Mazda has launched its new fleet focused large SUV – the new CX-8 – simultaneously announcing a not insignificant refresh of the Mazda6 line, and the introduction of some new engine tech for the long-serving fleet ‘fave’, the CX-5.
The big question many might be asking right now is: what is the thinking behind the CX8? There’s already a CX-5 and a CX-9… do we need the CX-8? And the answer to that is “yes” as far as Mazda New Zealand is concerned. According to Mazda New Zealand managing director David Hodge, Mazda CX-8 will be a very popular addition to the company’s SUV line-up. “We believe it will appeal to private buyers, but we also envisage fleets will find it an attractive proposition for those looking for an efficient and versatile vehicle that is equally at home around town or on the open road.” While the once Japanese-domestic-model-only CX-8 nominally fits in between the slightly smaller CX-5 and the slightly larger CX-9, it presents a slightly different business direction for Mazda New Zealand, which is bringing in the next generation SKYACTIV-D diesel technology into the brand’s passenger line. This flies in the face of many other manufacturers focused on downsizing petrol engines and using forced induction – turbo and superchargers – to make up the consumer-perceived power shortfall of smaller displacement engines or who are opting to go down the electric/hybrid vehicle superhighway. Despite referencing the parent company’s collaboration with Toyota and Denso in the field of EV development, Mazda NZ suggests the electric vehicle is not yet the solution it could be. That’s not to say it won’t be in the future, but for now, there is a ‘big picture’ global issue which affects the mass uptake of EVS, according to Mazda New Zealand. Most countries don’t share New Zealand’s alternative power generation ability, often relying on coal to generate power – which you’d need more of obviously, if your national fleet had a meaningful number of EV’S. The environmental costs far outweigh the benefits. To use a pollutant energy source to power eco-friendly vehicles does seem akin to ordering a super-sized family-meal from a fast food franchise and specifying a diet fizzy drink. Diesel, while it may be considered a satanic fluid by many – especially in Europe, which has taken a rather draconian approach in some cities, actually banning the stuff – comes about through the refining of petrol anyway – which we still need to use – so why not ‘upcycle it?’ If, as an automaker, you are OK
developing cleaner burning engine technology to minimise diesel’s pollutive nature and maximise its power potential – as Mazda is clearly doing – what’s the problem? And this brings us back to Mazda’s allencompassing SKYACTIV efficiency model. SKYACTIV brings technology together from three specific areas of any given vehicle: the engine, the transmission and the overall chassis and body construction. Refinement across all of these areas optimises the overall performance of the vehicle in keeping with Mazda’s design ethos of the vehicle becoming one with the driver, the end result being an efficient and holistic harmonisation of vehicle technology, which could be called greater than the sum of its parts. All of which sounds very poetic but happens to be manifestly obvious to anyone who has ever driven a Mazda and thought there is something a little different about this car. For those of a more down-to-earth disposition, Mazda’s SKYACTIV engine tech is possibly the most obvious place to quantify the concept. SKYACTIV-D then – a 2.2 litre diesel engine – has been developed to make the most of diesel’s potential as a fuel and is available across the CX-8’S three-model range, in fact it is the only game in town for this vehicle. Very simplistically, it uses new fuel injectors, improved combustion processes and variable geometry turbocharging to make it cleaner, more refined and well, more petrol-like, to drive. To help cement the CX-8 into the existing Mazda family, a SKYACTIV-D engine has found its way into the CX-5 line-up which also welcomes the SKYACTIV-G 2.5 litre petrol engine, introduced on the redesigned Mazda6. Confused? It's actually pretty simple: