BRIAN BASSETT goes to lunch in the Mazda 6
THE Mazda car company is headquartered in Hiroshima, Japan and is named for the supreme, transcendental god of the Zoroastrian faith, possibly the oldest religion in the world.
In South Africa the brand has suffered several years of low sales and profile while embedded with Ford.
Now that the brands are sold separate, Mazda’s nine dealers in KZN are filling their floors with a series of distinctive models and a brand image which is continuing to grow its independence and reputation.
I was delighted when Faisal Hoosen, the new vehicle sales manager at Barloworld Mazda suggested that I drive the thirdgeneration Mazda 6, 2.5 Dynamic Auto for a few days, a pleasurable experience for both the Fatpack (who paid for lunch) and I.
I have used the word “distinctive” many times, but to date I have not used the word “beautiful”. This is indeed the word to use when describing the Mazda 6. It is in my view one of the best looking cars currently available in South Africa.
Mazda designers have created a striking piece of machinery which at the front has design elements of the Aston Martin.
It has the typical Mazda pentagonal grille and a broad bonnet with distinctive light clusters and fog lights built into the front bumper.
The rear projects a wedged body and prominent rear fender with rear light clusters almost mobile in their forward sweep.
The boot lid has a clever Swan hinge which allows easy access to the storage area.
Mazda describe their design philosophy as “Kodo” or Soul of Motion.
This has created a car which deserves to be parked outside a large, historic, multimillion rand home in a suburb like Constantia in Cape Town, flanked by mature oak trees and framed by white, fluted gate pillars.
If it’s that good a design, think of what it will do for your image when you park at a mall in the city.
The interior is spacious and of excellent quality.
Polished aluminium and softtouch plastics cover most of the hard-working areas and leather is used on the electrically-adjustable, sporty, wrap-around, memory controlled seats and multifunction, fully-adjustable steering wheel, which deals effectively with the Bose six-speaker surround sound system. It also handles the Bluetooth, auxilaries, and MP3 players.
The instrument panel has been laid out horizontally and is neat and simple to ease vision, as well as hand and arm movements for the driver.
The space for legs and elbows is particularly impressive.
I took the Fatpack to lunch at Rawdon’s on Saturday.
None of these gentlemen has grown any smaller since last they drove with me and yet the five of us were comfortable and the car performed well with extra weight on board.
The air-conditioning system has a useful automatic function and the three portly gentlemen in the rear reported that they benefited almost immediately from the cool air.
The luggage space is quite sufficient for a family of four, delivering 438 litres with the rear seats up and, should you want to sleep in the car, around twice that with the rear seats folded down.
The Mazda 6 has 21 elements installed to ensure your safety- too many to name here.
They vary from seatbelts, through ABS with EBD, side-impact bars, six front side and curtain airbags and Dynamic stability Control to child restraints and a central locking and alarm system. So it is as safe as possible and an ideal family car.
Performance and handling
Despite having no turbo, the Mazda 6’s four-cylinder, 2,5-litre engine makes 138 kW and 250 Nm, putting the power on the tar via a six-speed auto gearbox.
Top speed is over 200 km/h and the car will take you from zero to100 km/h in around nine seconds.
Driven thus with the Fat Pack, fuel consumption was 8,9 litres per 100 km and no doubt a lighter load and foot will improve this number a lot.
In and around the city the Mazda 6 is one of the easiest and most pleasant cars I have driven. The steering is light and yet you remain in direct contact with the road.
Front and rear parking sensors makes it easy to pakr and on the N3 it purrs along at a quiet 120 km/h, with acceleration to higher speeds present- ing little problem. On the notorious Midlands D-Roads this large saloon treated rough surfaces with disdain and I always felt in control, even at higher speeds.
The car is, however, so comfortable and the driving experience so laid back, that you do not feel it necessary to speed.
The cost of comfort and style
The entry-level, two-litre Active will cost you around R350 000. The 2,5-litre Dynamic Auto will set you back around R380 000, while the 2,2 DE Atenza, which I hope to review at a later stage, costs R435 000.
All models come with a threeyear, unlimited warranty, as well as a service plan and roadside assistance. Service intervals are every 15 000 km.
Mazda said the 6 is aimed at the German truimvirate, but when it comes to asking less for more the 6 is up against stiff competition from the Honda Accord, Peugeot 508 and Volvo S60.
“It is in my view one of the best looking cars currently available in South Africa”