster, Opel Mokka and the Nissan Juke.

Mazda BT-50 review

Mazda BT-50

The new BT-50 carries on in the tradition of ‘lekka’ tough, comfortable Mazda bakkies. Although based on the same platform as the Ford Ranger the BT-50 is a very different beast.

People are going to ask: Does the BT-50 have Zoom-Zoom? You betcha. It also has go,go,go. And, it goes well too. Drives and handles like an SUV.

BT-50 program manager Takasuke Kobayashi said of the BT-50:“I wanted to move into uncharted territory. I wanted to create a completely different kind of pick-up – one with the personality of a passenger car. So my team developed innovative, dynamic styling and equipment levels that match high-specification CD-segment cars. We re-engineered the technologies in the powertrain, steering system and frame to deliver the Zoom-Zoom driving pleasure that is Mazda’s greatest brand value.”

The BT-50 looks very different to the Ford Ranger. Brighter and softer. More car-like than the Ranger.

Driving impressions

The BT-50 sits well on the road, any road. It drives like a car. My wife found it very easy to drive, except parallel parking. That is a mission due to the sheer size. It is broader and longer than most cars and all previous generation bakkies except the likes of the Ford 150 and the Cruiser double cab. A similar size to the Amarok and Navarra.

The 3.2 turbo diesel engine fitted to the BT-50 we drove will only be tested if you are towing a big boat, large caravan or heavy trailer. It has oodles of power. The 3.2-litre inline five-cylinder diesel with six-speed automatic transmission pushes out 147kW/470Nm.  I think the 2.2 is more than enough for normal use. Its the one I would buy.The 2.2 litre in-line 4 cylinder 16 valve DOHC intercooled turbo diesel produces a useful 110 kW @ 3,700 rpm and torque of 375 Nm @ 1,500 – 2,500 rpm. More than enough normally.

The short distance I rode on gavel it seemed very settled and stable.

Acceleration, especially in gear, when overtaking for example, is excellent.

Cornering for such a tall relatively heavy vehicle is very good. The brakes on this truck are to be felt to be believed. they are really good. Steering is very good. Light at low speeds and progressively more stiff as the speed increases.

This is a great bakkie to drive. Parking, though, can be an issue.

Interior

The seats are really comfortable and highly adjustable. The driver’ s seat also has adjustable lumbar support.

The cabin has practical finishes and is well designed. It would put most large sedans of ten years ago to shame. It has all the nooks and crannies and storage places you would expect.

All the important controls are within easy reach and work intuitively. Switchgear feels solid. Audio controls are on the lest of the steering wheel, cruise control on the right.

The climate control is very effective.

The radio, CD, MP3 player works well and the speakers sound good. There are aux and USB points in the box between the seats.

The rear window has a brilliant little window.

Weak points

Loading or getting something off the loadbay is quite a mission, simply because she stands so tall. For normal use the loadbay is a little high. It is impractical. The same applies to getting in and out of this truck. It is quite a heave up into the cab.

I do not like the fake chrome trim around the lights, but I am sure many others will like it. Its a little “sudden” for me!

The fiddly little button used to control the ‘computer’ display is totally impractical and bordering on unsafe.

Fuel consumption is a lot better than older generation tricks but it is still stiff. At best I got 10litre per 100km unladen at 120km/h, while the big mill purrs at 2 000rpm. In town it shoots up. My average was 8.9l/100km.

I would have preferred a soft touch finish on a few surfaces. It just feels a little hard.

Summary

This is a bakkie to easily get used to living with in spite of the odd little niggle. Just remember she is big and high and wide.

Cost

The double cab range starts at R340 480 for the BT-50 2.2 (High Power) MZ-CD SLX 6MT 4×2 D/Cab Diesel. The Top of the range BT-50 3.2 MZ-CD SLE 6AT 4×4 D/Cab Diesel costs R462 210.

The vehicle we tested, the BT-50 3.2 MZ-CD SLE 6AT 4×2 D/Cab Diesel costs R414 890.

Air conditioner and slip rear axle is an extra option at R10 870.

Warranty: 4 year/120 000km

Service plan: 5 year/90 000km, 15 000km service intervals