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MAZDA MX-5 RF The hardtop returns

MAZDA CX-5 Packed with more standard equipment

5 STAR RATING Full Mazda range gets top marks for safety

CONTENTS 4 8 16 26 34 44 52 64 70 76 78 82

News Mazda2 New Mazda3 New Mazda6 First-Ever Mazda CX-3 Mazda CX-5 Brand-New Mazda CX-9 Mazda MX-5 Mazda BT-50 SKYACTIV Technology Accessories Classic Mazda

IGNITION is a half-yearly magazine produced by Mazda Australia that features latest news and accessories information and independent product reviews by some of Australia’s most respected automotive publications.




Introducing the All-New Mazda MX-5 RF


n 2016, Mazda launched the Brand-New Mazda CX-9 and stylish updates to the Mazda3 and Mazda6. The next cab off the rank is the All-New Mazda MX-5 RF. Meaning Retractable Fastback, the RF went into full production in early October, with sales beginning in Australia this summer. The MX-5 RF fully embodies the Jinba-Ittai philosophy of the driver and car in harmony that


has defined the MX-5 throughout its 27-year history. Featuring fastback styling with a smooth roofline that slopes down to the rear end, and a unique rear roof and retractable back window that offer a new open-air feeling, the power roof can be opened or closed at speeds of up to 10 km/h with the press of a button, and the roof is stowed compactly and efficiently. In Australia, the model will feature

the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 litre petrol engine in two grades. Highly acclaimed, and boasting over 280 automotive awards from around the world, the fourthgeneration Mazda MX-5 was named the 2016 World Car of the Year, World Car Design of the Year and Wheels Car of The Year. Visit your local Mazda Dealership, or go to for more details, including pricing.

Mazda commits to women’s cricket


azda has signed on as Principal Sponsor of Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) team, the Sydney Thunder, making it the first sponsor in Australia to back a men’s and women’s T20 team. Principal Sponsor of the men’s Big Bash League (BBL) team since 2014, the Sydney Thunder won BBL5 when it defeated the Melbourne Stars at the MCG last January. That same day, the Thunder’s women’s team won the inaugural WBBL series, beating Sydney rivals the Sixers by three wickets. It was the first time a single BBL franchise had won both the men’s and women’s competition in the same season. With the women’s team’s top tier sponsorship available, Mazda jumped at the opportunity to expand its cricket interests and make BBL sponsorship history at the same time.

“Mazda is extremely proud to be the first corporate in Australia to sponsor both a men’s and women’s Big Bash League team,” said Mazda Australia’s NSW state manager Daniel Morris. “Interest in women’s cricket has never been higher thanks to the success of last year’s WBBL season – one that attracted great crowds at ground and a very strong television audience. “As Principal Sponsor of the Sydney Thunder women’s team, we look forward to adding to this interest by promoting the team, and women’s cricket, via a range of marketing activations within the community. “Big Bash Cricket is arguably the most entertaining sport in the country, and as reigning champion in both competitions, we – like all Sydney Thunder fans – look forward to another big T20 season.”


Mazda’s 5 star range


or the first time, every vehicle in the Mazda range has been awarded the highest 5 star ANCAP safety rating. On July 4, Brand-New Mazda CX-9 was awarded 5 stars, joining All-New Mazda MX-5 as first-time ANCAP 5 star recipients. This followed the FirstEver Mazda CX-3 and Mazda2 which earned the prestigious safety rating in September last year. Tested by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), the Brand-New Mazda CX-9 was awarded an overall score of 35.87 points out of 37 to give it a maximum 5 stars. Like the recent results for All-New Mazda MX-5, the second-generation Mazda CX-9 received perfect marks for both the side and pole tests, while the seven-seat SUV’s whiplash and pedestrian protection were described as good – the best result issued by ANCAP.

Insurance assured


azda Australia has recently introduced a new suite of products to the Mazda stable, Mazda Insurance. This fully branded Mazda offering is available to all customers wanting the ultimate protection for their Mazda. The product suite includes Prestige Motor Vehicle Insurance, Motor Equity Insurance, Loan Protection Insurance, Business Loan Protection Insurance and Tyre and Rim Insurance. Mazda Insurance provides a number of benefits to Mazda

At your service


ow Mazda presents its servicing information has gone through significant change thanks to the inclusion of a new public service price calculator and service schedule guide. As a Mazda owner, to find out how much your next service will cost, all you have to do is go


customers, including the guaranteed use of Genuine Mazda Parts, sourced from the Australia Mazda dealer network, for all vehicle repairs. The introduction of this product is the result of a partnership with Allianz Insurance and is available at all participating Mazda dealers nationally.

to the Mazda Australia website, click on the ‘model name’ of your car, then ‘servicing’. You’ll see a highlighted link asking for your VIN or registration number that will result in all of your details appearing on screen. This easy-to-follow process will help determine the cost of your next service, with the final price honoured by any Mazda Dealer nationally.

NEWS Mazda CX-5 packs in more standard safety

A Highly recommended


azda’s light, small and medium passenger car range, and its small and large SUV offerings have been recognised as some of Australia’s best vehicle buys, in the fifth annual ‘Recommends’ awards. For the third consecutive year, Mazda3 and Mazda6 have been judged as top choices in the popular Family car under $30,000 and Family Car over $30,000 segments, while Mazda2 is a best City Car option for the first time, having been a leading First Car alternative twice over the last three years. Joining Mazda2 as a best City Car is Mazda CX-3, which makes the shortlist for the second year in a row. Making its debut on the highly regarded ‘Recommends’

list is Brand-New Mazda CX-9. Considered one of the nation’s best SUVs under $50K, Mazda CX-9 has been a top seller since arriving in showrooms in mid-July. ‘Recommends’ is designed to not only reward excellence but also to be an easily recognised tool to assist buyers with their new car search.’s team considers a wide range of attributes in making choices for each of the categories including: performance; refinement; handling; suitability for purpose and value for money. Resale, reliability and factors such as warranty and the availability of fixed-price servicing are also noted. Mazda’s five awards back up the eight trophies that it received last year.

ustralia’s most popular SUV, the Mazda CX-5, now has even more standard i-ACTIVSENSE safety equipment. Offered previously as an optional extra, the entry-grade Maxx and core model Maxx Sport now come with Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Smart City Brake Support-Forward (SCBS-F) and a Rear-view mirror with an auto dimming function as standard equipment. In addition, the high grade GT alternative now includes BSM and RCTA, but adds Smart City Brake Support – Forward/Reverse (SCBS-F/R). When Mazda’s Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system detects any unseen vehicles, an LED icon appears on the driver’s side mirror accompanied by a warning beeper. Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) assists the driver in recognising approaching cars when reversing from parking spaces, while Smart City Brake Support Forward/Reverse (SCBS F/R) helps prevent low speed accidents. This system applies pressure to the brakes when it senses a high risk of impact. The safety updates join the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), Traction Control System (TCS), five SRS Airbags and reverse camera, in making the Mazda CX-5 one of the safest SUVs available on the market.


REVIEW 27 APR 2016















loody hell we write a lot of stories about Mazdas at I dunno if we could possibly come up with another angle on the future of MPS or the return of the rotary engine, but hey, we will keep trying. And here's another common theme; we've road tested a new model Mazda and guess what? It's good. In this case it's the Mazda2 Maxx sedan, the three-box version of the latest generation mini-car that graced these shores as a hatchback in 2014. This thing is so good it's undoubtedly among the best minis on offer in Australia these days. It is easily the best sedan in its class and – like the 2 hatch – a true rival for the likes of the Volkswagen Polo, Skoda Fabia and Renault Clio (none of which come as sedans). The 2 Maxx sedan looks good, feels

good, drives good and doesn't suck much fuel. And that's good too. But back to the basics. The Maxx is the upper-spec of two you can get in the 2 sedan, as there is no Genki. The starter is the Neo at $14,990 (plus ORCs), with the Maxx coming in at $17,690 (plus ORCs). Both are powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder SKYACTIV-G engines that drive the font wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. The optional six-speed auto is an extra $2000. Features fitted as standard to all Mazda2 sedans include electric windows and mirrors, air-conditioning, cruise control, trip computer, MP3-compatible audio with CD, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, multi-function steering wheel, keyless start and (acoustic) rear parking sensors.

The Maxx alone gets 15-inch alloy wheels, unique seat upholstery (fabric), leather-trimmed gear knob, handbrake lever and steering wheel rim, 7.0-inch infotainment screen, six-speaker audio with internet integration (Pandora, Stitcher, Aha) and a reversing camera. The spare tyre is a space saver. Smart City auto braking (AEB) is optional. It's worth noting the Maxx comes with a 'high-spec' engine that courtesy of a number of modifications including a higher compression ratio and 4-2-1 exhaust (versus 4-1) boosts power by 2kW to 81 and torque by 2Nm to 141. The high-spec version also gets a fuel saving idle-stop system, which works unobtrusively by the standard of such things and helps drop fuel consumption as low as a claimed 4.9L/100km when mated with the auto. As a manual – which is how we tested the Mazda2 – the claimed fuel consumption rate was 5.2L. OK, all very impressive in theory, but this is where it starts to impress in reality. Our week-long average over a significant variety

of driving conditions came out at just 5.4L/100km. That's on 91 RON unleaded. So with a 44-litre fuel tank that's a range close to 800km. At current 91 RON ULP costs, and working on around 15,000km travel per annum, you may not have to refuel this thing for weeks at a time. Now that's impressive. But what really adds another layer to all this is the Maxx doesn't drive

like a fuel miser – as the Honda Civic road-tested a few weeks ago did. The free-spinning DOHC engine with its 6500rpm redline is light and zesty, happily zotting up and down the range, supported beautifully by the clean-shifting manual gearbox. Look, it's not going to leap tall buildings in a torque-laden bound – a low-blow turbo would ensure it could do that (Mazda turbo? Now there's another story staple) – but at least

2016 MAZDA MAZDA2 MAXX (SEDAN) PRICING AND SPECIFICATIONS: PRICE $17,690 (plus on-road costs) ENGINE 1.5-litre petrol four-cylinder OUTPUT 81kW/141Nm TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual FUEL 5.2L/100km (ADR combined) CO2 121g/km (ADR combined) SAFETY RATING Five-star (ANCAP)



flipping back through the box to tackle a steep climb is neatly done. In the week with the Maxx, I only wrong-slotted once. The enthusiasm of the drivetrain is matched by the sharpness of the light, responsive and evenly weighted steering and the sure handling, all aided by a typical Mazda suspension set-up that some people may find sterner on bumps than to their liking. But the overall body control and ability of the car to respond to inputs not only makes it more enjoyable but also more helpful in an emergency 'swerve and recover' situation than its less dynamic rivals. In the challenging environs of the shopping centre carpark the small 9.8m turning circle is a boon. But the lack of front parking sensors and the rising rear window line – which kids won't like either – are not. Both engine response and dynamic crispness are aided by the car's light weight. The Maxx manual weighs in at just 1045kg (kerb), which undercuts lesser rivals like the Honda City and Hyundai Accent. Much of what you have read here could be interchangeable between


the 2 sedan and hatch, but one area where the three-box design steps ahead is cabin quietness. Noise suppression has never been a Mazda strength and, although it's hardly the issue it once was, the three-box sedan still blocks out noise from the rear-end better than the hatch. So what do you give up in return? Okay, there's a flexibility loss just because it's easier to throw bigger stuff into a hatch than a sedan boot. But the Maxx's boot claims a total 440 litres of storage compared to

the hatch's 250. All that is generated by a 260mm longer body. The rear seats do fold down – albeit not fully flat – via cable releases in the boot to provide enough room to carry a large mountain bike with the front wheel removed. Moving forward to the driver's seat there's an instrument panel – that looks like the bisected fuselage of a monoplane – dominated by a central speedo, with supplementary digital tacho. At the top of the centre stack is an

iPad-style 7.0-inch screen which is controlled by a combination of touch buttons and the MZD Connect dial in the centre console. Functions accessed here include communications, entertainment and navigation (if optioned). Mostly, it works well although I did find fiddling around looking for radio presets a chore. Reflections also made the screen hard to read occasionally. The steering wheel is reach and rake adjustable, there's a sizeable left footrest and a large seat. In fact, the seat is a good example of the way Mazda has spent money wisely around the cabin. It's full-

sized, comfortable and comes with substantial wings for support. Yep, feel around and you'll find hard plastics on the dash-top and below the eyeline. There are also no soft linings in bins and pockets, but if you are going to prioritise a limited spend, then would you rather have a comfortable seat, a lid on a bin or a damped glovebox opening? Mind you, as is the Mazda way the economising goes too far in the back seat. There are no door pockets or adjustable rear air-con vents. But there are three adjustable headrests and three lap-sash seatbelts. Access to the rear seat is via small but wide

opening doors. A 1.8m adult sitting behind similar will grind their knees into the front-seat. You sit upright, but headroom is reasonable. So from headroom to the bottom-line; and it's a pretty simple summation. The Mazda2 Maxx is more than enough car for most people. It is spacious for its size both in the cabin and in the boot. It is incredibly thrifty yet also enjoyable to drive. There is no better sedan in this category than the Mazda2. In fact, it's debatable whether there's any better car in this category at all. It's that good.

ROAD TEST Mazda occupies a unique place for the brand in Australia. It's a significant sales player in a major market. Pat yourself on the back Australian new car buyers for your world-leading good sense. In a car-building world where near enough is often good enough (dieselgate anyone, Takata airbags anyone, Jeep Grand Cherokee anyone?), the small Japanese manufacturer continues to set the high water mark for engineering quality and design at an affordable price. So having said all that do you think we liked the new Mazda2 Maxx sedan. Damn right we did.


REVIEW 24 JUL 2016


W WHAT WE LIKE Stylish design Fun to drive High quality feel WHAT WE DON’T Smaller boot than most rivals Large tacho


hy do TV ads for tiny cars always have happy, fashionable young people in them on their way to a festival or doing something else equally amazing and spontaneous like writing their names with sparklers? They never show a group of 70-yearolds going out to dinner and a show. Everybody knows that cars like the Mazda2 hatch are a favourite for those people at the start of their driving lives and those who are… um, more experienced. Mazda's own data backs that up: 15 per cent of Mazda2's are bought by people under 25 years old and 16 per cent

are sold to 55-65 year olds. It makes sense, neither age groups tends to have a young family in tow and so they don’t need a sprog hauler, just something easy to park and get around in. That also covers a helluva lot of other folks, too. And a lot of folks buy the Mazda2 – more people bought it in 2015 than those who took home a Toyota Yaris, Honda Jazz, or Suzuki Swift. So with everybody in mind from Millennials to Boomers and Gen-xers in between this review of Mazda’s smallest and most affordable hatch with the six-speed manual in the topof-the-range Genki grade is for you.

SPECIFICATIONS PRICE From $20,690 FUEL CONSUMPTION 4.9L/100km (combined), 121g/km CO2 Tank 44L SAFETY 5-star ANCAP SEATS 5 WARRANTY 3 years/100,000km SERVICE INTERVAL 12 months/10,000km

DESIGN It’s taken years but Mazda’s entire range of cars all have the same family face and athletic lines – the long, broad nose and the feline eyes to go with the cat-about-topounce stance. The big CX-9 SUV was the last of the lot to get the new look and the Mazda2 hatch was the just fourth in line to receive the treatment when this new generation arrived in 2014. The result is that Mazda’s most affordable car looks as beautifully designed as its most expensive. Not all people who buy a little car are doing so because it’s all the budget can stretch to, they just want a little car and Mazda’s well-crafted Mazda2 means they don’t then have to settle on something which looks cheap. If you are getting it because it’s what you can afford, then you’re getting more than just value for money.

That quality feel doesn’t suddenly dissolve like when you get to your room at a hotel which looked posh when you were standing in foyer but now standing in the doorway looks like a toilet in a park. The cabin, especially in the Genki spec, is more refined than any of its rivals. It’s a stylish cockpit from the stitched dashboard to the leather steering wheel. The Mazda2 hatch is 130mm longer than the Yaris at 4060mm but has exactly the same 1695mm width. It’s longer than the Jazz by about 65mm but the same width again. The Swift is shortest coming in 210mm less than the Mazda 2, and you guessed it the same width. Compared to the Mazda3, which is in the size category above it, the Mazda2 is only 400mm shorter – a shoebox’s length. So it’s not actually that little, but the length is all in the nose. It is a nose on wheels.

