The ‘zoom’ is back
Mazda introduces the CX-5 crossover, new 3 sedan and hatchbackBy Jason K. Ang
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Mazda has one of the more enthusiast-oriented lineups in the local car market, but it has been a while since it has taken the wraps off a new model. When it rains, it pours—and now Mazda is launching two new models in five variants: the all-new CX-5 crossover in manual and automatic; and the new Mazda3 as 1.6-liter sedan and hatchback, and 2.0-liter sedan.
The CX-5 is a showcase for two of Mazda’s new developments: its fuel-efficient Skyactiv engine and transmission technology, and its new styling language called Kodo-Soul of Motion (in appropriately catchy Japan English).
The Skyactiv-G 2.0 liter gasoline engine in the CX-5 uses direct injection, and an extremely high compression ratio of 14:1 to boost torque and fuel economy. To prevent the knocking that may be caused by the high compression, the CX-5 has a 4-2-1 exhaust manifold to reduce buildup of high-temperature residual gas in the combustion chamber. Skyactiv does not require premium fuel and can run fine on lower-octane, although 95 octane is recommended. Bottom line is that the CX-5 reportedly provides 15 percent more torque and 15 percent better fuel economy than a comparable-size gasoline engine. The engine outputs 162 horsepower and 210 Nm.
The Skyactiv is paired with six-speed transmissions, either a quick-shifting manual or an automatic. The manual reportedly has the slick feel of the MX-5 sports car’s shifter, while the automatic features lock-up nearly throughout its range to improve fuel economy. Drive goes to the front wheels only.
As for styling, always a Mazda strong suit, the CX-5 embodies its new Kodo design theme. This means a prominent pentagonal grille underscored by wing-shaped form, prominent rear fenders, and plentiful crease lines in the side. It’s best seen in profile, where you can see the CX-5’s pugilist’s jaw leading to the flowing lines of the side body, and on to the high rear deck. The roofline and wheelbase, relatively tall and long for its class, contribute to the impression of heft and size.
Inside, the CX-5 has ample room for four passengers. The driver’s chair, as expected, is positioned perfectly for driving, with a tilt-telescoping steering wheel. The high dashboard contains a high-mounted audio unit that also controls some vehicle convenience functions such as lights and door locks. The trademark Mazda orange pictogram for the air con has been moved to the center of the dash, just above the controls for the dual-zone air conditioning.
Piano black trim
The piano black trim that Mazda has been using to pleasing effect in the 6 and CX-7 is also present on the CX-5’s dash.
On the road, with three and a half men on board, the CX-5 accelerates briskly. The Skyactiv 6-speed does shift quickly and smoothly. There are no shift paddles, but the shifter can be shunted to a gate nearer the driver to allow for manual shifting. What sets the CX-5 apart from a horde of similar-sized crossovers is the Mazda trademark steering-quick and responsive. This gives the CX-5 a remarkably sporty feel when cornering.
As for safety, the CX-5 has four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and traction control. Front, side, and curtain airbags are standard. The CX-5 manual is at P1.392 million, and the automatic at P1.452 million.
The car that embodied Mazda’s new approach to motoring, the potential corny but actually appropriate “Zoom-zoom” was the Mazda3. That was back in 2004, so the new model couldn’t have come sooner. Even as it was exiting, the first-generation 3 looked up-to-date (at least the exterior still does). The new 3 has the family look of the 6 and CX-7. It has cycle fenders arcing back from the headlamps and a big Joker grin. The chiseled line that extends from the front door to the rear haunches and roofline contributes to making the 3 once again the best-looking car in its class. As before, a sexier hatchback is in the lineup.
The engines are essentially carryover units: the 1.6-liter DOHC, 16-valve generating 103hp and the 2.0 giving 145hp. The 1.6 liter sedan and hatchback make do with four-speed automatics, while the 2.0 is upgraded to a five-speed automatic.
The 1.6 is still perfectly adequate for everyday motoring. It may not have the kick expected from a 1.8 or 2.0 engine, but the smaller displacement will likely pay off at the pump. We drove the 1.6V automatic along Mazda’s course within Fort Bonifacio during launch weekend. The sporty drive feel engineered so perfectly into the original 3 is thankfully intact. The ride is firm while still being comfortable and quiet.
The 3 1.6V sedan retails for P999,000. With bigger wheels and feature such as rain-sensing wipers, the 1.6V hatchback is a little dearer, at P1.099 million, and the top-line 2.0R sedan is at P1.299 million.
Lest the public have forgotten about the rest of the lineup, from the cheeky 2 to the MX-5 convertible to the large 6 and CX-9 SUV, Mazda showcased them all at the NBC tent last weekend. Mazda’s Zoom is back in two of the most popular segments in the passenger car market.
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