31 March 2019

A Month of Mazda

Mazda Month 2017 July-ish or somewhere there…

Two years ago I was privileged to be given a Mazda a week for a month. And just recently I’ve been thinking how much I enjoyed that month… so here’s a recap. Don’t bother searching the original reviews, they’ve been relegated to the mists of time. Enjoy these recollections knowing these vehicles still exist...

The guys at Mazda really stepped up to the plate with their press vehicles… We got them in order as follows: A Mazda 2 (full house diesel that disappeared in dust alone), a Mazda 3 sedan (classy and probably my overall 1st choice), a CX-3 (mid-range SUV, probably my least favorite, but then I was comparing it to some outstanding choices… so not really anything to do with the vehicle itself), a CX-5 (marketed as the flagship, and clearly best value for money in its class at the time), and lastly my favorite of the family, the BT-50 (a thoroughbred).

When you design an old favorite meal from scratch, you don’t use just salt or a store-bought mash up for flavor; you do it properly. When writing a story, you don’t start with, “It was a dark and stormy night”… You just don’t. When Mazda redesigned their style, they introduced the then new “Kodo design philosophy”. It is a well thought, well executed example of redesign going right. Kodo emanated through the whole family from the Mazda “M” in the grill to the interior styling. It was like riding in the belly of the dragon, and being the knight in control! I won’t lie: it may have had a little to do with how I wrote my Washie blog and chose my Insta handle… Design and power.

So… to the cars: and first up was the Mazda2 DE Hazumi 1.5 – Auto. It is lighter than its predecessor, and stronger; more fuel efficient, but faster. It has a 5-star Euro-NCAP grading; brilliant for a B-segment vehicle. To show this, I did an 808km round trip on a cold winter day bumping over the rough roads of the Eastern Cape… and it was comfortable and cheap; 5.4l/100km. All I had to do was think about overtaking slower vehicles and suddenly I was in front of them as if the wizardry of knight’s tales is engineered in this powertrain. The Hazumi was fun, and if you know how to “drive” then you wouldn’t be disappointed with this hatch getting you places quickly (just don’t get caught doing it) and as a trend-setter. Oh, and the 950 liters of loading space with the seats down mean you can get the whole entertainment system to the party… we literally tested this out by packing in a monster TV, sound system, and a trolley full of party goodies from the local hyperstore).

On to the Mazda3 2.0 Astina Auto for the next week. This vehicle had me overachieving on my image with a trip to the Plett Wine Route, a lesser known class act vehicle taking to the lesser known class act vineyards… Game, set, match. I mentioned this vehicle would probably have been my choice of the 5, and this is true for very practical reasons. Ask me what is most memorable, and I’ll tell you: “the whole shebang, but not one single thing springs to mind". After the Mazda 2, it didn’t lack power or space or class or strength or economy or anything. It was only toward the end of the week that I realized that the WHOLE package was that good; so nothing stood out. The Astina caught glances and got conversations going with its attracting design. If it wasn’t for the insistent voice of the sat-nav we would have caught some flack from the local law; I’m still grateful for that irritating wench… and of course we fitted a substantial amount of liquor into that boot which we had to keep safe on the way back. Overall it is a great ride for far too many reasons… and would suit me very well!

To me the CX-3 serves Mazda well. It fits nicely into the smaller-SUV gap. It is a “developing world” vehicle that says we’re growing, believe in our success, can handle all the potholes life throws at us and do it with integrity, ingenuity and class. The ride height and ground clearance speak to this precisely. From a comfort, power, strength, design and safety perspective it was everything we had come to expect from Mazda having driven the previous two vehicles. So what did I do to test out this baby dragon? I went to the airport to visit an anti-poaching helicopter to test out the sound-proofing of these babies (click the link to try and listen!) (They wouldn’t allow me on to the tarmac to race a plane taking off… so the next best thing was!) This is an outstanding little lifestyle vehicle and richly deserving of the brand.

"The big-daddy SUV Mazda CX-5 was the best value in its class, no doubt". This was the off-the-record consensus of a few car critics I’d spoken to at the time (no names mentioned, and I believe it is far enough after the fact to say it here!). And I had no doubt either: Rand for rand there was nothing on the market that could beat this vehicle. What would suit it for a challenge, though? The Washie 100. Mazda has a rich history and many of its “ancient” vehicles are still running today; the brand goes the long run. The Washie 100 is the longest running 100 mile foot race on the road in the world. And that year we were supporting a friend… 5 big fellows in an SUV running all night and all day. A full tank of gas was more than enough to get us through (700+km), keeping the guys in the vehicle warm with enough space to spread out all the food, clothes and other crap runners think they need! And there was a bicycle on top… just in case we needed it. We didn’t. The CX-5 offered everything the CX-3 did plus space. It really was a memorable week (and weekend) with that vehicle. And to boot, 2 friends have bought them since and still love them 2 years later...

Lastly we got into the Mazda BT-50. I am a sucker for charity, and the fact that Mazda had sponsored these vehicles for years to some favorite wildlife charities meant I already had a soft spot for them! Add the modern accouterments and we had my favorite Mazda of all. Height, comfort, power out of the 2.2l engine, space, and the practicality of a bakkie (aka ute)… what more could a man want. My wife loved it, too… as long as she didn’t have to drive this monster; but it really did drive like a car. It didn’t fit under our covered parking at home, or in our styled-entrance garage, but if I bought this vehicle, I don't think she would have minded being parked outside in our yard showing off her lines and innate power. The most spectacular place I had the privilege of parking this cultured beast was on the table top at the local moto-cross track (don’t tell them ;) ). The Impossible Made Possible was a slogan on the wall alongside the BT-50’s spot on the sales floor… it really seems that the only place this vehicle couldn’t go was fully submerged in water! My friends said they “can see (me) in this”. I still can… It is stylish and hardworking, thrifty with long legs.  

Thank you for reading... Happy driving! Remember, you can RAZE A BAR (the impossible made possible).

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