ENGINE 1.496L 4-cyl unleaded, 81kW/141Nm TRANSMISSION Manual, FWD MANUAL, FWD 9.4m diameter DIMENSIONS 4060mm (L), 1695mm (W), 1495mm (H)



PRACTICALITY Is the Mazda2 practical? Yes and no. Yes in that it doesn’t take up much room on the outside, but no in that there’s not a lot of room on the inside. Front passengers have plenty of space, while those sitting in the back wouldn’t want to be behind me – at 191cm I can’t fit my tentacles in when the driver’s seat is in my position and headroom is limited too. The Yaris has even less legroom back there, but a thumb’s width more headroom. The Jazz matches the Yaris for headroom but has more room for legs than both. If you have kids be aware that the Mazda2’s small and high-placed rear windows mean they’ll be staring at the door most of the way: “I spy with my little eye something beginning with D." Older people be aware that the rear doors are small and over the wheel arch and this makes getting in and out for those less agile a pain in the hip. The evidence is mounting that this is more for young people. Boot size is on the small side at 250 litres (VDA), sure it’s 40 litres bigger than the Swift, but it’s 46


litres smaller than the Yaris and 100 litres less than the Jazz. Back seat dwellers won’t find any bottle holders or cupholders within reach. But up front there’s two cupholders and room for large bottles in the doors. PRICE AND FEATURES The Mazda2 hatch in the Genki specification costs $20,690. That’s for the six-speed manual. A six-speed automatic transmission is $2000 more. There's a sedan version of the Mazda2, too, prices are the same as the hatch but it only comes in Neo and Maxx grades. It’s top-spec rivals are in the same ball park with the Yaris ZR costing $21,490, the Honda Jazz VTi-S $19,790 and the Swift GLX SE $21,290. The Mazda2 range starts at $14,990. So what do you get for paying six more grand? A seveninch touchscreen with Mazda’s MZD media system, reversing camera, sat nav, rear parking sensors, head-up display, LED headlights and DRLs,

16-inch alloys and pretty bits like chrome exhaust tips and body coloured grille elements. Keep in mind that the camera, sensors and LED headlights did not come standard on the Genki before August 2015. Thanks to that much-needed addition of equipment the Mazda2 is better value for money. There’s a choice of eight colours, from Dynamic Blue Mica and Smoky Rose to Soul Red which costs $200 and Snow Flake White Pearl Mica. ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION All Mazda2s have 1.5-litre fourcylinder petrol engines but the Genki’s is more powerful than the base-spec Neo’s with 81kW of power and 141Nm of torque. You’ll appreciate the extra oomph, it’s not a huge difference, but just feels more like your Mazda2 has had its morning coffee. Our test car has the six-speed manual, which suits the size and ‘zippy’ nature of the hatch. As

mentioned earlier there’s an auto too for those not practised in the art of manual. FUEL CONSUMPTION With the six-speed manual Mazda2 says you should get going through an average of 5.2L/100km. My driving style made our test car thirsty and it drank at 8.6L/100km even with the idle stop system switched on. It runs happily on the cheapest 91RON, petrol, too. DRIVING The driving position is excellent, the hip-point in the seat is low, the pedals are well positioned, the steering wheel feel is great. The ride is firmish but not hard, and the suspension set-up absorbs speedbumps and dips well. I’m not in love with the shifting feel of the six-speed manual in this car – it’s a bit clunky. Owners though will get used to it and overtime as the mechanicals wear in it may even become smoother as I’ve experience with cars in the past.

The clutch though is light and there’s good feel in the brake and accelerator pedals. The Mazda2 lived with me in the city for a week. Little laneways, stupidly small car spaces, threading through peak-hour traffic – it was all pretty much stress-free in a car that seems to have been purposebuilt for this type of environment. Even on longer trips beyond the city limits it didn’t feel tiny or uncomfortable to sit on. Taking off on slopes is made a stack easier with Hill Launch Assist, too. The giant tacho is over the top, and there is no analogue speedo – but there is a digital one which is even more useful. SAFETY The Mazda2 hatch has a five-star ANCAP test rating. There’s front and side airbags for the first row and curtains airbags extend to cover the second row. If you want AEB you’ll need to buy the Smart City Brake Support option for $400.

For child seats there's two top tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts – they're on the window seats in the back. OWNERSHIP The Mazda2 has a three-year/ unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is needed every 10,000km and is capped at $1454 over five years – not including additional maintenance items such as brake fluid, air filters, transmission oil and spark plugs.

VERDICT Mazda is at the top of its game at the moment – the entire line-up doesn’t have a weak point and even their most affordable car is still a high quality offering, that’s stylish, fun and easy to drive.


REVIEW 29 JUL 2016




he current-generation Mazda 3 hatch and sedan range has received its most substantial update since launching in January 2014. The revised version of Australia’s fourth-most popular new vehicle is safer, more dynamic and better value than before. Despite a challenging small car market, battling to stay even in the face of the medium SUV sales boom, the Mazda 3 remains the company’s most popular and important car in Australia, given the fact it owns close


to 20 per cent market share in the small car class, though it now trails both the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30 in sales. We attended the Australian launch this week in Brisbane, for a quick drive. The update to the third-generation Mazda 3 could hardly be called a facelift. Cosmetic changes are limited to a new nose design, led by a bolder new grille, and some different wheels. Higher-grade versions also get LED headlights (30 per cent brighter than halogens) with daytime running lights, and there are new grey and blue metallic colour choices. Changes inside the cabin are moderately more substantial. There’s a new steering wheel that looks the bee’s knees, simplified instruments (low-grade versions still miss out on a digital speedo), and USB points moved to an easier-to-situate location in the centre stack instead

of the console, thanks to the removal of the CD player. All versions bar the base Neo get a revised tablet screen with Mazda’s benchmark (in this class) MZD Connect rotary dial system and sat-nav, plus the welcome addition of digital radio. Top-spec GT and Astina versions get a better, colour heads-up display too. Unfortunately, the base Neo — which remains a top-selling offering in the range despite the proliferation of private, rather than fleet, buyers — retains an old hat non-touchscreen interface with no reversing camera. It’s outgunned at the bottom end, and though you can shell out $650 to get a camera in the rear-view mirror as an option, we suggest stepping up to the Maxx. If we were cynical, we’d suggest Mazda Australia doesn’t really want to sell Neos… As you can read in our pricing and

specifications story, prices on all bar the $20,490 (plus on-road costs) Neo variant have climbed slightly, but the value has improved by up to $1550, if you believe Mazda Australia’s claim. Pricing for both body-styles climbs to $22,890 for the Maxx, $25,290 for the Touring, $25,690 for the more powerful but less well-equipped SP25, $29,990 for the SP25 GT and $33,490 for the SP25 Astina. All versions come with an auto transmission for $2000 more. The walk between variants is pretty reasonable. Mazda expects the Maxx to account for 40 per cent of sales, the Neo 30 per cent, the SP25 to make up 15 per cent, the Touring and SP25 both 10 per cent, and the Astina 5 per cent. Every single Mazda 3 now gets

autonomous emergency braking (AEB) at low speeds, while the second-from-base Maxx upwards get AEB in reverse, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Higher up the range you can get traffic sign recognition and radar cruise control, putting the Mazda at the pointy end for active safety. Essentially, features that were once part of options packs are now standard. Only the Skoda Octavia could rightly claim to offer a competitive active safety package at the Mazda’s price point, something for which the Japanese company must be commended. Other cabin changes are limited to smaller details such as a new electric park brake on higher-end versions that allows the fitment of a nifty new

set of cupholders with sliding cover, and the option of white leather on the GT and Astina. Good luck keeping that clean. Mazda makes a good cabin, and the 3 remains one of the more cohesive and classy offerings out there, with the exception of the sparse Neo. Everything is well-made and appealing in a tactile sense, and offers an experience on a par with pricier cars. Where the Mazda 3 has never been a leader is in practicality and space, the new one has more storage options (including superior door pockets). It remains one of the smaller cars in its class, and the back seats remains relatively tight next to the new Honda Civic, but two adults can sit in comfort. Cargo space CARADVICE RATING 8 / 10 PERFORMANCE & ECONOMY












Extra safety equipment; a number of small but worthy cabin improvements; G-Vectoring system seems to work; remains one of the most fun small cars to drive Neo still lacks a reversing camera and touchscreen; NVH levels lowered, but could be better; small price increases understandable, but they’re still increases

remains a relatively tight 308L on the hatch and 408L on the sedan, both with temporary spare wheels. Things are quite different under the skin, though. Mazda’s G-Vectoring system makes its premiere here. This sensor-based system adjusts torque delivery to the front wheels in response to steering inputs, increasing load on the front tyre. In other words, it’s like lifting off the throttle to transfer the car’s weight. The response can be greater straight-line stability on slippery surfaces, with fewer minute wheel adjustments necessary, plus greater mid-corner stability. We did back-toback slalom tests and found the new


system made the car much neater. Additionally, a high-speed sharp right-hander downhill in the new car yielded less tyre squeal than the old car. Is the difference marked? No, it isn’t. But it’s a small and worthy change that complements the Mazda’s already balanced chassis, sharp and accurate steering, and generally good compromise between dynamism and comfort. Firm, but not uncomfortable. Mazda has also changed the front and rear dampers and bushings, as well as the rear cross-member and trailing link, and added sounddeadening materials to improve a

glaring weak point — noise, vibration and harshness levels (NVH). That said, over coarse-chip surfaces, the Mazda 3 is still not the last word in refinement, with tyre roar entering the cabin to a greater degree than some rivals. When we get one for a longer time than our quick launch drive this week allowed, we will do decibel tests. There are no changes to the engines. The Neo, Maxx and Touring get the 114kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4000rpm 2.0-litre four, and the SP25, SP25GT and SP25GT Astina get the 138kW at 5700rpm and 250Nm at 3250rpm 2.5-litre four.

The 2.2-litre diesel engine option has been axed on account of slow sales. Both engines, from Mazda’s high-compression SkyActiv family, perform strongest at higher engine speeds, with good response above 3000rpm. Neither engine is overly refined or strong at the bottom end, though. The 2.0-litre is perfectly fine for urban commuting, but you can stretch the car’s outstanding dynamics better with the bigger unit. Hopefully the CX-9’s 2.5 turbo wth 170kW-plus joins at some point… The car could handle it easily, especially with a tricky diff allocating torque between the front wheels.

Most buyers opt for the six-speed automatic, but all come with a sixspeed manual too. The automatic with paddles on sporty versions now comes with the sport button from the Mazda 2 and others, which program the gearbox to hold low ratios longer and kick down more aggressively ahead of corners. It works brilliantly. All told, the revised Mazda 3 isn’t any sort of quantum leap, but the outgoing iteration was pretty good already. With the new-generation Hyundai i30 and Holden Astra on the horizon, the competition won’t get any easier, but the Mazda’s place among the best is assured. It’s still a fantastic little car to drive, be it in city commuting or on a twisting forest road, and the extra safety equipment across the range is well worth the small price hike. There’s a reason why the stylish and fun Mazda remains the privatebuyer’s choice in a fleet-heavy segment. There’s now even more reason to buy one. Our choice? The SP25. You get MZD Connect, most of the key active safety tech, and the superior 2.5-litre engine. Can’t go wrong.


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Northern Territory News, Darwin

Take a quiet corner TAKE A QUIET CORNER

MAZDA3 SP25 ASTINA chief Alastair Doak. “We took a similar approach with the Mazda6 at the beginning of the year, embedding the safety as standard.” Unfortunately, despite the rhetoric, Mazda has left a reversing camera off the cheapest model. The diesel Mazda3 has been dropped from the range, which means the line-up includes sedan and hatchback bodies with two engines — 2.0 and 2.5-litre petrol fours — and six trim levels from Neo to SP25 Astina. Pricing is from $20,490 for a manual Neo through to $34,490 for the automatic SP25 Astina.

ON THE ROAD In the past, the Mazda3 has generated its sporty driving response with taut suspension and aggressive chassis settings. as enjoyable to drive All models alsobut getis new technology is digital radio in all variants, ItThere was good for keen drivers, smoother, and quieter calledgentler G-Vectoring Control, which for places where it works. but not for people who like a uses engine torque to improve “The update is about safety in all conditions. little more relaxation in their balance in cornering. and technology, with some small Mazda bangs on about Thesafety resultand is a car that is exterior changes,” driving andcosmetic a quieter cabin. says improved holding just line as enjoyable to drive— but is Mazda marketing chief We’ve hadAustralia a lot of complaints the price from $20,490 and value quieter Alastair Doak. “We took a similar recently from Mazda3 owners whichsmoother, means angentler effective PAUL GOVER PAUL GOVER in all conditions. approach with the Mazda6 at the Chief Reporter who are unhappy about road boost up to $1550 — but it’s the CHIEF REPORTER paul.gover@carsguide. Mazda bangs on about improved noise, beginning of the year, embedding particularly at the rear. drive time that unwraps the real safety and holding the price line from The the safety standard.” fresh as approach for 2016 improvements in one of $20,490 — which means an effective Unfortunately, despite the rhetoric, TWO weeks of local testing has brings a car that’s just as much Australia’s favourite cars. value boost up to $1550 — but it’s has left a reversing camera off worked wonders on the funMazda in corners but more Even so, it’s good to see the the drive time that unwraps the real the cheapest model. updated Mazda3. compliant in the ride and likes ofimprovements speed-sign recognition, in one of Australia’s The diesel Mazda3 has been There are only tiny visual noticeably quieter inside. wo weeks of local testing cabin updates favourite with cars. a new wheel dropped from the range, which tweaks on the 2016 model but It’s not as go-kart sharp as it and has worked wonders on the similar to Even it’s good see the likes means the line-up includes sedan theso, MX-5 and to extra the dampers and suspension washatchback but it’s just as quick updated Mazda3. speed-sign recognition, cabin bodies with and two engines safety of tech including auto mounts There among other things easier to hustle down a twisty are only tiny visual tweaks updates with a new wheel similar — 2.0 and 2.5-litre petrol fours — and emergency braking and laneshow the benefit on-road road and there isfrom none of to theSP25 on the 2016 of model but the dampers to the MX-5 and extra safety tech six trim levels Neo keeping assistance on the testingand in Australia. suspension mounts among other including auto emergency braking skipping Astina.and Pricing is from $20,490 thumping that I for a models. Allthings models alsothe getbenefit new of on-roadhigher-end show and lane-keeping assistance on the remember manual Neo through to $34,490 as characteristic of for There is digital radio in all technology G-Vectoring testingcalled in Australia. higher-end models. the automatic SP25 Astina. the earlier car. variants, for places where it Control, which uses engine It’s at least partly down to the works. torque to improve balance in test and development work “The update is about safety cornering. done in Australia last year and and technology, with some small 20 definitely attributable to the The result is a car that is just exterior cosmetic changes,” says vectoring tech. Mazda Australia marketing

SUBTLE CHANGESto TOthe THE POPULAR MAZDA Subtle changes popular BRING A MORE RELAXED RIDE Mazda bring a more relaxed ride


ON THE ROAD In the past, the Mazda3 has generated its sporty driving response with taut suspension and aggressive chassis settings. It was good for keen drivers, but not for people who like a little more relaxation in their driving and a quieter cabin. We’ve had a lot of complaints recently from Mazda3 owners who are unhappy about road noise, particularly at the rear. The fresh approach for 2016 brings a car that’s just as much fun in corners but more compliant in the ride and noticeably quieter inside. It’s not as go-kart sharp as it was but it’s just as quick and easier to hustle down a twisty road and there is none of the skipping and thumping that I remember as characteristic of the earlier car. It’s at least partly down to the test and development work done in Australia last year and definitely attributable to the vectoring tech. It uses engine torque to settle the chassis and stiffen the suspension at the right end and right side for optimum grip and balance. My drive time is focused on the

SP25 Astina, which allows me the maximum exposure to the update efforts. It carries over the smooth 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine. Cabin accommodation and boot size are pleasingly familiar but there are lots of other little improvements. There is, happily, no need to try the auto safety braking but the traffic sign recognition works well, the coloured head-up display is handy and the radar cruise control is superior to some I have tried. The new steering wheel is pleasing and — for a little while in Brisbane — the digital radio reception is good. However, the lane-keeping assist is overly eager all the time, pushing me away from white lines on every road. I would consider leaving it switched off, except on trips where fatigue might be a factor. I keep coming back to the driving enjoyment and the quieter cabin. It’s impossible to measure without instruments but subjectively it is a more pleasant place, particularly on the coarse-chip bitumen roads that have generated the bass drumming in the back that annoys many Mazda3 owners.

WHAT’S NEW PRICE The bottom line is still the same, from $20,490, with what Mazda claims is $1550 in added value. EQUIPMENT Lots of additional safety gear across the range, even an electric parking brake and new steering wheel. PERFORMANCE Diesel engine is gone. Vectoring control is claimed to deliver better chassis control and a smoother, quieter ride. DRIVING Still a Mazda3 but more compliant in all conditions, also quieter Same enjoyment with less stress. DESIGN Barely changed with work limited to tweaking of the nose, new alloys, some trim and steering wheel. AT A GLANCE MAZDA3 SP25 ASTINA PRICE $35,490 (Neo from $20,490) WARRANTY 3 years/unlimited km CAPPED SERVICING $1367 for 3 years SERVICE INTERVAL 12 months/10,000km SAFETY 5 stars ENGINE 2.5-litre 4-cyl, 138kW/250Nm TRANSMISSION 6-speed auto; FWD THIRST 6.0L/100km DIMENSIONS 4470mm (L), 1795mm (W), 1465mm (H), 2700mm (WB) WEIGHT 1336kg (Neo from 1258kg) SPARE Space-saver TOWING 1200kg 0-100KM/H 7.8 secs


REVIEW 31 AUG 2016 West Australian, Perth



ou’ve decided to buy a certain car and that’s that; but which do you go for? For our first range comparison, we’ve got all six Mazda3 variants here — so let’s find the sweet spot. We’ve opted specifically for the hatchback and six-speed automatic versions of each since they make up the most Mazda3 sales. The three on the left in the above


picture are the more affordable models, with a 114kW/200Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, while the three on the right have the more powerful 2.5-litre engine (138kW/250Nm). Here’s what the cars have got (or are missing). NEO, $22,490 Three key features: 16-inch alloys; Bluetooth with audio streaming; forward collision alert with low-speed autonomous emergency braking It wasn’t long ago when no cars in this class had autonomous emergency braking as standard; now, the entire Mazda3 range has it. It’s designed to stop you rear-ending

cars when you’re distracted. The alloy wheels, which not every entry-level small car gets, also add some appeal. There’s no sexy colour media screen, meaning you miss out on the excellent MZD Connect media interface. You don’t get a rear-view camera either (it’s a$650 option) but rear parking sensors are standard. You get cloth trim and a plastic steering wheel and shifter, so it looks and feels like a base model. As with all Mazda3s, rear seat space is on the tight side and fitting three adults across the back is a squeeze. At 308 litres, the hatch’s boot is smaller than most rivals, too.

