Zoom­ing back

BRIAN BAS­SETT goes to lunch in the Mazda 6

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

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.

Styling

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.

In­te­rior

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.

Safety

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”

PHOTO: MAZDA

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