Travel Torque: New Mazda magic comes with nearly a century of history

2017-05-18 12:39

I’ve always been a bit of a history-head so when I attend car launches, before googling specs and performance, you’ll often catch me surfing the back story on the brand.

On the recent launch of the fully redesigned new Mazda CX-5, between doing slalom challenges on the skid pan at Gerotek and taking the powerfully agile SUV out on the road, I did a bit of car excavation on my iPad for some interesting facts.

Along with Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Suzuki, Mazda is one of the top five Japanese automakers.

Founded by owner Jujiro Matsuda, the company was first established in 1920 as the East Sea Cork Manufacturing Company in Hiroshima.

By 1927 the company had expanded into producing machine tools. In 1931 an unusual three wheeled truck went into production, and so began the company’s fruitful entry into the manufacture of motor vehicles. Mazda’s name is clearly inspired by its founder Jujiro Matsuda as well as Ahura Mazda, the Iranian-Zoroastrian god of wisdom.

In 1945 Hiroshima was tragically destroyed by the American atom bomb. Although the factory was far enough out of the city to remain intact, more than 400 employees were killed.

In the 1960s Mazda teamed up with German firm NSU Wankel to develop and manufacture the famous rotary engine. Way ahead of its time, the pistonless engine catapulted the company into motorsport success. In 1970,25 years after the destruction of Hiroshima, the Japanese manufacturer expanded its operations into the US with much success.

In 1972 Henry Ford flew to Hiroshima in an attempt to negotiate a licence that would allow the Ford Motor Company to begin building rotary engines. Matsuda initially refused but five years later he relented and, between 1979 and 2010, Ford and Mazda enjoyed almost three decades of a fruitful partnership.

Armed with a head full of history it was time to get present and drive the new CX-5, sleeker and sportier in looks than its highly successful bestselling predecessor which locally sold an average of 350 units a month.

Behind the wheel it’s clear why the CX-5 is Mazda’s global flagship – it’s an SUV that brilliantly combines design and technology and is simply a dream to drive.

Plus there’s a whole range to choose from in the new powertrain line-up that will hit local showrooms from 1 June. The three engine options are the Skyactiv-G 2.0L and 2.5L petrol engines as well as the Skyactiv-D 2.2L Diesel engine. All 2.0L engine derivatives are available in both the manual and automatic transmissions while the Dynamic derivative now comes in a hugest impressive automatic option.

There’s plenty of updated features on the new CX-5 which include eye catching LED head and front fog lamps on the entry level Active petrol derivative.

On the mid-range Dynamic model, sexy 19” alloy wheels, leather seats as well as an 8-way power adjustable lumber support driver seat are on offer. The top-of-the-range Individual model has a banging 10 speaker BOSE system, as well as a heads-up display, powerlift tail gate and high tech advanced safety features like the Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) and Driver Attention Alert (DAA).

4 stars

For decades Mazda has been all about combining driver safety and comfort.This ethos is brilliantly showcased in the new CX-5’s innovative software-based system – Skyactiv-Vehicle Dynamics vehicle motion control technologies, aptly named G-Vectoring Control, which controls body roll for better handling.

Significant improvements in suspension and powertrain work together to make the CX-5 an agile and powerful ride, which we got to experience firsthand on the skidpans at Gerotek.

There is no denying that Mazda is producing some of the best overall product around. The new CX-5 is the crowning SUV glory while the nippy Mazda 2 hatchback, the compact crossover impressive CX-3, and one of my favourite double cabs of 2017, the beefy BT-50 – all make the Mazda range simply magic.


Mazda CX-5 2.0L Active FWD Manual – From R379,900 (including VAT)

Melinda Ferguson
Motoring journalist
City Press
p:0117139001  e:
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February 25 2018