MAXX, $24,890 Three key features: 7.0-inch media screen with MZD Connect and satellite navigation; rear-view camera; driver assist safety systems The only difference on the outside is LED fog lights but the inside counts with the Maxx because there’s a bunch of extra safety kit. Big items include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, while its autonomous emergency braking will also work when reversing (made even better by this model’s rear-view camera). The nice dash-top screen is controlled both by touch and by the rotary dial controller. It has DAB digital radio, too. There’s still cloth seat trim but there are nice touches elsewhere such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, and it also scores paddle-shifters and an autodimming rear mirror.

So you get quite a lot more for $2400. TOURING, $27,290 Three key features: Auto headlights and wipers; leather seat trim; dualzone climate control. Again, there’s not much to visually differentiate this Touring model from those below it but you do get auto-folding side mirrors and auto headlights and wipers. For your $2400 premium over the Maxx, the Touring brings some comfort and convenience items such as leather seat trim, dual-zone climate control and a space-saving electric park brake. The driver also gets lumbar adjustment and both seats come with illuminated vanity mirrors and a sunglasses holster. There are no drivetrain or chassis differences between these three, only a 12kg weight variance (1296kg-

1308kg) because of equipment inclusions. What you notice on the road is the suspension and steering has been made softer to make the 3 a little easier to live with. It rides decently, the steering is pretty quick and it holds a nice line through corners. Mazda doesn’t have the best reputation for quiet cars and this isn’t exactly serene, despite the brand claiming it did work in that area with the latest face lift. There’s plenty of engine noise and road noise is pretty evident too, particularly on coarse-chip roads. The 2.0-litre engine is smooth enough but it’s not the gruntiest thing, particularly when you’re tootling about town under light throttle. The gearbox is good, shifting quickly despite a tendency to always go for the highest gear possible to help save fuel. Speaking of which, the 2.0-litre OUR PICK OF THE RANGE MAZDA3 SP25 We found the sweet spot of the Mazda3 range is the fourth variant up: the SP25. With its attractive pricing, strong 2.5-litre engine and plenty of equipment and safety aides, we rate the SP25 the highest. If you can’t stretch the budget, our second choice would be the Maxx.



Mazda 3 range claims usage between 5.7 and 5.9L/100km — just a touch below the bigger 2.5-litre engine’s claims (6.0-6.5L/100km). SP25, $27,690 Three key features: 18-inch alloys; bigger, more powerful engine; keyless entry. All variants with the bigger engine have 18-inch alloys, which certainly sets them apart from the cheaper versions. But despite being $400 more than the Touring, the SP25 misses out on some of its equipment: no leather seats, illuminated vanity mirrors, sunglasses case or lumbar support. But the SP25 does have keyless entry (all Mazda3s have push-button start). And as soon as you push that button, you get a “that’s more like it” feeling. There’s definitely more grunt and it feels like the right engine for


this size of car. We’re talking about 25 per cent more push, which is even more noticeable when you hit the Sport mode trigger for the transmission to hold gears longer and allow the driver to get the most out of the engine. It’ll blip on the downshift, too, and the 2.5-litre — while still noisy — is a little more pleasant to listen to. The bigger wheels and skinnier tyres means it is a bit firmer over bumps but with the more powerful engine under the bonnet it’s definitely more fun in the driver’s seat.

As there’s only 13kg difference between this version and the rangetopping SP25 Astina (1328-1341kg), we took this drive in the SP25 as indicative enough of the entire 2.5-litre model range. It argues a strong case but the SP25 is missing some nice bits found in the Touring. SP25 GT, $31,990 AUTOMATIC Three key features: LED headlights, tail-lights and daytime running lights; heated leather electric seats; colour head-up display. This is a pretty big price jump —

$4300 — but there’s quite a big list of additional goodies. You get LED lighting up front and at the rear, plus a shark-fin antenna. And on the inside, it’s quite a step up, too. You regain leather seats and the driver’s seat has electric adjustment, too. Both front seats are heated. There’s a nine-speaker Bose sound system and traffic-sign recognition in the sat, plus there’s a driver attention system.

SP25 ASTINA, $35,490 AUTOMATIC Three key features: Sunroof; radar cruise control; high-speed AEB. You may have thought you got a lot of kit in the models below but the flagship SP25 Astina has lots of fruit for an extra $3500 over the SP25 GT. Our test car had optional wheels but the standard 18s get a different finish on the SP25 Astina, too. Also, you get adaptive LED headlights. Inside, the driver gets memory settings for their seat and extra seat adjustment but the passenger seat is still manually adjusted, which isn’t great at this price point. The driver also gets lane-keeping assistance, lane departure warning, and the AEB system steps up to a high-speed unit that works in conjunction with the adaptive cruise control. It can react at speeds up to 145km/h. But at more than $35K for the auto model, it’s pushing the price envelope a bit for a small car.




Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide

Take a quiet corner



Subtle changes to the popular Mazda bring a more relaxed ride

chief Alastair Doak. “We took a similar approach with the Mazda6 at the beginning of the year, embedding the safety as standard.” Unfortunately, despite the rhetoric, Mazda has left a reversing camera off the cheapest model. The diesel Mazda3 has been dropped from the range, which means the line-up includes sedan and hatchback bodies with two engines — 2.0 and 2.5-litre petrol fours — and six trim levels from Neo to SP25 Astina. Pricing is from $20,490 for a manual Neo through to $34,490 for the automatic SP25 Astina. ON THE ROAD In the past, the Mazda3 has generated its sporty driving response with taut suspension and aggressive chassis settings. and gearbox efficiency through its It was good for keen drivers, Skyactiv innovations. but not people who like a The for safety change is a little more relaxation in their trickle-down of what it calls

Australians may beisinfatuated as enjoyable to drive but with SUVs but the competition smoother, gentler and quieter in the family-car class is tougher in all conditions. than ever, with brilliant value in Mazda bangs on about the locally made Toyota Camry, iActivesense from the flagship driving and a quieter cabin. improved safety and holding more of everything in the latest Atenza (main pictures) to the We’ve had a lot of complaints the price line from $20,490 — Subaru Liberty, and even Honda Sport, Touring and GT models recently from Mazda3 owners whichgetting meanssmarter an effective value its PAUL GOVER PAUL GOVER by dropping without any price rise. Mazda actually who are unhappy about road boost underwhelming up to $1550 — Accord but it’sSport the Hybrid. claims it as a saving CHIEF REPORTER of $1200, noise, particularly at the rear. drive time thatAustralia unwraps thethe real Mazda says 6 is the although that’s not strictly true The fresh approach 2016 improvements in one of mid-size country’s most-popular except for the Atenza for which gets a TWO weeks of local testing a carcut that’s just as much favourite cars. It is outsold brings here is more to thehas update ofAustralia’s import under $60,000. genuine up to $1380 to maintain worked wonders on the funits in position cornersabove but more so,byit’s to see the the Mazda6 than expected. As Even only thegood built-in-Melbourne the GT. updated Mazda3. compliant in the ride and rear likes of speed-sign recognition, with other recent arrivals from Camry and the $60,000-plus Blind-spot monitoring, There areit’s only visual noticeably quieter Japan, thetiny hidden stuff that’s as Mercedes-Benz C-Class. cross-traffic alert,inside. smart city-brake cabin updates with a new wheel tweaksimportant on the 2016 model but as the headline changes in Moving along, the official line on support and auto-dipping It’s not as go-kart sharpmirror as it similarthe to Mazda6 the MX-5 and extra the dampers suspension the 2016and model. is all about improved on every wasare butnow it’s standard just as quick andMazda6. safety safety, tech including auto can see it, touch not only the passive crash- easier Theto Touring GT add a reversing mounts You among other thingsit and hustleand down a twisty emergency braking and lanefeel benefit it as youof drive. It’s not a barrier protection but also the function in the braking. show the on-road road and there is city none of the keeping assistance change but a genuinely active gear to on helpthe you avoid So the entire improved testinghuge in Australia. skipping and thumping that I higher-end models. improvement a crash in the first place. Mazda6 line-up is a little safer Allworthwhile models also get new for a car as characteristic is digital all Mazda remember that’s always near the front of There Beyond the radio safetyin strides, and available for less than of technology calledbeen G-Vectoring the earlier car. variants, for places where it thewhich mid-size pack. has done impressive work on engine $50,000 before on-roads. Control, uses engine It’s at least partly down to the works. torque to improve balance in test and development work “The update is about safety cornering. done in Australia last year and and technology, with some small definitely attributable to the The result is a car that is just exterior cosmetic changes,” says 26 vectoring tech. Mazda Australia marketing


ON THE ROAD The updated Mazda6 — safety gear apart — is surprisingly good. The Touring sedan that arrives for The Tick testing is well-equipped and finished and drives well. It doesn’t feel as sporty as some of the Camry rivals or the Ford Mondeo, or as roomy as a Volkswagen Passat. Compared with the Honda Accord or even the Subaru Liberty it feels substantial and classy. The 6 reminds me almost immediately about its extra safety when the blind-spot light in the driver’s side mirror flashes and I get a warning beep. It feels comforting, in common with other models with visual reminders of the right time to change lanes. Thankfully, I don’t get to trial the smart city-brake support, either front or rear, although I know it will alert me in the back and add brake pressure if it senses a potential crash ahead. So I’m able to relax and enjoy the car, which is noticeably quieter and more refined than I remember from my last run in a Mazda6. It’s a reflection of the improved plastics and upgraded soundproofing that Japanese makers fit these days, now that the cost-cutting hangover has cleared, post global financial crisis. It took the arrival of the Skyactiv engines to truly win me to non-rotary Mazdas, which had always been a bit too harsh for my liking. The smoothness of the latest 2.5-litre four is something to enjoy. The stop-start fuel-saving tech works well, there is good mid-range torque of 250 Newton-metres and, at the top end, there are 138kW for overtaking. The six-speed auto is smooth and efficient. The car is not particularly quick against the stopwatch but in the class that’s not important.

It has a worthwhile tow rating but some people will be disappointed that the spare wheel is only a space-saver. On the ride-and-handling front, the Mazda6 has good grip and the ride is firm-ish but still comfortable. In the cabin (pictured left), I like the seven-inch touchscreen and the punch of the audio. The electric parking brake shows Mazda has been finessing the hidden details in the car. THE TICK It’s always good to comeback to a car you like and discover genuine improvements. Especially when, thanks the exchange rate, there is no price increase. The Mazda6 has earned The Tick from the very start and there is no reason for any change. In fact, the 2016 model is noticeably improved and it’s easy to award it The Tick once again.

AT A GLANCE MAZDA6 TOURING SEDAN PRICE From $37,290 WARRANTY 3 years/ unlimited km CAPPED SERVICING $1628 for 3 years SAFETY 5 stars ENGINE 2.5 litre 4-cyl, 138kW/250Nm TRANSMISSION 6-speed auto; FWD THIRST 6.6L/100km DIMENSIONS 4865mm (L), 1840mm (W), 1450mm (H), 2830mm (WB) WEIGHT From 1455kg SPARE Space-saver TOWING 1500kg 0-100KM/H 8.2 secs


REVIEW 15 SEP 2016




t sits as the second-best seller in the medium segment under $60,000. However, the Mazda6 gets there on the back of private sales, unlike the best-selling Camry which owes its success to a strong fleet-standing. But rather than chase volume, Mazda has instead opted to chase loftier targets. It sees its upper-end models, the GT and Atenza, as a better-value option against prestige players from Mercedes-Benz and


BMW. And that’s not quite the stretch that it might at first seem. OVERVIEW For 2017 Mazda has left the positioning of the Mazda6 untouched. Pricing is the same as before, as is the four-model range with a choice of sedan or wagon. As the flagship model, the Mazda6 Atenza steps up with added safety technology, and a plusher interior, using top-shelf materials like Nappa

leather to place a foot firmly in prestige territory. Engine specs are unchanged, but Mazda’s latest technological masterwork, G-Vectoring Control makes its way into the 6 just weeks after debuting in the updated Mazda3. THE INTERIOR • Standard Equipment: Nappa leather seat trim, power-adjustable front seats, heated front and rear outboard seats, dual-zone

climate control, powered sunroof, adaptive LED headlights, radar cruise control, leather wrapped steering wheel and gear lever, trip computer with colour TFT display, head-up driver display, keyless entry and start with walk-away locking, auto lights and wipers, 19-inch alloy wheels • Infotainment: 7.0 inch touchscreen with supplementary rotary controller, DAB+ digital radio, satellite navigation, 11-speaker Bose audio, smartphone streaming app support, USB and Aux inputs, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity

• Cargo Volume: 474 litres, expandable via 60:40 split fold rear seats Though little has changed on the inside, Mazda has made a push towards a more premium feel to the cabin. The seats are now trimmed in Nappa leather, with a more soft and supple feel than the standard leather trim, available in either black or white and contrasted with titaniumcoloured piping and stitching. There are also new titanium trim plates across the dash, doors, and centre console, also with a premium look and feel. And, auto-folding

mirrors, colour displays in the centre console and the head-up display also bring the Mazda6 up to speed with the CX-9 and Mazda3. Interior fitting and space are otherwise unchanged, with a lowseated, but still spacious feel and a hint of coupe-like intimacy thanks to the sweeping low roof. Sedan buyers are treated to extra legroom in the rear, thanks to the four-door’s longer wheelbase compared to the wagon, but, as a result of the rather low rear-roofline, taller rear seat passengers may not find the rear of a Mazda6 the best place to while away the hours.

2017 MAZDA6 ATENZA VEHICLE STYLE Medium sedan PRICE $45,390 (plus on-roads) ENGINE/TRANS 138kW/250Nm 2.5-litre 4cyl petrol FUEL ECONOMY CLAIMED 6.6 l/100km TESTED 7.9 l/100km



The infotainment system remains as-before with a screen size of 7.0-inches (not the larger 8.0-inch display of the CX-9) including satellite navigation, and app connectivity through compatible smartphones, however there’s still no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity. ON THE ROAD • Engine: 138kW/250Nm 2.5 litre SkyActiv naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol • Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front wheel drive • Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link independent rear • Brakes: 297mm ventilated front discs, 278mm solid rear discs • Steering: Electric power steering, 11.2m turning circle • Towing Capacity: 1500kg braked, 550kg unbraked Though the engine may be unchanged, the updated Mazda6 range is no worse for it. Outputs are the same 138kW at 5700rpm and


250Nm at 3250rpm as before, and while it’s no rocket, the Mazda6 gets along smartly. Some of Mazda’s sound deadening work (particularly on the Atenza) is revealed with a quieter interior, particularly at idle, though once on the road, there’s still a little more road noise than is ideal. But whether commuting or on the highway, the Mazda6 is

certainly polished, and offers what might be the best relationship between the steering wheel and the front tyres of any front-wheel-drive mid-sizer. Part of that comes down to Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control – this new in-house technology is designed to increase load over the front wheels when cornering, making steering more accurate and precise

filter, and spark plugs. Consult your local dealer for full details.

while at the same time removing small directional shifts. The system won’t be one that every driver (or passenger) can detect but in practice it means less need to take a ‘second bite’ at a corner and reduced nibbling at the wheel in a straight line. The result is a more fluid and relaxed time behind the wheel. Certainly the huge 19-inch alloy wheels of the up-spec Atenza look the part, but they also mean that it isn’t quite as absorbent over surface imperfections as lower-spec cars on 17-inch wheels. Though the ride is compliant for the most part, there’s an underlying firmness that is just a touch out-ofstep with the car’s premise of being a plush prestige-rival. On road it is quick enough, and has ample there for safe overtaking and dealing with hills. But the Mazda6 lacks the flexible torque rush of turbocharged rivals like the Hyundai Sonata and Ford Mondeo. Buyers looking to replicate that torquey-rush can opt for the diesel variant instead, which has undergone further work to increase refinement, and we’ll have a full review of that car soon.

SAFETY • ANCAP Rating: 5-Stars – this model scored 35.44 out of 37 possible points When tested in 2013. • Safety Features: All Mazda6 models are equipped with six airbags, a reversing camera, rear park sensors, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, front and rear city autonomous braking, electronic stability control, and ABS brakes. The Atenza adds lane-keep assist, lane departure warning, forward obstruction warning, driver attention alert (fatigue monitoring), and autonomous braking with a higher operating threshold. WARRANTY AND SERVICING • Warranty: Three years/ unlimited kilometres • Servicing: Service intervals are set at every 12 months or 10,000km whichever occurs first. Service pricing varies from $302 for every odd-numbered service, up to $330 for even-numbered intervals, with extra charges (and a separate interval) for items like brake fluid, spark plugs, cabin filter, air filter, fuel

RIVALS TO CONSIDER Despite the shrinking market for medium sedans, there’s no shortage of upscale offering in the segment like the Hyundai Sonata Premium and Kia Optima GT, both packed to the gills with features but still attractively priced. Value is also the calling card of the Subaru Liberty Premium, which also includes all wheel drive, and the choice of a six-cylinder engine. If practicality is more your thing, then the Ford Mondeo Titanium comes with a versatile hatchback design. The biggest seller in the segment, by far, is the Toyota Camry, though the top-spec Atara SL doesn’t quite match the premium look and feel of the Mazda6. TMR VERDICT | OVERALL The first generation Mazda6 was one of the first medium cars to advance the class from mere A-to-Z transport into a statement of style. It is now good enough to be considered premium, but priced to fit the needs of userchooser lease plans. But the Mazda6 isn’t alone, there is some good machinery in that medium sedan and wagon segment; a bit ironical given the segment is shrinking under the squeeze of a rampant SUV market. But thanks to its slinky styling, feature-packed equipment list and handling that’s secondto-none for the segment, the Mazda6 Atenza really does challenge executive sedans. Any way you look at it, this is a smart buy. It may not have the lure of a three-pointed star, but a spin around the block in a Mazda6 will give you more than a few things to think about.


