Car mon­i­tors dan­gers for drivers

Kapi-Mana News - - MOTORING -

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.

Granted,

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.

Rob Maet­zig re­ports from the New Zealand launch.

The new Mazda6 is ca­pa­ble of ac­tively look­ing out for trou­ble in an elec­tronic ef­fort to keep those aboard safe.

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