My month with Mazda ZOOM-ZOOM - Part 2

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Getting to know the brand that goes ZOOM-ZOOM - Mazda: a flashback to how it all began (continued from last week's part 1)

Founded in 1920 and named after a god of wisdom - sounds like a great start, doesn’t it?

In the 1960’s Mazda developed the rotary engine in the quest to differentiate from other Japanese motor makers and to this day are the only motor company to continue with this technology. The benefit? Weight saving. The result:quicker and presumably more efficient cars. Citroen, NSU and General Motors dabbled in the engineering and manufacturing of Rotary engines too, but soon gave up.

During the 1970’s Mazda fell out of favour, primarily due to the oil crisis and the fact that their rotary engines though lighter than the competition were not as fuel efficient as traditional engines. Thankfully they had traditional piston engines in the family. These piston engines were placed in smaller compact cars, while the rotary varieties were left for sportier and more expensive Mazda models.

As part of the brand’s quest for unique innovation, in 1989 the brand launched their iconic roadster, the MX-5 - a car which arguably revived the trend for two-seater open-air motoring. This concept was mimicked by BWM with their Z3, Mercedes-Benz with their SLK and Audi in their TT Roadster.

During 1979 and up to 2010, the Mazda brand was influenced by the partner brand, Ford, who began purchasing shares in Mazda throughout that period. In 2008 through to 2010, Ford began gradually divesting its stake in Mazda. Today, Ford holds a meagre 2.1% share in the company.

Mazda today

Standing on its own four wheels so to speak, Mazda has gorgeously penned a new range of vehicles that were designed to set them apart and captivate the eyes of potential customers.


Mazda’s design philosophy, KODO, encompasses the mantra of ‘breathing life into the car’. A car isn’t simply a mass of metal. Mazda believes it’s more like a living creature. Creating an emotional bond between a driver and their car - comparable with the relationship between horse and rider. That’s the ultimate goal of Mazda’s “Soul of Motion” or KODO design philosophy.


As in the past, so to like today, Mazda are walking a unique road in their engine technology, SkyActive. This is a blanket or umbrella term for a variety of technologies used in the current ranges available in South Africa. Together, these technologies increase fuel economy to a level similar to that of a hybrid drivetrain. Engine output is increased and emission levels are reduced. These technologies include high compression ratio gasoline engines (13:1), reduced compression diesel engines (14:1) with new 2-stage turbocharger design, efficient automatic transmissions, lighter weight manual transmissions, lightweight body designs and electric power steering.

The Mazda CX-5

In contrast to the two Mazda3’s, the CX-5 is bigger, bolder and braver in its capabilities. Like the Mazda3 - in Astina guise, the CX-5 2.2DE Akera is the top-of-the-range in the CX-5 lineup. What this means is a borage of sexy mod cons and an AWD (all wheel drive) system. The benefits: its more than a five seater soccer mom’s crossover, instead it’s capable of genuine off-roading, with moderate ‘bundoo’ bashing credentials.

Stylistically, the CX-5 harmoniously caries the KOBO design ethos. Recently face lifted, the CX-5’s are aesthetically pleasing on the eye and stand their ground on the beauty pageant stage. The midlife face lifted CX-5 has been enhanced to be 100% in line with the rest of the Mazda product range. Things like the infotainment system, which is now as the unit in the Mazda6/3/2, new exterior cosmetic enhancements to the lights (both front and rear), grill and bumper combo and new mag’s - all adding to the aesthetic appeal of the car. 


On the road

The CX-5 is driven by a 2.2 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine and joined in matrimony with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. On fire up, it’s a diesel for sure. The engine features the typical diesel vibration, albeit subtle in conjunction with a clatter sound that accompanies all diesel engines, especially 4-cylinder units. Pull off, close the window and sit back in the sport orientated leather covered seats and feel the surge of torque as it pushes your lower back into the lumber portion of the seat. Aha, this engine is powerful. You are able to quickly maneuver the CX-5 away from fellow cars with ease. The gearbox is well suited to the engine, together they are a team - designed to keep your journey economical, efficient, quiet and smooth.

The top-of-the-range vehicle, though a full house in respect to is array of technological toys, is priced at R465 400. It’s a fare chunk of change in anyone’s language. So, alternatively the 2.0 petrol engine in the Mazda3 could be a great option if considering purchasing the CX-5. Thought the CX-5 is heavier than the Mazda3, I believe this engine will offer enough oomph to please most motorist’s needs. The Dynamic model is well spec’d and attractively priced at R330 000 - so therefore my choice in the CX-5 lineup.

The Mazda2

Compact, stylish and tech savvy. The new Mazda2 has been and will continue to be a standout product from the Mazda brand. It is the newest member in the family - being launched this year. The Madza2 is fitted with a spritely 1.5 4-cylinder motor, employing SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, which unlocks quick-witted agility and frugal fuel economy.

This little city hatch is a go-getter - loaded with advanced features like keyless entry, MP3 compatibility, USB-audio input port2 (iPod compatible), keyless pushbutton engine start, Bluetooth® hands free phone and audio capability, 7” full colour touchscreen display (MZD Connect) and headlamps auto on/off function. The range topping Hazumi Auto 1.5L DE also includes: air-conditioning (climate control), half leather seat trim, satellite navigation and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC).


On the road

Little city cars can sometime feel just that - little. That sensation can potentially leave the car’s driver underwhelmed and believing they are less than safe. I’m happy to say this little car doesn’t leave its driver with this impression, instead the converse - it offers big bang for your buck. Sitting confidently on the road and comfortably manoeuvring the city’s challenging roads with aplomb.  The Mazda2 has good levels of road grip and sprightly darts around corners, though it isn’t a sports car - the Mazda MX5 is best left for hairpin cornering escapades. The suspension is such that rough road setups are minimized without the Mazda2 feeling like a marshmallow.

The Madza2 is an accomplished city car - happy to drive through less than perfect road conditions and outpace its competition in a sprint.


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