REVIEW 18 SEP 2016 Sunday Times, Perth



ROLLING updates rather than revolutionary changes seem to be the hallmark of Mazda’s olling So updates rather than model plans. far, it’s working. revolutionary changes seem The Mazda6 mid-sized to be the hallmark of Mazda’s sedan and wagon launched model plans. So far, it’s working. hereThe in 2012 and was Mazda6 mid-sized sedan and comprehensively refreshed wagon launched here in 2012in and was


comprehensively refreshed in 2015 but it has just come in for its second update of 2016. While the changes appear relatively minor, they improve the 6’s safety and comfort without adding to the price. It is a value-add designed to keep the Mazda6 as the most successful imported mid-sized sedan.


The but range starts at come $32,490 2015 it has just in for for the Sport sedan equipped with the its second update of 2016. 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and sixWhile the changes appear speed automatic transmission and relatively minor, they improve winds out at $49,540 for the Atenza the 6’s safety and comfort wagon with a 2.2-litre turbodiesel. without adding tobe the The changes should enough is a value-add designed keepItsales ticking at about 380 to keep the Mazda6 as the vehicles a month, marketingmost boss successful mid-sized Alastair Doakimported says. sedan. Those numbers will keep the Theahead rangeofstarts at $32,490 Mazda6 the Subaru Outback and Ford Mondeo in for the Sport sedan equipped second place outright in the with the 2.5-litre four-cylinder segment, though a mile behind engine and six-speed automatic the locally built and Toyota Camry. transmission winds out at Mazda expects mid-sized $49,540 for thethe Atenza wagon segment to continue to shrink as with a 2.2-litre turbodiesel. The buyers turn to smaller cars and SUVs. Mazda Australia boss Martin Benders says the end of local Camry production next year should shakeup the market, given “I don’t think they (Toyota) will be able to price the import quite as sharply as they have the local car”. At the other end of the price spectrum the Mazda6 Atenza is

being pushed as a fully-laden changesalternative should betoenough to mainstream the keep sales ticking at about 380 base prestige sedans — and now month,upholstery marketing hasvehicles the nappaa leather boss Alastair Doak and interior bling to showsays. off with the premium Thoseset. numbers will keep the All updatedahead 6s have front Mazda6 ofthicker the Subaru glass and improved sealsMondeo around the Outback and Ford in doors to cutplace road noise, which second outright inhas the traditionally a Mazda bugbear. segment,been though a mile behind

the locally built Toyota Camry.

ON THE ROAD Mazda expects the mid-sized The headline act of the new range segment to continue to shrink is a torque-vectoring program that as buyers turn to smaller cars adjusts the engine output to optimise and SUVs. the weight load on each wheel, Mazda Australia Martin depending on what the carboss is doing. Benders says the end of local In essence, the engine will decelerate when it detects a change

VERDICT If the driving experience matters, the Mazda6 needs to be in the mix if you’re buying a new sedan. And if you drive one after testing an SUV, expect a revelation.

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AT A GLANCE PRICE Mazda has kept prices static for this update, largely on the basis of protecting its market share against newer arrivals such as the Volkswagen Passat.

in steering angle, which has the effect of loading weight onto the front axle to improve turn-in grip. If a constant lock is maintained, the torque is reinstated, transferring weight back to the rear wheels to optimise tyre contact. It’s not something you can detect in normal driving. The engines and transmissions carry over, though the 2.2-litre diesel has been tweaked to improve engine knock and rattle. It is a great diesel to drive, with virtually no lag and it seems quieter than before, though we can’t say how much of that comes down to the mechanical revisions and how much to the improved cabin insulation. Shame then, that only about 10 per cent of buyers will end up owning the turbo diesel. The drive itself is as good as it gets in this class. The 6 is light on its tyres, responds quickly to steering inputs either via the wheel or the pedals and has decent brakes. Back seat head room isn’t great but is fine for kids, or shorter trips for adults.

VITALS PRICE From $32,490 WARRANTY 3 years/unlimited km CAPPED SERVICING From $934 over 3 years SERVICE INTERVALS 12 months/10,000km SAFETY 5 stars, 6 airbags ENGINES 2.5-litre 4-cyl petrol, 138kW/250Nm; 2.2-litre 4-cyl diesel turbo, 129kW/420Nm TRANSMISSION 6-speed auto, FWD THIRST 5.4-6.6L/100km DIMENSIONS Sedan 4865mm (L), 1840mm (W), 1450mm (H), 2830mm (WB) Wagon 4800mm (L), 1840mm (W), 1480mm (H), 2750mm (WB) WEIGHT 1487-1607kg SPARE Space-saver TOWING 1500-1600kg

TECHNOLOGY The safety suite has been updated with improved pedestrian detection for the cityspeed autonomous emergency braking. Digital audio is now standard across the range and the top-end Atenza variant picks up adaptive cruise control. Atenza and GT versions now have a colour head-up display and heated rear seats. PERFORMANCE There are no changes to the engine outputs but diesel buyers will find the oilburner is quieter thanks to changes to the pistons and the injection process. DRIVING New torque-vectoring software is designed to maximise the grip during cornering. Sounds tricky, works seamlessly. DESIGN Indicator repeaters on the side mirrors are the only exterior changes but there’s a bit happening inside on the Atenza, which is unashamedly aiming upmarket with nappa leather upholstery, a black headliner, titanium-look trim and more chrome highlights.


REVIEW 03 MAY 2016



azda’s spunky CX-3 range offers no shortage of options. As well as four model grades, there’s also a choice of petrol, diesel, all-wheel-drive, front-wheel-drive, manual, and automatic variations. The CX-3 is one of few in its segment to offer such a selection for buyers. So, with a model to suit all budgets, striking styling, and a raft of safety and convenience features, is Mazda’s smallest SUV the ‘best of the bunch’ in this fast-growing segment? OVERVIEW We’ve gone to the top of the CX-3 heap for this review, the feature


packed Mazda CX-3 Akari. It comes with everything, every technology that the CX-3 range has to offer (although the Akari’s standard safety kit can be optioned onto lesser CX-3 models). And it can be yours with front or all-wheel-drive. We’ve selected the latter, which means there’s no manual option as AWD comes with a sixspeed automatic only, but there is still a choice of diesel and petrol. We’re testing the 2.0 litre petrol model here. Beneath the skin, the CX-3 has a lot in common with the Mazda2 hatch, but also borrows technology

like its head-up display and Smart City Brake Support from the larger Mazda3 and CX-5. At a touch over $35k before on road costs, the CX-3 Akari isn’t exactly a budget buy (though the range kicks off from $19,990). But, with a long equipment list, and advanced safety technology, those shopping for ‘one with the lot’ won’t be disappointed. THE INTERIOR • Standard Equipment: Single-zone climate control, leather and suede look upholstery, keyless entry and ignition, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, power

windows, cruise control, leather steering wheel, dusk-sensing LED headlamps, auto wipers, 18-inch alloy wheels • Infotainment: MZD Connect infotainment suite with 7-inch colour touchscreen display, rotary controller, satellite navigation, smartphone app compatibility (Stitcher, Pandora, Aha) AM/FM/ CD/USB audio and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity. Singlecolour head-up display with speed and navigation data • Cargo Volume: 264 litres seats up, 1174 litres seats down Leather seat-trim, two-tone interior, head-up display, multimedia infotainment – there’s really very little missing from the top-of-therange CX-3 Akari. While the interior itself is derived from the Mazda2, the upmarket styling touches of the Akari give the CX-3 a stylishly upmarket look and feel. We like Mazda’s funky looking instrument cluster, with a sporty central tacho, but more importantly a highly legible digital speedo, twinned in the head-up display (a ‘must have’ in speed limited Australia).

Similarly, the Mazda2’s underpinnings mean that despite the bulkier looking SUV body, interior space is a little more intimate than you might be expecting. Up front, that’s no real problem, the driver and front passenger are treated to comfy seats with a decent range of adjustability, however there’s still plenty of hard plastics, and, bafflingly, no centre armrest. As a car designed with urban couples and empty nesters in mind, rear seat space isn’t exactly limo-like. There’s seating for three, but the space is best shared by two children, or two adults... but smaller ones. While headroom isn’t a problem, taller passengers will notice the squeezy legroom, while shorter passengers may bemoan the lack of visibility out of the narrow rear windows. Mazda’s MZD Connect infotainment system also deserves praise as one of the cleverest systems of its kind with an easyto-understand menu layout, plus touchscreen accessibility when stopped, with simplified rotary controls once the car is moving.

MAZDA CX-3 2016 AKARI AWD VEHICLE STYLE Compact SUV PRICE $35,290 (plus on-roads) ENGINE/TRANS 109kW/192Nm 2.0 4cyl petrol | 6sp automatic FUEL ECONOMY CLAIMED 6.7 l/100km TESTED 7.5 l/100km



A few points need to shaved off for cabin versatility however. There’s a large glovebox and a bottle holder in each door, but no covered storage in the centre stack or front console, with neither space offering a good wallet/phone/keys dumping ground. The boot is also amongst the smallest in its segment at 264 litres, and the load lip is high. But there is a sub-floor for tucking smaller items out of sight, and the seatbacks offer one-touch fold-flat functionality. ON THE ROAD • Engine: 109kW/192Nm 2.0 litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol • Transmission: Six-speed automatic, all wheel drive


• Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear • Brakes: 295mm ventilated disc front, 281mm solid disc rear • Steering: Electric power steering • Towing capacity: 1200kg braked, 640kg unbraked The CX-3 range offers a choice of petrol or diesel engines throughout the range, but in this instance we’re driving the 2.0 litre petrol model, equipped with all-wheel-drive. Under the bonnet is Mazda’s 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated SkyActiv four-cylinder engine, delivering 109kW of power at 6000rpm and 192Nm of torque at 2800rpm. In and around city streets the SkyActiv engine is a willing unit, with a perky, rev-happy nature to help

it move along. And it has no trouble with the little CX-3. (The turbo diesel alternative is punchier once rolling, however, due to its strong low-down torque.) That’s not a massive problem, and the ‘rev-ability’ of the petrol engine, and its free-spinning nature contributes to a sporty feel behind the wheel. Sure, it can become a bit buzzy when pushed, and it lacks a little of the instant oomph of the diesel at highway speeds. That said, thanks to the sharply honed six-speed automatic, the Mazda has no trouble adeptly picking the right gear when conditions change or in a bit of a rush to sprint between corners. Kickdown response is fast for overtaking or when tackling hills.

With economy in mind, high gears and low rpm are the usual operating mode, but give the Sport toggle below the gear shifter a nudge, and the CX-3 will hold gears longer, and kickdown even more eagerly. With fairly monstrous 18-inch alloy wheels, the CX-3 rides well. It is also able to shrug off smaller imperfections and has a nice elastic feel, with good wheel travel, over larger bumps. At the same time, this little SUV isn’t afraid of a set of curves, with

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL The CX-3 Akari is a very likeable little bus: it’s handsome on the outside, with a premium look and feel inside. It’s not hard to see why it has won so many fans in its first year on sale. Admittedly, the same fiscal outlay could see you in a larger, but lower-specced CX-5. But, if space isn’t your key priority, then try the plush Akari on for size it’s got essentially the same AWD capability, a comfortable interior (if a bit tight in the back) and really appealing sporty lines. Add pleasant on-road manners and a willing drivetrain, and there is a LOT to like in the funky little CX-3. It is one of our faves...

level cornering, and no wallow or bounce along choppy roads. The lighter nose of the petrol compared to the diesel, certainly helps in that regard. And, thanks to all-wheel-driv,e there’s no sign of torque steer, that tugging at the steering wheel when moving off, in either wet or dry conditions. The on-demand system adds rearwheel assistance if grip levels are low, helping in wet weather, or on low friction surfaces like gravel or snow.

Is all-wheel-drive in a car like this strictly necessary? Not really, but it adds a layer of security if heading to the snow and on slippery rural roads. (Or you can choose from the slightly less-expensive frontwheel-drive variants.) With just a little more sound insulation Mazda could have a real winner on its hands with the CX-3. However, as is the case with a number of Mazda products, there’s just a little bit too much engine and road noise at highway speeds. It’s a minor debit, as it’s not excessive, just constantly present. SAFETY • ANCAP rating: 5-Stars – The CX-3 scored 36.44 out of 37 possible points. • Safety features: Six airbags (dual front, front side and curtain), ABS, EBD, brake assist, stability and traction control, hill launch assist and rear parking sensors are standard across the CX-3 range. Advanced safety features on the CX-3 Akari include blind spot monitoring, autonomous emergency braking, high beam control, lane departure warning, and rear cross traffic alert. RIVALS TO CONSIDER Neither the Nissan Qashqai nor Honda HR-V offer all-wheel-drive, but both are great compact SUVs. The new turbocharged Suzuki Vitara is also a contender for your dollars. With a lot more zest underfoot, it is now a much nicer drive than it was previously. And, if you’re after something a little more quirky, the Citroen C4 Cactus might fit the bill or even the Skoda Yeti. The latter looks small, but has a huge, flexible interior (and isn’t a half-bad drive).


REVIEW 17 JUN 2016


CURT DUPRIEZ Comparisons Editor



s regular followers of our long-term reports may note, most of our extended-loan test cars pass through the CarAdvice garage for a good time, if not a terribly long time. Three or four months generally provides us with a taster of simulated real-world ownership, with time to shake out the bugs. However, usually, by this time, a long-term test car is cleaned, fuelled, and farewelled for the final time. Our intrepid 2016 Mazda CX-3 Maxx long-termer,

though, has stuck around and made it through to report number four… The Mazda CX-3 has become something of a good-time getaway car for the CarAdvice crew, and this month was no exception. And good times were certainly on the cards when our marketing and communications executive, Kathryn Marshall, pinched the key and pointed its ‘Kodo’ grille towards New South Wales’ winery mecca, the Hunter Valley… For a weekend… With her boyfriend Luke. A trip, allegedly, “for work”.

If we had a stand-up candidate for WineAdvice, then… As it turns out, Kathryn’s preference for ‘reds’ favours Mazda’s Soul Red as much as it does a rich cab-sav. She recently became the proud owner of her very own 2016 Mazda 2 Genki hatchback, finished in the same triple-process hero colour as our small Japanese SUV – The Little SUV That Could. Given the CX-3 is based off the Mazda 2 and the five-door pair share much more than passing visual similarities, Kathryn

is as ideally placed as anyone in the CarAdvice fold to judge the merits of the more family-flavoured model, and whether its more commodious format brings much to the pint-sized Mazda ownership experience. Handily, the two Mazdas are similar in price, which make them realistic options to cross-shop against one another. Kat’s chosen combination of a high-level Genki trim and a manual transmission lobs in at $20,690 (before on-road costs and options). Meanwhile, our CX-3 front-driver,

in less-luxurious Maxx spec with an automatic transmission, wants for $24,390 (before on-road costs and added extras). Apart from a selfshifting gearbox, the added $3700 in outlay for the SUV gets you two litres under the bonnet, against the Mazda 2’s 1.5-litre engine. Kathryn’s weekend away put over 400 kays under the CX-3’s tyres and she came away banking plenty of opinions. “The CX-3 is noticeably roomier than the Mazda 2,” Kat says. “Luke





is quite tall and he can’t seem to comfortably stretch his legs in the passenger seat of my car, but he had plenty of room to do so in the SUV.” Familiarity fosters friendliness, and the common cabin design between the two Mazdas meant Kathryn connected with the SUV like it was an old friend. “One of my big loves about Mazdas is the simplicity of the controls,” she explains. “Everything is exactly where you expect it to be. There are no fancy dash button for functions such as lights and wipers: they’re all logically located on the stalks behind the steering wheel. “I love the infotainment system. It’s great that it offers touchscreen

functionality, but it’s even better that there’s a super-simple rotary controller between the driver and front passenger. “I also love how easy it is to connect to Bluetooth. One of most important aspects of a road trip is the soundtrack along the way, so I had some great playlists set up in the Spotify app. Each time we stopped for fuel or snacks, the system would pause my music, then start it up from where it left off once Bluetooth reconnected.” So what of the CX-3’s larger and more powerful 2.0-litre engine? “Is it really? I didn’t notice. Perhaps the automatic transmission put me off (remember Kathryn’s Mazda 2 is a manual). I can understand the convenience of an auto for bumper-to-bumper Sydney traffic, but I like to feel more in control of engine performance and acceleration, particularly on a long drive. On the whole I just



find automatic cars are just not as exciting to drive as manual cars. “It drives smoothly and comfortably on a flat road, but head uphill, and all I wanted to do was slap it into third gear and zip effortlessly forward. Instead, the CX-3 sort of forces you to cruise in the slow lane until the transmission kicks down and, even then, the engine sounds like it’s giving its all and is quite noisy. “I kept thinking to myself, ‘My Genki could do this easily’.” While the CX-3 provides more spaciousness, the high-spec Genki trades off with more lavish equipment. It’s a trade Kathryn doesn’t regret in her chosen ownership experience. “The biggest difference I found between the two is the head-up display, which I’ve come to rely on for its speed readout and navigation instructions. My


gorgeous Genki has it, and it was sorely missed in the CX-3 Maxx. “The SUV also lacks automatic headlights. I keep my Genki’s lights on ‘auto’ all the time to take the guesswork out of knowing when the right conditions are to turn them on. I like having them turn off automatically when I turn the car off too. It’s not a massive issue, but I find it odd that a 2016 car, regardless of its badge, wouldn’t have this feature. Anywhere else where the CX-3 Maxx was left wanting? “I’m a huge fan of electronic seat adjustments located at the side of the seat base, but I found the CX-3 Maxx’s manual seating adjustment to be very clunky. That said, once adjusted, the seats themselves are very comfortable.” So could Kat be swayed by the SUV format? “I can see how the CX-3 is more comfortable for passengers,

