Car monitors dangers for drivers
Driving along Auckland’s southern motorway in a new third- generation Mazda6 recently was a new-age experience.
As I cruised that stretch of highway with traffic all around me, my 2.5-litre Limited model almost came alive.
I had activated the cruise control, which uses radar to monitor the vehicle ahead and controlsboth the accelerator and the brakes to adjust speed and maintain a safe following distance. Mazda calls it Driving Support.
At the same time the car has a series of other systems called Hazard Recognition Support. They include blind spot monitoring, which detects the presence of other vehicles in the vicinity and alerts me by flashing an LED icon on the left or right wing mirror.
And whenever I indicated to change lanes, the same system beeped me to warn I would be doing it within seven metres of the vehicle behind.
The Mazda6 Limited also boasts a lane departure warning system which issues an audible alert if I’m about to stray from my lane, the warning coming from an audio system speaker on the same side as the lane I’m straying towards.
Not only that, but this Mazda6 carries a forward obstruction warning system to monitor vehicles in front and alert me if I’m approaching too quickly, giving me sufficient time to either brake or take evasive action.
I didn’t need the system as I negotiated my way through the busy Auckland motorway traffic. But if I had received the warning and had done nothing about it, even though my approach speed was 15kmh or more, then another last- resort system would have jumped into action – smart brake support, there to reduce the severity of a collision by automatically hitting the brakes.
All in a mass-market Japanese front-drive sedan.
It was an excellent illustration of the tremendous safety advances the motor industry in general is making.
all this electronic safety equipment is standard only on the top Limited models of the new Mazda6 range, which retail for as much as $60,795, but it is there all the same.
And the further big news about this new model is that the entire range, from entry model GLX sedans and wagons up through the GSX and on to the Limited, features all of Mazda’s SkyActiv technologies.
Mazda New Zealand managing director Andrew Clearwater said this made the new Mazda6 the highest quality, safest, most fuel efficient, emissions friendly and most driver interactive vehicle the Hiroshima- based company has ever developed.
I remember a few years ago I visited Japan as a guest of Mazda and introduced to the company’s plans to extract the best out of the ordinary internal combustion engine by developing various engine, powertrain and weightsaving technologies that all came under the name SkyActiv – as in the sky is the limit.
The overall plan was to reduce average fuel consumption by 30 per cent, which would also have an associated reduction in exhaust emissions.
SkyActiv is now being progressively introduced right through the model range and with this new Mazda6 the fuel consumption has been lowered by an average 20 per cent.
The new model features a brand-new SkyActiv-G 2.5-litre petrol engine, the largest and most powerful SkyActiv engine to date.
A direct-injection engine with an exceptionally high compression ratio of 13 to one using 91 octane petrol, it is designed to offer excellent low to mid-range torque yet an average fuel economy of just 6.6 L/100km.
This is despite the fact it has 10.4 per cent more power and 10.6 per cent more torque than the engine it replaces.
Long in the nose and with Mazda’s distinctive Kodo exterior design features, its cabin has been set back 100mm compared to the model it replaces, and the wheelbase has been increased by 105mm, to help give it a sleek look.
Interior feels spacious and is comfortable, and standard features on all models include reversing camera, Bluetooth hands- free connectivity, pushstart ignition, air conditioning, automatic engine stop when stationary, and a host of safety features including traction control, stability control, hill launch assist, and emergency brake assist.
The new Mazda6 is capable of actively looking out for trouble in an electronic effort to keep those aboard safe.