Spacious; excellent infotainment system; comfy seats Noisy engine; lacklustre automatic transmission; powertrain combination not as enjoyable as 1.5-litre manual in Mazda 2

particularly in the back row. It’s purely due to the larger cabin space. But at my current stage in life, I wouldn’t benefit from having the SUV over my hatchback – I’m usually on my own or it’s only Luke and I in the car. “From a financial standpoint, I think that $24,390 for a compact SUV is a steal! It’s just that I associate the CX-3 with newlyweds that either have or intend to have children. It just screams: ‘young family’. “The Mazda 2, on the other hand, is a sensible and fun light car that’s perfect for a young and independent female like me. I know that $20,690 is expensive for such a small car, particularly when you can pick up a micro-sized Mitsubishi Mirage or Kia Picanto for $15,000 or less, but the Genki has all of the features I desired in a new car and it delivers really good bang for the bucks. “Before I took delivery, I did lose sleep over the large investment in the Mazda 2. But as soon as I laid eyes on my new ride once it arrived in the showroom, I knew I’d made the right decision.” With her time in the long-term Mazda CX-3 up, Kathryn is back in her own little beast and, by all reports, continuing to enjoy her purchase. Stay tuned for long-term report five, coming soon, for more on our 2016 Mazda CX-3 Maxx… CARADVICE RATING 8 / 10 PERFORMANCE & ECONOMY











REVIEW 04 APR 2016




he Mazda CX-5 is not exactly a car that has slipped under anyone’s radar here at CarAdvice. Since it launched in 2012 it has consistently ranked as one of our favourite medium SUVs. Its facelift at the start of 2015 only enhanced the appeal. Our stance to the car has long been reflected in the sales charts too. The Mazda CX-5 is, more often than not, Australia’s top-selling SUV of any sort, and almost always in the overall monthly top 10.


But the medium SUV segment just keeps on booming — no part of the new vehicle market is growing faster — and a swathe of new rivals just keep on launching. First it was the Hyundai Tucson, then the new Kia Sportage. The past few months have also brought with them updates to the Toyota RAV4, Ford Kuga and Subaru Forester. As you can read in our recent comparison test against the Hyundai and Kia — a veritable battle of the class heavyweights — the Mazda still holds up pretty well. But the general consensus is that it’s no longer the undisputed class champion. The car we used in the comparison test, and the one we review separately here, is the 2016 Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport with the optional Safety Package, in front-wheel drive form with the base 2.0-litre petrol engine.

The reason is simple — it’s the specification that a significant number of CX-5 buyers opt for. At $32,790 plus on-road costs ($34,020 as tested), it’s not a lot of coin for a well-equipped family hauler. And for many urban dwellers, the idea of allwheel drive is nice, but no necessity. So what do you get? The CX-5 comes with a class-competitive equipment list including cruise control, a 7.0-inch screen with satellite navigation, Bluetooth/USB, climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights and a five-star ANCAP rating. It also gets upmarket niceties less common at this price point such as a very upmarket-feeling leather steering wheel, keyless start and Mazda’s version of the BMW iDrive system, called MZD Connect — a rotary dial with shortcuts that


operates all of the screen’s functions. Notable misses include the lack of leather seats, which many pricepoint rivals get, as well as the lack of a full-size alloy spare wheel, parking sensors (it does come with a rearview camera, however) and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring software. But while it misses out in these areas, Mazda’s Safety Pack is nighon unsurpassed. For $1230, you get

blind-spot monitoring, rear crosstraffic alert (you can back out of a car park and the camera warns you of oncoming traffic), an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and low-speed autonomous braking. This options pack is the definition of a no-brainer. All told, the Mazda CX-5 still offers a compelling package. The cabin itself is just a lovely place to spend time with plenty of storage and good ergonomics. That leather wheel,

the knurled switches, silver cabin inserts, expensive-looking gauges (albeit without a digital speedo) and electric parking brake all feel highend European. Plus, said MZD Connect system that operates the screen (which is integrated but surrounded by some of the cabin’s few cheap plastics) remains a class benchmark, and the infotainment UX is a breeze to operate. The standard six-speaker



sound system is also superior to most rivals, with no obvious distortion or tinniness. The only real CX-5 weak spot up front is the seats. We can overlook to a degree the lack of leather trim, which is not uncommon at the price, but they’re also flimsy, lack bolstering and are short in the base. Mazda’s cloth seats tend to be a little average, and these are no exception. Rear seat space is sufficient for two adults, and the seats themselves are of acceptable comfort, though the soft front seat-backs won’t be super child-friendly. The outboard pews have ISOFIX anchors, and the Mazda has a neat seat-mounted middle seatbelt rather than the bothersome roof-mounted belts of some rivals. But there are no rear air vents, and no rear USB or 12-volt inputs. Cargo space with the rear seats in use is a claimed 403 litres, which


is enough for four big suitcases stacked in pairs, expanding to an above-average 1560L with the middle seats folded. The Mazda also has the class-best cargo cover, because it clips to the tailgate, and is one of few in the class with levers in the cargo area to drop the middle seats (it even drops them 40:20:40 individually), meaning you don’t have to walk around the car to perform this task. Gold. Under the bonnet is a small 2.0-litre SkyActiv engine familiar from the Mazda 3. It makes a modest 114kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4000rpm, but then again, the CX-5’s kerb weight of 1491kg is light for the class, which counts in the Mazda’s favour. It’s a surprisingly willing engine once you overcome the loud and tinny initial idle. It delivers its torque to the front wheels in a linear and immediate fashion and has a halfdecent mid-range under revs. It’s not

going to win any drag races, but for urban duties it’s absolutely fine. Still, it’s also never exactly ‘zoom zoom’. Its claimed fuel use of 6.4 litres per 100km is among the best in the class. We managed high 7s, but we’d note that this still beat the Tucson and Sportage in our comparison. The towing capacity is listed as 1800kg braked, but it’d be slow going.


7.5/10 8/10 8.5/10





Clever cargo area solutions; MZD Connect infotainment system; good fuel economy; excellent and affordable safety tech Cloth seats are lacking support; base 2.0 engine is modest; warranty term shorter than key rivals

For those want some extra grunt, an extra $3000 gets you a Maxx Sport with a 138kW/250Nm 2.5 petrol engine and AWD, and a further $3200 on top of that gets you the 129kW/420Nm diesel option. Matched to the engine is a sixspeed automatic gearbox, which is among the cleverest around. It’s non-intrusive and decisive in urban work, and if you flick the car into its sports mode, gets notably aggressive and eager to downshift if you want to tackle some corners. In typical Mazda fashion, the CX-5 is a fairly dynamic drive, with a little more steering resistance (weight) than some, and a keen-ness to turn-in. Its chassis is balanced, its body control hatch-like, and its ride firm without being uncomfortable — though it isn’t quite as cosseting as a Tucson.

There’s still a little excess road noise, though sound-deadening was improved as part of the MY15 update. This only becomes pronounced at highway speeds on coarser chip roads, however. From an ownership perspective, the Mazda comes with a three-year/ unlimited kilometre warranty. Mazda standard roadside assistance costs $68.10 per year, while its premium roadside assistance adds benefits such as accommodation, a rental car, or vehicle recovery, at a cost of $83.50 per year – most other brands don’t charge for roadside care. It also comes with lifetime cappedprice servicing, with maintenance

due every 10,000km or 12 months, whichever occurs first (that’s more regular than some competitors, too). All told, the Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport is still an outstanding buy, especially with the Safety Pack. If you’re just ambling around the city, the 2.0-litre and FWD combination will suffice. If you can find the extra $3000, the 2.5 with AWD is more desirable again. As we found in our separate comparison test, the Kia Sportage provides extremely stiff competition, but don’t think this Mazda staple has weakened with a few years under its belt. It’s still vital, and still needs to be on your shortlist.


REVIEW 13 FEB 2016



he mother of all snow storms made conditions absolutely diabolical for motor vehicles of any kind – but the timing couldn’t be better for the inaugural Mazda Ice Academy in Colorado this month. Mazda’s thinking was thus: use low-friction surfaces to emphasise the capability of its seldom-discussed all-wheel drive (AWD) system, dubbed iACTIV. Mazda reckons its iACTIV parttime AWD system is more proactive in its initiation and generally better than its Japanese rivals, due to its ability to interpolate more data via a multitude of sensors.


Indeed, the company wasn’t shy about boasting how its part-time AWD system is better than Subaru’s. With the snow storm raging outside – it was so severe it shut down airports and forced cars off the road – and temperatures dropping to almost 20 degrees centigrade below zero, it’s explained that we’ll undertake a number of exercises on a specially created private snow and ice course designed to test the AWD systems. Long story short? Both the CX-3 and CX-5 performed well in the treacherous conditions — far better than expected. There were a number of elements to the Ice Academy, including thrashing an MX-5 around an autocross track (stay tuned for that one) and testing the difference between all-season and winter tyres on a CX-3.

However, the most instructive test was the hill start and slalom course, which provided the opportunity to benchmark the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5, back to back. SLALOM TEST Off the mark, the CX-5 accelerated slightly faster than its rivals, then each vehicle was pushed to around 27mph (43km/h) for the slalom course, where the Mazda performed better than the other two in rapid changes of direction, left to right. The slalom run ended with a wide, sweeping right-hand bend designed to test the vehicles’ ability to hold a line through a low-grip corner. We had two runs in each of the three vehicles, back to back, but realistically Mazda would never have offered the media the Subaru and Honda as yardsticks if it knew the result was not going to be in its

favour. As such, tests like these are always fraught with inconsistencies and variables. But for what it’s worth, on the day, the CR-V was the least confident in the treacherous, low-grip conditions. The Honda understeered into the first turn of the slalom, its electronic stability control system intrusive to the point where throttle and steering response achieved little. It could corner only at single-digit speeds. Of the three SUVs on test, the CR-V felt the most nervous and had the

least grip, ploughing its front-end wide when its throttle was applied though the final 180-degree sweeping corner. The second vehicle we tested was the CX-5. Compared to the other two it had more communicative steering, so you had a better idea of what the front-end was about to do. It felt less clumsy than the CR-V, exhibited the least understeer of the trio, instilled the most confidence and was fastest through the slalom. Simply put, it felt more in control than the CR-V and relied far less on



its stability and traction controls to maintain its trajectory. It also rounded the final sweeper corner with more confidence, and this was where you could feel AWD system working most clearly. We expected the Subaru to be the most capable in the conditions, and after reaching 27mph the Forester felt tight initially, much like the CX-5 into the first corner. But in the second slalom corner, as it changed direction, it lacked the stability of the Mazda, ploughing forward with understeer and unable to maintain its intended direction. The rest of the slalom had to be taken slightly slower and with more caution as a result. The Forester wasn’t as untidy as the CR-V, but wasn’t quite as sharp as the CX-5. It also didn’t have the poise of the CX-5 through


the final sweeping corner, but it wasn’t far off. Bear in mind the Forester tested here features a part-time AWD system similar to the other two cars, as it was equipped with a CVT automatic transmission and not the seamless, full-time AWD system of manual-equipped Foresters. HILL START TEST The second test involving the three Japanese mid-size SUVs was a hill start test, for which we were tasked with stopping on an incline, turning the wheel to the right and attempting to pull away. Interestingly, it was the Forester that seemed to struggle the most with this one, with outside observation revealing the vehicle’s unwillingness to divert torque to the rear wheels on its first attempt. It

fared slightly better on its second and third attempts. Meantime, the CR-V had virtually no trouble, and neither did the CX-5. What does this prove? Well, apart from the CR-V’s return to form, it showed which vehicles were most willing to adapt to the challenging conditions, whether it was changing direction at speed or a standing start with the wheels turned. Dave Coleman, development engineer at Mazda North American Operations, summed up Mazda’s iACTIV AWD system like this: “We want to make the car move so intuitively you don’t need to think too much about how you drive. “We know if it’s cold, if it’s raining because the wipers are on, if you’re on an incline, we can

directly measure traction too. We measure steering angle, brake pressure, throttle. “We take all this data and calculate 200 times per second what’s happening and we can come up with a precise torque split [to maximise traction].” CONCLUSION Coleman professes that “the goal for AWD is to take the same dynamics for dry pavement and have it on slippery surfaces, or low-grip surfaces.” That may be true on a wet road, and it’s fair to say the CX-5 was controllable on snow, but the frontend doesn’t bite into corners like it does on dry asphalt. Clearly there’s still a long way to go in this respect, and perhaps it will

take electric cars – with a motor in each wheel – and more advanced tyre technology to deliver drysurface levels of grip on low-friction surfaces like ice and snow. Of course, there’s also the question of a level playing field, as there is with any comparison test against competitor vehicles staged by a car-maker, Mazda said all the cars were standard, but we – and Honda and Subaru – have no way of knowing for sure. Nevertheless, one thing is certain. Mazda’s part-time AWD system – as seen in the CX-3, CX-5 and, soon, the new CX-9 — is remarkably effective and, at least in the conditions we tested it, showed its most direct rivals a very clean pair of heels..


REVIEW 07 JUL 2016



ar companies sometimes tell fibs by heating up yesterday's models, adding new bumpers or headlights and calling the result a "brand new" vehicle. The Mazda CX-9 is not one of those. The largest vehicle in the Mazda fleet has been comprehensively reworked to make it more relevant to today's families, bringing the sevenseater into line with the successful CX-3 and CX-5 duo. Mazda developed the new model by tailgating SUV-loving Californian families to see exactly how people use their cars, replicating their routes and driving styles to understand


what people want from a modern family wagon. Engineers also spoke with past and present customers in the US and Australia before going back to the drawing board. The result is a car that couldn't be mistaken for anything but a Mazda. The CX-9's style gels nicely with the brand's current lineup, wearing the "Kodo" design treatment so comfortably it could be mistaken for other members of the family, albeit with some noticeable styling evolution. Under the skin, a new chassis adopts Mazda's "Skyactiv" series of weight-saving and eco-conscious

measures that help save around 100 kilograms. Its overall length is shorter than before, but the wheelbase is 55mm longer to lend more cabin space in the first two rows. The redesigned body with shorter overhangs translates to a slightly smaller boot that now offers 810 litres of cargo room with the third row folded, or 230 litres with it in place. There's also slightly less legroom in the child-friendly third row, though redesigned chairs give back-row occupants more kneeroom and space for their feet. Engineers attempted to address

Mazda's widely reported road noise issues by stuffing nearly four times as much insulation under the floor, while also working to trim wind noise with new glass and seals. But the biggest change is under the bonnet, where the CX-9 dropped its old 3.7-litre V6 engine in favour of a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol model. As before, there is no diesel option, but Mazda says that won't hurt sales. The new engine makes less power on paper than the V6, offering 170kW compared with the old model's 204kW output. But that's not the whole story, as the new car's 420Nm of torque at 2000rpm easily outguns the discontinued car's 367Nm at 4250pm, offering more accessible performance in the part of the power band SUV drivers use. As with the previous CX-9, the new model is only available with a six-speed automatic transmission and a choice of front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. The new car is impressively efficient, using fuel-saving start-stop and energy harvesting i-Eloop systems to sip a claimed 8.4-litres per 100km of fuel for front-wheel-drive models – well less than the 11L/100km of its

predecessor while undercutting the 10.2L/100km of its key rival, Toyota's V6-powered Kluger. It's also more affordable than before, with an entry point of $42,490 that makes it a $1280 cheaper proposition. The base CX-9 Sport features 18-inch wheels, LED headlamps, three-zone climate control, a seven-inch touchscreen with six speakers and internet apps such as Pandora, a reversing camera, sat nav, blind spot warning system and rear parking sensors as standard kit. All-wheel-drive traction is a $4000 option across the range. The mid-grade Touring models add leather trim, a nicer touchscreen and more gadgets while buyers with

$57,390 to spend can get hold of a CX-9 GT that adds 20-inch wheels, smart keys, a quality digital driver display, sunroof, 12-speaker Bose stereo and front parking sensors. The top of the range CX-9 Azami costs $59,390 in front-wheel-drive form, featuring all of the above plus radar cruise control, adaptive LED headlights and driver aids such as lane keeping assistance and smart brake support. The cabin feels much more modern than its predecessor, with an excellent driving position and spacious, premium feel to highergrade models that should attract around half of the CX-9's customers in its first year on sale.



2016 MAZDA CX-9 PRICING AND SPECIFICATIONS ON SALE July 2016 We tested the CX-9 in two-wheeldrive and all-wheel-drive form on a grey Melbourne day that brought plenty of rain. While the twowheel-drive layout should prove adequate for most drivers, it didn't shine on slick and bumpy roads that challenged the car's traction levels. It is easy to induce wheel spin with Mazda's torquey new motor, which easily calls traction control into service to cut power and keep everything tidy. The result is that the front-drive CX-9 is frustrating on slippery surfaces, while the all-wheeldrive model powers on with ease. Two-wheel-drive customers are also likely to notice a decent dollop of torque steer that tugs at the steering wheel under full throttle, and both models are affected by bump steer that twists the tiller in your hands over imperfections. The all-wheel-drive model is a better bet on the road, using its


on-demand system to shift drive rearward when required. While you usually feel a touch of front wheelspin before it really brings the rear into play, Mazda says the system will pre-emptively adopt an all-wheel-drive layout by looking at factors such as ambient temperature, G-forces and whether the windscreen wipers are in use to determine whether it should drive the rear axle before slip occurs. Mazda's new engine is a quiet and effortless gem, and it's possible to exceed its fuel economy claims without trying - we returned 9.6L/100km in a spirited run in the all-wheel-drive car before a regular cruise in the two-wheel-drive model returned 8.3L/100km on the road. The brand's efforts to make the wagon quieter seem to have worked well, with significantly less road and wind noise making its way into the cabin.

PRICE From $42,490 to $63,390 plus on-road costs ENGINES 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol POWER 170kW at 5000rpm TORQUE 420Nm at 2000rpm TRANSMISSION Six-speed auto, front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive FUEL USE 8.4L/100km (FWD), 8.8L/100km (AWD)

The result is that the new CX-9 feels far more accomplished than its predecessor. Mazda is confident that it will be much more popular than the previous model, giving Australian families even more choice in the ever-growing SUV market.

AUG 2016 Wheels, National

Mazda CX-9


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Style-savvy seven-seater wraps first SkyActiv turbo engine



Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale

Mazda CX-9 Azami AWD 2488cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo 170kW @ 5000rpm 420Nm @ 2000rpm 6-speed automatic 1924kg 8.5sec (estimated) 8.8L/100km $63,390 Now




As A rule, purely functional seven-seaters are a snooze-fest. space-hungry families requiring a third row are often forced to choose between lacklustre high-riders and the coma-inducing boredom of owning a people-mover. Driving either is like an early night on New Year’s Eve – there’s a lot you’re missing out on. Mazda is taking aim at the status quo, its all-new CX-9 loaded in the chamber. And the car’s second coming injects a welcome dose of design flair to a large-sUV segment dominated by the dowdy and drab. It is almost a decade since its

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predecessor launched, and CX-9 is now an entirely grown-up and genuinely interesting proposition, still majoring in practicality and providing an image-conscious choice for more discerning buyers. It’s also cheaper, lighter (by as much as 162kg), thriftier, quieter and is available in a broader range than before. For 2016 the line-up consists of sport ($42,490), Touring ($48,490), GT ($57,390) and Azami ($59,390), and for the first time Mazda is making all-wheel drive available on them all as a $4000 option. That means a new CX-9 sport AWD costs a full $10K less than the cheapest AWD of the previous generation.

It’s quite a big change, then, and we haven’t even mentioned the 2.5-litre turbocharged fourcylinder centrepiece. This engine is the first to couple Mazda’s skyActiv engineering philosophy with forced induction, producing outputs of 170kW and 420Nm. Fuel economy is where it excels, sipping 8.4L/100km in FWD models, and 8.8L/100km in AWDs. That’s markedly down from the 11.0-11.3L/100km of the outgoing 3.7-litre V6. The turbo-petrol four-pot is the only engine available. Its 34kW deficit to the silky V6 it replaces is made up for by the effectiveness and delivery of its

extra 53Nm. Adding a turbo hasn’t muffled the four pot’s vocal nature, with a harsh edge to its note that can be intrusive at higher revs. Thankfully, the full force of its torque is available from a low 2000rpm so there’s little need to approach the redline. Even before the CX-9 has turned a wheel, it’s ahead of its competitors in terms of showroom sizzle. In topspec Azami trim, with an LED headlight package and larger

D , turbo

01 02 03

GO TO THE SOURCE Starting over for the second generation allowed Mazda to make big strides in cabin comfort. New approach to lowering NVH minimised the number of noise sources to begin with, rather than leaving engineers to mask them.

AUSSIE FEEDBACK Mazda involved Aussies in development from day one, visiting local customers in their homes to study the way they use their cars. CX-9 packaging is well considered and legitimately useful as a result.

FIVE-STAR SAFETY CX-9 is armed to the teeth with safety tech. Every variant gets six airbags, blind-spot monitoring, auto braking, brake-force distribution and crosstraffic alert. Azami adds lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist.

@wheelsaustralia 49


Moving forward Under the bonnet is where the CX-9 moves the game forward most. The skyActiv-G 2.5T is remarkably strong in the low-to-mid rev range, even for a turbo. Technology called Dynamic Pressure Turbo reroutes exhaust gases at low rpm to virtually eliminate turbo lag and give smooth, linear throttle response. Efficiency is its other strong suit. The ‘i-stop’ engine shutoff and ‘i-Eloop’ energy recovery system were added at Mazda Australia’s request; the local arm wanted its biggest and most expensive model to have all available technology.

Engine note; dull brakes; demanding steering

20-inch alloys, the CX-9 bridges the gap between the current crop of humdrum seven-seaters (we’re looking at you Toyota Kluger and Holden Captiva) and even more upmarket offerings such as the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7. Up front, a squinty gaze and huge chrome grille form the latest and most striking incarnation of Mazda’s Kodo design language. The sheer size of the CX-9’s dramatic bodywork verges on imposing, yet it retains handsome proportions and an athletic form that when studied closely reveals a level of subtlety and attention to fine detail rivalling more premium brands. It’s even better inside. The front half of the cabin is a refined composition of textural materials and elegant styling. Mazda has deliberately created a feeling of separation from the

PluS & minuS

styling elegance; fuel efficiency; practical packaging

two rows behind. Its hushed and well-equipped interior houses a full suite of safety technology as standard (see breakout). Only the base model misses out on leather trim and the larger, dashtopmounted touchscreen. smarter packaging has created more room inside by pushing each wheel further toward the corners of the stretched CX-5 platform. The wheelbase is 55mm longer than the old CX-9’s, though the body is 31mm shorter at 5075mm. Boot space is a useable 230 litres with the third-row seats deployed, rising to 810 litres when they’re not, and a mighty 1641 litres with the second and third rows stowed. Passengers in the nosebleeds miss out on third-row vents, but won’t feel short-changed thanks to great visibility through generous window apertures, while head-room and legroom is

CX-9’s athletic form reveals a level of subtlety and attention to detail

accommodating enough to host adults for short trips. The CX-9’s ride shows initial polish. Mazda’s trustworthy dynamic competency is felt in its well-controlled tautness, though the 1.9-tonne wagon can’t disguise its heft when thumping over sharper deviations. Braking lacks bite at the top of the pedal travel, and asks for more input than expected even in stop-start city traffic. A weighty steering tune requires a fussy amount of wheelwork at times, and that makes the car seem big. U-turns feel similar to the orbit of a small moon, requiring some 11.8 metres of road – almost a full metre more than the Hyundai santa Fe. These are the difficulties faced by cars of this size, and in its class the CX-9 strikes a favourable balance between ride and handling. Mazda has fired a bullet into the customary blandness of seven-seater load-luggers and delivered an sUV that extends beyond the mundane task of putting bums on seats. Hiroshima has cracked the code. RYAN LEWIS

Or TrY THEsE...

Toyota Kluger Grande $49,490

Cuts a roomy and functional figure in the seven-seater segment, though no longer made in Japan and lacks stimulating features. Its 201kW/337Nm 3.5-litre V6 sounds good and goes well, but used some 13.3L/100km on our last road test.

Kia Sorento Platinum $55,990

Showcases Korea’s modern-day engineering nous. Won our five-way seven-seater comparo last year thanks to attractive looks, interior ambiance and equipment level. Punchy 147kW/441Nm diesel makes it the choice if oiler is a must.



REVIEW 10 JUL 2016




igger and better than ever. This phrase applies to pretty much every new generation of car that arrives, but bigger isn’t always better. The all-new second-generation Mazda CX-9 is one model that bucks this trend by letting its intended function define its size, rather than simply getting bigger to offer more room than the competition. It may be 19mm taller and 63mm wider than the TB model it replaces after nine years on the market, but unlike every other recent new model in the large seven-seat segment, the new TC CX-9 is actually 31mm shorter. Unreserved praise is deserved for being the first large SUV to offer

AEB as standard, with the key crash avoidance tech not only covering the front of the car but also the rear. Being the first CX-9 to have the Mazda SkyActiv wand waved over it makes it almost certainly better in every other regard, with the one remaining question mark hovering over the switch from a grunty V6 engine to a new efficiency-focused four cylinder turbo. DESIGN You may think the CX-9’s intended function is simply to offer more room for its seven passengers than before, but if everyone marched to that drum, we’d all be driving huge people movers in no time.

Based on extensive ‘real-world’ analysis of seven-seat SUV users in its two largest markets, North America and Australia, chief engineer Masashi Otsuka explains that the new model’s front two rows of seats have been designed to suit anyone between a-150cm tall Japanese adult female to a 99th percentile German. So the seat adjustment, mirrors, major controls and all climate and multimedia buttons should cater to anyone from short to, well, quite tall. The third row on the other hand, has deliberately only been designed to suit passengers up to 170cm in height (or small adults), with 94mm less shoulder room and 69mm less

2016 MAZDA CX-9 SPECIFICATIONS PRICE $42,490 to $63,390 plus on-roads WARRANTY 3 years/unlimited km SERVICE INTERVALS 12 months/10,000km

legroom than before, but with 19mm more hip room and now there’s actual toe space beneath the second row. With these passenger upper limits defined, Otsuka-san explains that the next priority was occupant visibility. Evidence of this can be seen in the door mounted side mirrors, which create a visibility gap between the A-pillar and the mirror on each side, along with the relatively flat windowline and slim D-pillars. The next design priority was occupant access, where a 55mm longer 2930mm wheelbase has allowed a longer rear door to make climbing aboard easier. The mechanisms for sliding the second row have been weighted to allow small children to operate them, and the 40 section of the second row will slide forward to give access to the third row even with a child seat in place. Impressively this 40 section has also been Australianised, placing it on the left hand side to prioritise third row access from the left side

of the road, further from traffic. The gap created when the second row is slid forward is about on par with the Kluger and Sorento competition, but the CX-9 deserves extra brownie points for adding grab holes to the side trims to make it easier to climb in and out of the third row. It’s worth noting that while the new CX-9 is shorter than the model it replaces, it continues to be the longest of its direct rivals, topping the Pathfinder by 67mm, the Kluger by 207mm, the Sorento by 295mm and the Santa Fe by 375mm. Clever use of high strength steel has helped keep the kerb weight pretty close to a Falcon or Commodore sedan however, with the two-wheel drive models spanning 1845-1858kg across the four trim levels, and all-wheel drive versions add another 66kg. The drivetrain was the next design consideration, with the new turbo 2.5-litre engine differing little in its packaging requirements compared with

SAFETY 5 STARS ENGINE 2.5-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol, 170kW/420Nm TRANSMISSION 6-speed auto; FWD/AWD FUEL CONSUMPTION Fuel consumption DIMENSIONS 5075mm (L), 1969mm (W), 1747mm (H), 2930mm (WB) WEIGHT 1845kg to 1924kg SPARE TYRE Space-saver TOW RATING 2000kg (ball weight 100kg)



WHAT WE LIKE Standard safety gear Improved refinement Advances Mazda Kodo design WHAT WE DON’T No under boot floor bins No CarPlay or Android Auto for otherwise excellent MZD interface

the existing petrol and diesel SkyActiv engines, and is paired with the same six-speed auto, and scaled up version of the suspension and drive components used by the CX-5. Holding all these elements together is a new thicker floorpan that helps crash protection and cabin refinement, and will form the basis for the next generation of Mazda passenger models. Also helping to address NVH criticism of other SkyActive-era Mazdas is an extra 17kg of insulation under the carpet, double-glazed acoustic glass for the front half of the cabin, and extra seals. Mazda specifically targeted noises that could interfere with the frequencies associated with voice patterns to make conversation more comfortable at speed.


Otsuka-san explained that the design aesthetics came only after all of these functional elements were defined, and the fact that the new CX-9 is far from a boring box on wheels is a credit to the design team. The looks continue the Kodo evolution that has so far spanned CX-5, 6, 3, 2, CX-3 and MX-5, with sharper, straighter lines and dramatic details that retain an elegance suited to the CX-9’s role as Mazda’s flagship model. The interior is also an evolution of existing models, with a nice variety of shapes, textures and colours, even on the entry Sport grade. Mazda’s disciplined approach to interior packaging has helped the CX-9 retain a curved and tapered roofline, which has helped improve the aerodynamic drag coefficient by nine per cent to help fuel efficiency. The new Machine Grey paint seen on the Azami in these pictures is a new premium colour to sit alongside Soul red in the palette, and has only been used elsewhere to date on the MX-5 RF showcar revealed in Detroit in January.

PRACTICALITY There’s more to meeting the needs of modern families than just seating them comfortably, and the CX-9 scores well on the outright practicality front. One particular highlight is that it’s the first of its direct rivals to offer a child seat anchorage point in the third row. It may be a top-tether, but it means you can legally carry a total of four child seats at once. Helping this are three top-tether mounts across the second row, but only two ISOFIX mounts due to the split-fold and slide mechanism. Each row of seats gets two cupholders, plus bottle holders in each door. All versions get one 12V power socket up front accompanied by twin USB ports, plus a second 12V point in the cargo area, and all bar the Sport getting a further two USB ports in the second row armrest. The top GT and Azami trim levels get retractable sunshades to cover the rear door side glass. Cargo space is actually reduced compared with the previous model

with 230-litres VDA with the third row up and 810-litres VDA with the third row folded, representing 37 and 118-litre drops respectively. It still compares well with the 142 and 605-litre VDA figures offered by the Sorento, and better again than the Kluger which only lists a 529-litre VDA third-row folded figure. The second and third rows now fold flat to create a huge space that’s easy to load, with simple mechanisms for folding and unfolding. One apparent shortfall is the lack of third row ventilation control or specific vents, but Otsuka-san explains this was a deliberate choice based on the effectiveness of the second row vents versus the complexity and space compromise of running ducts and controls all the way back to the third row. Owners of the original CX-9 will be pleased to see the shopping bag hooks return to the cargo area, but lament the loss of dedicated underfloor storage with the space saver spare wheel moving above the floorpan.

The new model is rated to tow a maximum of 2000kg in either two or four-wheel drive guise, with a maximum towball download of 100kg. Ground clearance is a useful 222mm, which puts the CX-9 at least 70mm ahead of the smaller CX-5. PRICE AND FEATURES Despite all its improvements, the new CX-9 kicks of $1280 cheaper than the model it replaces, with the entry Sport listing at $42,490 for the two-wheel drive version. All wheel drive is available on all four CX-9 trim levels for an extra $4000, but spec levels are otherwise the same across drive types. The CX-9 Sport comes standard with front and rear auto emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, a 7-inch multimedia screen with the excellent MZD Connect system, sat nav and reversing camera, rear parking sensors with cross traffic alerts, three zone climate control, auto dimming rearview mirror, LED headlights and 18-inch alloys.

The CX-9 Touring starts $6400 higher at $48,890 and adds black leather trim with heated and electric front seats, an 8-inch multimedia screen, second row armrest storage with 2x USB ports, auto headlights and wipers and front fog lights. The CX-9 GT kicks off at $8500 more than the Touring at $57,390, but adds a choice of black or beige leather, DAB+ digital radio, 12 speaker Bose audio, memory driver's seat, a heads-up display for the driver, retractable rear window sunshades, height-adjustable power tailgate, proximity unlocking, front parking sensors, sunroof and 20inch alloys. The CX-9 Azami is the new top trim level in the seven-seater line up, and starts $2000 more than the GT at $59,390. Beyond the GT, the Azami gets active cruise control, active headlights with auto high beams, LED daytime running lights, driver attention alert, lane departure warning, lane guidance, forward collision alert, and front AEB that operates at speeds up to 160km/h. It’s worth noting that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are yet to be integrated into the MZD Connect multimedia system, but Mazda is looking to do so in future. ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION The new CX-9 is the first SkyActivera Mazda to use a turbocharged petrol engine, dropping from the previous model’s gutsy but thirsty 3.7-litre V6 to a boosted version of the 2.5-litre four already used by the 3, 6 and CX-5. Fuel efficiency is the key motivation behind the shift, and the extra weight of the CX-9’s larger body has forced Mazda to ditch its previous no-turbo-for-petrol policy. Rather than simply strapping on a turbo and hoping for the best, the integration of the turbo has



been carefully designed around the general usage of CX-9 drivers and delivering real-world fuel efficiency benefits beyond its lab-generated official figures. This effort is reflected in its output figures of 170kW and 420Nm of torque. For a 2.5-litre engine, this looks more like a combination of petrol power and diesel torque, and promises enough power for overtaking, with the low down urge characteristics of a diesel with maximum torque on tap from 2000rpm. Mazda boasts that the new engine can overtake as well in sixth gear as well as the old V6 could in fifth gear between 60-160km/h. There’s also more torque between 1000-4000rpm, which is where users spend most of their driving time. Unlike the 2.2-litre SkyActiv diesel engine, the CX-9 unit uses just one single scroll turbocharger, but uses a flow control valve to reroute the exhaust at low rpm to promote fast initial spooling – a bit like putting your thumb on a garden hose to shoot water further. A more compact version of the non-turbo 2.5’s 4-3-1 extractor exhaust manifold is also used to make use of unused combustion pressure. Mazda has also employed an air-to-water cooled exhaust gas recirculation system to help reduce inlet temperature. This is a costly measure that only improves fuel consumption in the real world under high-load conditions, reinforcing the pledge to offer impressive economy beyond the lab-controlled official combined figures. The CX-9 engine uses the same 89mm bore and 100mm stroke as the regular petrol 2.5, but drops the compression ratio from 13:1 to 10.5:1. This is still quite high for a turbo,


which makes the fact that it does its best on Regular 91RON unleaded fuel even more impressive. Mazda engineers admit that the engine will produce 186kW when fuelled by more expensive 98RON, but make no more torque and deliver the same fuel consumption. There is no plan for a diesel version of the new CX-9, and despite the 2.2-litre turbodiesel being a logical fit in the big SUV’s engine bay, Mazda expects the petrol engine’s efficiency and running costs will quell any diesel demand. This approach aligns with Toyota’s petrol-only policy for the top-selling Kluger, but contrasts with the likes of the Santa Fe and Sorento which are around 70 per cent diesel in Australia. Australia is the only CX-9 market that gets stop/start and i-Eloop energy recovery fitted, and all models are paired with the same sixspeed torque converter automatic used throughout the range. All-wheel drive versions also use the same i-Activ system as the

CX-3 and CX-5, which combines 27 different sensors to predict weather and terrain conditions and alter its drive behaviour to suit. Mazda predicts that 55 per cent of CX-9s sold in Australia will be the cheaper two-wheel drive, however. FUEL CONSUMPTION The official result of this clever engine development are combined fuel consumption figures of 8.4L/100km for two-wheel drive CX-9s, and 8.8L/100km for all-wheel drive versions. The two-wheel drive figure is a full 24 per cent better than the old V6 equivalent, and the engine has been optimised to run on Regular 91RON unleaded. Two-wheel drive models get a 72-litre fuel tank that should enable a theoretical range of about 857km, while all-wheel drive models counteract their extra weight and friction with a two-litre larger tank to eek out about 880km. After 400km of testing under various conditions, we saw an

impressive 11.1L/100km on the trip computer. Sitting at a steady highway cruise, you’ll do much better. DRIVING We had high hopes for the new CX-9. The Ford Territory has never been toppled from its perch as the dynamic benchmark for large SUVs in this price bracket, and the Kia Sorento has risen to become top cocky for just about every other measure. The prospect of a CX-9 with SkyActiv thinking has all the makings to knock both of their perches. Ladies and gentlemen, it doesn’t disappoint. Even in base Sport trim, Mazda’s efforts to improve refinement are very clear, bringing a quietness and ride comfort that would likely trouble a few premium-branded models costing north of $100,000. You can feel the GT and Touring’s shallower-sidewalled tyres over sharper bumps, but you can tell they’ve been tuned to compensate and still do a very good job of keeping their occupants comfortable.

The steering isn’t as razor sharp as the smaller tyred SkyActiv models like the 2 or MX-5, but still probably sets a new benchmark for the class. Yes, even better than the Territory that’s just three months from unfortunate extinction. The new engine may be 34kW short of the old V6’s peak output, but you wouldn’t know it unless you’re absolutely wringing its neck. Mazda’s graphs don’t lie, it feels stronger everywhere it counts. As always, the auto tends to hold taller gears for longer than ideal in the name of efficiency, but you can call on a far livelier shift map at the flick of a switch into Sport mode. As with the 2 and petrol CX-3, this Sport mode does make an appreciable difference. The Yokohama Geolander tyres fitted to two-wheel drive models seemed to keep the traction control busy in the wet conditions during our test, but the Falkens fitted to the all-wheel drivers were more assuring. It could be the tyres or it could be the all-wheel drive

system, but the latter did a better job in the wet. SAFETY All new CX-9s have been rated with a maximum five star ANCAP rating. The highlight safety features are front and rear AEB and blindspot monitoring across the range, airbags that include the third row of seats, and the top-spec Azami scores extended front AEB that will brake automatically at speeds up to 160km/h. OWNERSHIP The CX-9 is covered by the same three year, unlimited kilometre warranty as the rest of the Mazda passenger car range, with the same usage-based capped price servicing. Mazda's Australian website requires a VIN to calculate service pricing, but a call to your local Mazda dealer will clarify things. VERDICT The new CX-9 is a class act. It may not offer the roomiest third row of its class, but it didn’t set out to. The interior is otherwise as versatile as we could hope for, and the drivetrain has succeeded in matching its intended purpose. No diesel, who cares? It’s a very comfortable way to cover long distances and offers the value, safety and refinement to make it a new segment benchmark. We’d argue that the Touring is the sweet spot of the range, bringing the leather trim and bigger multimedia screen but still riding on the more plush 18-inch tyres and sneaking in under $50,000 in two-wheel drive form. The new CX-9 may not be bigger, but it is certainly better.


REVIEW 09 APR 2016 Geelong Advertiser, Geelong VIC



he latest addition to the MX-5 family embodies the model’s 26-year-old tradition of “lots of fun”. While keeping the original MX-5 retractable hardtop’s goal of making open-top driving more accessible, Mazda has taken matters


a step further to create something entirely new. The MX-5 RF features FASTBACK styling with a smooth roofline that slopes down to the rear end, and its rear roof and retractable back window offer a new open-air feeling. The power roof can be opened or closed at speeds of up to 10km/h with the press of a button, and the roof is stowed compactly and efficiently in a limited space. Despite its fastback styling and hardtop roof, the MX-5 RF offers the same amount of boots space as the soft-top model.

In Australia, the model will feature the SKYACTIV-G 2.0 petrol engine in six-speed manual and auto transmissions. Through the MX-5, Mazda offers more people the pleasure of open-top driving that many enrich their lives.

MAY 2016 Qantas Magazine, National


REVIEW 23 APR 2016 Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin, Gold Coast





ard or soft? Metal or fabric? Open or closed? The 2016 World Car of the Year – Mazda’s pert and very pretty MX-5 roadster – will soon be available with a choice in roofs for the great outdoors. The 1.5 litre and two-litre MX-5s with soft tops are already here. To the end of March, it was the best-ever start to a year in Australia with 516 of the twoseaters heading out of showrooms across the country. These are great cars with character and athletic dynamics plus the choice of two engines, two transmissions and two trim levels. Among MX-5 highlights is the ability of this relatively light machine to handle buckled and broken

bitumen in comfort without upsetting steering, brakes or roadholding. This makes it a great tourer – top down please – in southeast Queensland where the flow of a country road may be great but the road surface most ordinary. This latest MX-5 is a joy to drive. It looks good, inside and out. It handles with a sharpness and confidence that belies the $31,990 starting price. Sure, it’s not much good for getting a tribe to football practice, driving the sands of Stradbroke Island or towing a caravan up the M1. But the fourth-generation MX-5, like those before it, brings back the delights of motoring. Now Mazda has added fresh brushstrokes to this picture with the

debut of the Mazda MX-5 RF at the New York International Auto Show. The RF – for Retractable Fastback – will offer similar drivetrain and trim options as the MX-5 convertible. But the fold-away metal roof means more than just different material to cover the Mazda’s cabin from rain, hail or shine; it brings a new style to the roadster. And chief designer Masashi Nakayama hopes the MX-5 RF will further the car’s appeal. “I wanted to introduce the fun of driving a lightweight sports car to a broader audience, and it was my love for the Mazda MX-5 that gave birth to the design of the new MX-5 RF,” Mr Nakayama said. The designer’s biggest task was to turn this version of

the fourth-generation MX-5 into a faux-fastback, not just a convertible with a hardtop. He hopes the result will surprise a wide variety of people. Mazda expects MX-5 RF drivers will spend more time with the tin roof closed. Yet it’s apparently a fairy slick, flip-of-a-switch operation to open or fold the roof away even at speeds up to 10km/h. And even when the roof is stowed behind the seats there’s the same amount of boot space as in the soft-top version. There’s been some suspension and steering tweaks to the RF to account for a touch more body weight and while it has the same footprint as the soft top it stands 5mm taller.

Australia can expect to see the Mazda MX-5 RF early next year with the two litre engine and choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. So there is now even more dilemma around here as to which MX-5 would be the Lotto car … but we think it could be the RF. It solves the issue of whether to look at a 1.5 litre or two-litre roadster. But auto or manual?



REVIEW 08 APR 2016 Border Mail, Albury-Wodonga



he Mazda MX-5 has become a modern automotive icon thanks to its unfiltered focus on fun and back-to-basics open-top mantra. Unfortunately, the world’s most popular roadster lost some of that in the previous generation, which ended its lifecycle tagged as a ‘‘hairdresser’s’’ machine thanks to putting on a few kilos as it was only offered with a folding metal roof and an equally chunky price tag. In light of a rejuvenated batch of affordable sports cars such as the Toyota86/ Subaru BRZ twins and a host of $40k-odd hot hatches, Mazda has rekindled the spirit of the original in its latest-generation MX-5 while also updating it with a raft of modern conveniences and making it more affordable. The formula for the MX-5 has remained true for more than 25


years and the new fourth-generation ND model retains the same fundamental two-seater roadster philosophy. Yet, where most cars have generally increased in size and weight over the years as a result of encroaching safety requirements and demand for more mod cons and luxury appointments, Mazda has made the new MX-5 smaller than the original in a bid to keep its weight down to just over 1000kg. A key part of that weight savings is the development of a smaller, lighter 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine. But American customers also demanded Mazda retain the more powerful 2.0-litre. While they only get the big engine and Mazda in Japan offers just the smaller one, uniquely for Australians – and for the first time in the car’s

history – that means we have a choice of two engines locally. The wider model range, and softtop-only body style (for now), has allowed Mazda Australia to cut the entry ticket into the MX-5 by around $15k with prices starting at $31,990 (plus on-road costs) for the basic 1.5-litre Roadster when fitted with a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is a$2000 option across the range, the 2.0-litre engine commands a $2500 premium and the flagship GT specification is $6000 more, which means the range-topping 2.0-litre GT Roadster automatic we’re testing here costs $41,550 (plus on-road costs). Even in its most basic configuration, the MX-5 is fitted with push-button start, cruise control, LED headlamps, cruise control, tyrepressure monitor, four airbags and,

for the first time, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity. The GT specification adds heated leather seats, climate control, keyless entry, LED daytime-running lamps, rain-sensing wipers and a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen with integrated sat nav and a premium nine-speaker Bose audio system. Apart from the engine, 1.5-litre models run on 16-inch alloy wheels while 2.0-litre variants feature 17-inch alloys with slightly wider tyres. All MX-5 models are covered by a three-year/unlimited-kilometre

warranty and lifetime servicing with intervals set at every 10,000km. The MX-5 has always been focused more on driving thrills than luxury frills, but the new model brings a level of convenience that hasn’t been seen before in the baby roadster. While the car is smaller than even the first generation, Mazda claims to have liberated a little more space inside the two-seater cabin. While it is big enough for most to sit comfortably in the low-slung and snug seats, larger folk will feel cramped and taller drivers will either be rubbing their bonce on the roof or peering directly into the sun visors. The MX-5 has always been about open-air motoring and in that regard the manual soft-top is a cinch to operate in either direction. The rev-happy nature is still there and it needs to be revved hard to get

the best from it, as both outputs are produced fairly high in the rev range. The fourth-generation roadster is just as good – if not better – than the original with pin-sharp steering and sublimely balanced chassis dynamics that provide sure-footed yet playful handling and make driving through the bends thoroughly enjoyable – even if it’s not all that fast. An MX-5 with an automatic transmission still brings up connotations of a hairdresser’s sports car, but that’s not the case anymore. While purists will opt for the more affordable manual as the default choice – and real enthusiasts will enjoy working the fizzier 1.5-litre more – the self-shifter fits well with the larger engine and doesn’t detract from the roadster’s charm as much as it has done in previous generations.

NUTS AND BOLTS MAZDA MX-5 PRICE $41,550 (plus on-road costs) ENGINE 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol. POWER 118kW at 6000rpm. TORQUE 200Nm at 4600rpm.


REVIEW AUG 2016 4 X 4 Australia, National



f you hung around after the fast cars finished at the Finke Desert Race, you might have seen our friends from across the hall at Wheels magazine finish the gruelling race in a near-stock Mazda BT-50. This was the same car we used in our ute test in the January 2016 issue. Since then, part-time 4X4 Australia contributor Toby Hagon has been driving it around. Race preparation was limited to the essentials, as the Mazda team wanted to keep the car as standard as possible and prove that it could conquer Australia’s toughest two-day


off-road race. Toyo tyres, race seats and harnesses, a rollcage, shocks and brake pads were the only changes. Finishing the two-day, 452km event with the car in one piece – and within the allotted maximum time of four hours and 15 minutes each day – seemed a lofty goal. So the fact Hagon and co-driver Bernie Webb not only made the finish line but crossed it in second place in the Production Class, in a time of 7:55.32, seems little short of a miracle. How tough was it? Well, some old hands with more than a dozen years’ experience were claiming this

year’s course was the gnarliest they’d seen. Out of 127 trucks and buggies entered, just 64 finished. And out of those 127 entries, only the Mazda was driven to the starting line with a rego sticker on the window – the rest were trucked in. Finishing was no walk in the park, though, with the shocks melting and failing on day one, and the BT-50 crawling over the line with the distance-to-empty reading just “4km”. Toby just managed to extract himself from the rollcage – a sight that looked not unlike a baby elephant passing through the

eye of a needle – before requiring medical assistance. It was more than 10 minutes before he could even attempt to walk. “I’m not kidding when I say I can’t believe that thing made it; there were some big hits. The ball joint has hit the inside of the wheel arch and the chassis has hit the turbo protector and put a ding in it, and even the metal toolbox in the back has dents in it from where the tools hit the lid. Just incredible,” a hugely grinning Hagon said at the finish line. “The thing that mentally killed me yesterday was just how unrelenting it was. There’s a section in the second half where the bumps just go on and on, one after another, but today I knew it was going to get better.” Navigator Bernie Webb added: “It was just brutal. I’ve had some big crashes in my time and I can honestly say, hopping out of the car yesterday, I felt like I’d had a 130km/h rollover, it was that bad.” The satisfaction for Webb and

Hagon and the whole team was not just in finishing, and finishing well – their time was more than three minutes faster than the fourthplaced truck in their category – but in proving their many, many doubters wrong. “That car has stood up incredibly well,” Hagon said. “I’ve never seen a car brutalised in that way, and to have it still here and driving is beyond impressive.”


REVIEW 08 JUN 2016



ith updated versions for 2016, Mazda BT-50 and Ford Ranger utes continue to chip away at Hilux’s supremacy in the Australian ute market. Of those, the dual-cab models rule the roost when it comes to options for buyers looking for roomy family-friendly SUVs with what closely approximates car-like ride and handling. But, for buyers in need of less cabin space and more room in the tray, a goodvalue, multi-purpose ute – such as the 2016 Mazda BT-50 XTR 4x4 Freestyle Cab – should not be ignored. The new XTR 4x4 Freestyle Cab – $49,675, up from $48,890 – offers a practical and appealing solution


to those in need of a workhorse for actual work and/or a tough truck capable of handling weekend warrior duties, loaded with camping gear and mountain-bikes. DESIGN The previous version of the BT-50 copped flak because of its looks – specifically, the front end. Mazda has reined in that divisive appearance. The new BT-50 has a straighter front grille and – along with re-designed lights at the front and rear, and 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels (our XTR had 17s) – it looks cool and more at home wherever it goes. Now, you don’t have to buy

a bull bar to hide the front end; you can buy a bull bar because you actually need one. The XTR’s look is topped off with chrome door handles, chrome power mirror, aluminium-finish side steps and chrome rear-step bumper. It has a neat but workmanlike interior: cloth seats, plastic, carpet – you get the idea. Nice interior touches include leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob. I like the inside of the XTR; some fussier people won’t. There are power windows and mirrors, dual-zone climate control, USB, Bluetooth connectivity, 12V points (front and rear) and more.

“THERE IS PLENTY OF ROOM INSIDE: AS WELL AS A REAL FEELING OF STRETCH-YOURLEGS SPACE FOR DRIVER AND FRONT PASSENGER.” There is plenty of room inside: as well as a real feeling of stretchyour-legs space for driver and front passenger, there is a generous amount of storage spaces for bits and pieces upfront, in the doors and under the rear bench-style seats, which are removeable. Front seats are broad and supportive and fine for long journeys; the rear seats are – as in most Extra, King or Super Cab utes – really only for short jaunts. With no rear passengers in there, the rear of the cabin can be

used to house more gear, a bonus for two-up tourers or workers looking for extra room for their equipment. When opened, the two front doors and two rear panels – there is no fixed B pillar – providing easy access to the cabin. ABOUT TOWN The Freestyle Cab is, of course, ute big – 5365mm (L), 1850mm (W) 1810mm (H), 3220mm (WB) and weighs 2105kg – but it doesn’t feel like it when you drive it, even through

cluttered traffic on city streets. Modern utes are getting too damn good at this around-town stuff for their own good. The rack-and-pinion steering is weighted supremely well for a ute, and is light and precise. ‘ The 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel, producing 147kW/470Nm, is a real goer and has plenty of punch for fast, safe overtaking in urban scenarios. What’s more, it’s matched well with a cool-as-a-cucumber sixspeed auto. Eight-speed autos in utes



VERDICT The BT-50 Freestyle Cab is no slouch in the hard-work – or having fun – department. It’s awesome to drive, there’s room aplenty for this type of ute and it’s pretty good value for money. For tradies or touring couples with no rug rats along for the ride, this ute is well worth considering.

have got their fans, but six is spot-on in this. The auto box offers normal and performance mode in auto, or you can drive it in manual mode. Normal mode is stress-free and smooth, but performance mode yields more immediate acceleration. The BT-50 has a five-star ANCAP rating. As well as airbags – front, side and curtain – you’d expect in a modern vehicle of this kind, there’s a raft of active safety tech: ABS, dynamic stability control, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution, emergency brake assist, emergency stop signal and more. One bug-bear with the safety tech about town: the reversing camera image is small and shows up on the left-hand side of the rear-view mirror, not on the centre console screen, which is annoying.


ON THE ROAD Take-off is a swift, smooth affair and open-road driving is a comfortable cruise. The auto holds gears when needed and smartly cycles through, up or down, when required; there are no clunky kick-downs on hills. The BT-50 has wishbone suspension at the front; rigid axle and leaf springs at the back. For a ute, it rides and handles nicely. No surprise, the back-end gets a touch jittery without a load. Mazda reckons that steps have been taken to further suppress noise, vibration and harshness over the previous generation but, with the radio off, we copped a fair bit of engine clatter and wing-mirror noise. No deal-breaker, though. A bonus for tradies and tourers: the tray – 1847mm long and

WHAT WE LIKE All-round drivability Heaps of room WHAT WE DON’T Reversing camera image in rearview mirror

SPECIFICATIONS PRICE FROM From $49,675 FUEL CONSUMPTION 235g/km CO2 Tank 80L 1560mm wide in Freestyle Cab – is almost 30cm longer than the dualcab’s (1549mm). So, there’s plenty of room in there for work tools, or camping and fishing gear, mountainbikes and more. It’s rated to tow 3.5 tonne or handle payloads of up to 1310kg. Trailer sway control is a safety feature. Claimed fuel consumption is 9.4L/100km. OFF THE ROAD drove a range of 2016 BT-50s in the South Australian outback last year, so we know any of the range can pretty much go anywhere you point them. They are that good – “So is every other modern ute at that price!” I hear you shout – but the difference here is that the BT-50 does it all with ease and in sublime comfort.

Switching from 2WD to high-range 4WD, via a centre-console dial, can be done on the fly, and we only switch to low-range when the going, intentionally, gets really tough. Off-road tech includes Hill Launch Assist, Hill Descent Control, (4x4 only) and Locking Rear Differential (4x4 Only). While we didn’t have a chance to test its maximum wading depth (800mm), the Freestyle Cab got through every other challenge without stress. The new centre-console screen takes some getting used to. The 7.8-inch high-definition unit, with built-in satnav, is a touch small for our liking and has a ‘muddy’ look to it at times, including in bright sunshine or dappled light in the bush, which makes on-the-move reference difficult.

SAFETY 5-star ANCAP SEATS 4 WARRANTY 2 years/100,000km SERVICE INTERVAL 12 months/10,000km ENGINE 3.196L turbo 5-cyl diesel, 147kW/470Nm TRANSMISSION 6-spd automatic, 4WD SPARE Full size TURNING CIRCLE 12.4m diameter DIMENSIONS 5365mm (L), 1850mm (W), 1810mm (H)


SKYACTIV Technology Less fuel, less emissions, more Zoom-Zoom

The use of ultra-hightensile steel makes Mazdas even stronger


ike most carmakers, Mazda is working hard to reduce the fuel consumption of its vehicles. This is important to our customers, and to us as a socially and environmentally responsible organisation. Many of our rivals have enthusiastically embraced hybrid drive and batterypowered electric cars, and it should be noted that research and development in these technologies (as well as hydrogen) is also advanced at Mazda. But while hybrid, electric and hydrogen-powered engines may be viable technologies of the future, we also want to have a real impact now. At Mazda we are going about the challenge in a different way. We are investing in research and development to achieve both environmental and performance improvements with existing technology. We believe that a new generation of affordable petrol- and diesel-powered 76

vehicles offer the best solution, at least in the medium-term, to reducing carbon emissions and fuel use. These far more economical cars, sold in volume and replacing older and less efficient vehicles, will do more to cut global fuel consumption and emissions than niche market electric cars or hybrids. By improving the underlying technology, we can deliver consumers optimum fuel economy in real-world driving situations, with reliability superior to more complex or highly stressed engines. This strategy launched SKYACTIV. It’s a comprehensive engineering program shaping a new generation of vehicles striving for significant gains in fuel efficiency and emissions reduction, while staying true to what Mazda customers love – Zoom-Zoom and the emotion of motion. The SKYACTIV-G petrol and SKYACTIV-D diesel engines

introduced breakthrough advances in performance and efficiency. In addition, continuously variable sequential valve timing (dual S-VT) on the intake and exhaust minimised pumping losses and lightweight design reduced engine weight by 10 per cent. The SKYACTIV-D diesel engine benefits from an impressive 14:1 compression ratio (the lowest diesel ratio available and considerably lower than the 16 to 18:1 ratios seen in standard diesel engines). However, Mazda also introduced a variable valve lift for exhaust valves, enabling internal exhaust recirculation, which immediately stabilises combustion after a cold start. It also added a two-stage turbocharger, which delivered strong and steady responsiveness, helping it reach its 5,200 rpm deadline and eliminate ‘turbo lag’. The lighter engine also reduced internal engine friction by 20 per cent.

Developing the ideal automatic transmission saw Mazda focus on improved fuel economy, a direct pedal response, and the ability to shift gears smoothly while delivering reactive acceleration. The SKYACTIV-Drive automatic does all this and more. The new SKYACTIV-Drive automatic transmission combines all the benefits of conventional automatics with those of continuously variable (CVTs) and dual clutch transmissions. It shifts quickly and smoothly and delivers superior fuel economy. At its heart is a newly developed 6-speed torque converter with a full range lock-up clutch for all gears. The clutch lock-up ratio has been raised from 64 per cent with the previous 5-speed AT to 89 per cent of vehicle operation. The SKYACTIV-MT manual transmission is more accurate, lighter, smaller and more efficient, all of which help improve fuel economy. Our engineers also went back to the drawing board to create a SKYACTIVChassis. They wanted a lighter, stronger car, but with extraordinary agility and nimble responsiveness. They achieved just that, ensuring the new generation cars are fun to drive.

Mazda exhaust-cut

WHAT’S NEXT? Having introduced SKYACTIV Technology i-stop, i-ELOOP and a 13:1 compression ratio – all of which contribute to a 30 per cent fuel consumption saving – our goal is to reduce fuel use by an additional 30 per cent. Our technical team is currently working on a world-first: the application of Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) to a petrol engine in a passenger car. The current breed of Mazda vehicles have record compression ratios of 13:1 – increasing this to a stratospheric 18:1 would allow fuel to ignite more completely, without the need of a spark. SAFETY AT THE FOREFRONT Owning a Mazda is not just about driving a stylish, innovative, dynamic car – it’s also about knowing Mazda does everything it can to ensure the driver and passengers are safe. Called Mazda Proactive Safety, the engineering approach takes an active and pre-crash safety focus. Active technology includes systems aimed at reducing the likelihood of accidents, or minimising their severity. These include features like High Beam Control, Hill Launch Assist, Forward Obstruction Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Emergency Signal System and many more. Impressive passive safety is engineered into the SKYACTIV-Body. Increased torsional rigidity, the use of more high-tensile steel, larger cross-sectional B-pillars, three-point seatbelts for all seats and shockabsorbing interior trim all make the newest generation Mazda cars safer than their predecessors. The SKYACTIV-Body for the All-New Mazda3 increases torsional rigidity for the hatchback by 31 per cent over the previous model, and 28 per cent for the sedan. Use of high-tensile steel increases to 60 per cent, up from 50 per cent in the second generation hatch, and

The SKYACTIV Drive 6-speed auto Transmission

51 per cent in the sedan. 980MPa ultra-high-tensile steel is used as reinforcing material for the side walls, and the use of 780MPa high-tensile steel has been increased from four to nine per cent. The X-shaped crush cans built into the front frame have highly efficient energy absorption characteristics to help protect the cabin. The B-pillars’ cross-section is increased over the previous model by 20% toward the cabin, 10% from front to rear. This minimises deformation in the event of a side impact. Their almost straight shape also reduces load transmission loss in a collision. A solid ring structure joins the roof and B-pillars to the underbody, while reinforcements further strengthen the body. The result is a SKYACTIV-Body that efficiently absorbs impact energy from any direction and minimises the chance of cabin deformation. In the latest ANCAP and EuroNCAP tests of Mazda3, Mazda6 and CX-5, the effect of these manufacturing and safety improvements can be seen. All three vehicles were awarded a coveted five-star ANCAP rating, while the latest generation Mazda6 and Mazda3 improved across the key criterion compared to previous models, making them the safest Mazda vehicles ever built. 77


ACCESSORIES Back in black


huzhing up your car is easier to do than ever before thanks to the stylish range of accessories available across the entire Mazda range, but for the ultimate up-spec, it’s hard to go past the Kuroi Sports Pack. Meaning black in Japanese, and also available on Mazda CX-3, Mazda MX-5 and Mazda BT-50, the Kuroi Sports Pack gives your New Mazda3* a striking, more aggressive look. Including 18 inch black alloy wheels, and consisting of stylish black front,

rear under and side under spoilers and black door mirror caps, the parts have been aerodynamically shaped to reduce wind drag. Developed by the same people that created the award-winning ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ design language, this ultimate accessories pack complements the flowing lines of the Mazda3. * This can be fitted on sedan and hatch. Packs vary depending on model and grade.


azda’s reversing camera system allows the driver to keep a close eye on people or items positioned behind them, and helps them squeeze into those tight parking spaces with confidence. A rear camera image is displayed on a stylish replacement 4.3 inch LCD video rear vision mirror that activates automatically when the car is in reverse. The mirror adjusts the intensity of the LCD screen dependent on the outside light

conditions meaning the screen is always visible in bright daylight conditions, and is perfect at night. Located near the vehicle’s rear licence plate, the camera has an extremely wide viewing angle and excels in low light conditions providing the driver with perfect vision anytime, and in any place. The Mazda Genuine Mirror Integrated Parking Camera is available on the Mazda2, Mazda3 and Mazda CX-3 Neo, Mazda MX-5 1.5 litre Roadster and various BT-50 models.

For more details and pricing on all of the Mazda Genuine accessories listed here – and many more - visit your local Mazda Dealership or go to

Maintaining a close eye


Keeping it under wraps


t is perhaps not surprising to hear that the Mazda BT-50 is the most accessorised vehicle in the Mazda range thanks to its on and off road capabilities. Recently re-launched with a range of stylish new additions, Mazda has introduced an updated Canopy that fits perfectly on Dual Cab models. Made from tough ABS plastic, the Canopy allows you to cover your gear securely thanks to a lockable rear door that lifts for easy access. Available with three window variations, the new Canopy features a rear roof spoiler, Mazda BT-50 branding and an improved rear window. Built using the highest quality materials, the Canopy is colour matched to every exterior colour in the BT-50 range. For further information and pricing on all Mazda Genuine accessories go to or visit your local Mazda Dealership.


That’s entertainment


azda’s newest accessory, and available on all vehicles with a back seat in the Mazda range, is the Rear Seat Entertainment Holder for iPad®. Easily positioned on the back of the front seats, the Mazda Genuine iPad® Holder* will keep kids and passengers endlessly entertained on the road. With the ability to rotate 90° in either direction for landscape or portrait positioning, passengers can view and use their iPad more

comfortably, and its bump-resistant design ensures the iPad remains in a secure position no matter how rough the driving conditions. For added convenience, an easy-lift feature ensures the iPad can be quickly and easily transferred from the vehicle. * Includes iPad cradle, screen protector and dual USB charger and is compatible with iPad generations one to four and iPad Air.

ACCESSORIES Stow away cargo area and easily adapts to items of different shapes and sizes. The Mazda Genuine Cargo Organiser Box, which features moveable interior dividers, exterior mesh pockets, detachable lids, a secure base and sturdy handles, also keeps everything firmly in place. To protect your rear bumper and boot lip from scratches and scuffs, Mazda also offers a Boot Lip Protector. These accessories are designed to fit the entire range, except for Mazda BT-50 and Mazda MX-5.

A shining light


very Mazda6 needs a little lip if you want to sport it up a tad. In motor racing, a big rear wing adds downforce and grip. While Mazda’s Rear Lip Spoiler is not designed for that, it will certainly enhance the stylish design of your Mazda6 sedan. Maintaining the rear-end focus, on those dark nights when you’ve decided to be proactive and do the grocery shopping, illuminate the boot as you unload with Mazda Genuine Cargo Lighting. Keeping everything well lit in your Mazda6 and BrandNew Mazda CX-9, thanks to the additional LED lights, means you’ll never leave things behind again. * The Rear Lip Spoiler is not designed for a Mazda6 wagon.

Rack ‘em up


or those who enjoy everything that the great outdoors has to offer, and where cycling or mountain biking is top of the list on an active weekend, Mazda’s Bike Rack fits perfectly to your vehicle* to ensure your prized – and sometimes expensive – possession is easily transported to your favourite destination. Allowing you to free up interior space for other cargo, the Mazda Genuine Bike Rack

comes in Wheel On (pictured) or Wheel Off variants. Mounted to roof racks, the Wheel On option allows you to simply lock your bike into place, while the Wheel Off version requires you to remove the front wheel. Whatever suits your needs best when it comes to bike transportation, Mazda has got it covered. * Available on all Mazda vehicles except Mazda BT-50, Mazda MX-5 and Mazda2.

For more details and pricing on all of the Mazda Genuine accessories listed here – and many more - visit your local Mazda Dealership or go to


large family-sized SUV gives you plenty of rear storage space, so to keep everything in its place, and to protect your Brand-New Mazda CX-9, Mazda offers a range of smart genuine accessories. Designed to fit perfectly into the rear compartment, the Mazda Cargo Tray protects the carpet from dirt, scratches and spills. Keeping your belongings secure and to prevent loose items from sliding around on the road, the Mazda Cargo Net attaches to defined mounting points in the





he world changes considerably from era to era. What we thought was ‘cool as’ in the 1970s is looked upon with daggy disdain now. This is certainly the case when it comes to clothing and haircuts, but generally, even now, enthusiasts look back at previous generations of cars like a proud parent whose sibling can do no wrong. Before the introduction of the SUV, passenger cars ruled the highways and driveways. 20 years ago large and medium sized cars enjoyed a sales duopoly, but now they aren’t as appreciated for what they have to offer – which is considerable. Mazda6 has ruled the roost when it comes to medium-sized imported passenger cars under $60,000, enjoying the number one sales position in Australia for 13 of the last 14 years. With Mazda6 enjoying a stylish update only recently, media still regard this “uber stylish and premium-like” car as the best


option of its type in a competitive sales segment. The Mazda6 family has a long and proud history, going back to the mid-1960s when the 1500 arrived, spelling the start of Mazda’s interest in passenger cars. Looking back, it was described as “roomy, elegant, and easy to see why the Mazda 1500 sedan is the perfect choice for motorists the world over”. It was a lovely car that set the scene for the future. In 1968 at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Mazda 1800 made its international debut. The 1800 was the Brand’s luxury model sedan and made its way to Australia for the ‘Japan-Australia: Goodwill Caravan’ event. Designed to enhance the friendly relationship between the two countries, the 1800 and the 1500 were driven up the east coast of Australia from Brisbane through to Adelaide over 21 days, stopping regularly to showcase Japanese culture to a country that was both diverse and continuing to develop. With the 1500 no longer in production, by 1970 the Capella – or the Mazda RX-2 – was on sale. This car filled the gap between the Familia and the Luce. Like the 1500 and the 1800, it was available with four doors and earned the nickname “Kaze no Capella” or “Capella the wind” thanks to its 190km/h top speed. The

advertising tagline at the time was “A strong car beautifully put together”; it proved its strength winning its class at the 1971 version of the Bathurst 1000. In production for many years, by 1978 the Capella name disappeared and was rebadged as a 626 in-line with the smaller 323 and the larger 929. Rising interest in mid-sized cars with sporty performance and handling meant that this appealed to a whole new segment of buyers. The 626 enjoyed Euro styling, was spacious, had a functional interior and was “exhilarating” to drive. As it developed generation by generation, it ended up winning two Wheels Car of the Year awards – in 1983 and 1992. And so Mazda’s medium sized passenger car journey rolled on into the new millennium, when the Mazda6 made its debut. Imbued with Mazda’s ZoomZoom DNA, the Mazda6 focused on driving performance, design, quality, packaging and safety, and aimed to set a new standard for driving performance and enjoyment. Nailing the brief, the Mazda6 is now into its third generation – and features the full suite of i-ACTIVSENSE safety technology, SKYACTIV technology and the award winning ‘KODO-Soul of Motion’ design language. When you look back at Mazda medium-sized passenger car range, regardless of the generation, it’s impossible not to sit back and look on with fervent admiration. They have certainly stood the test of time, and are still very worthy of consideration.

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