More Magic from Mazda MX-5

September 20th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

The iconic Mazda MX-5 is being upgraded with a number of new stylish features and we’ve got one coming in December (which we’re quite excited about).

Mazda New Zealand Managing Director, Andrew Clearwater says, “The Mazda team have been careful not to change the cars’ DNA that has impressed so many kiwi motorists since the MX-5 was first launched in New Zealand 23 years ago.”

“Its popularity here and abroad has resulted in the MX-5 securing a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for becoming the best-selling two-seater sports car in the world.”

“The changes we have made will make the driving experience even more enjoyable. New Zealanders love to put the top down for the great kiwi road trip and there’s no better car to experience it in than the MX-5,” says Clearwater.

The soft-top, with glass rear windscreen, remains one of the easiest opening and closing convertible roofs. The electric folding hard-top on the coupe takes only 12 seconds to open or close and continues to be one of the fastest in the market. In addition, the roof retracts into a separate area so it does not encroach on any boot space.

From September the MX-5 will see some functional design alterations, which include the reshaping of the front bumper, changes to the fog lamps and bezel surrounds along with a redesigned front grill.

A new exterior colour is added to the range with Dolphin Grey replacing the Metropolitan Grey of the previous MX-5 models. The facelift continues through to the luxury interior which has had a glossy dark grey garnish applied to the dashboard decoration panel, steering wheel and shift lever.

Mechanical upgrades have also been made to the MX-5 six speed manual models which have been fitted with a sportier throttle tuning. The upgrade will deliver more power and smoother handling. Retractable hard top owners will see upgraded dark gun metallic wheels, black headlamp bezel and a glossy dark grey garnish applied to the roll bars.

The new look MX-5 will be available in New Zealand in October 2012.

New Mazda CX-9 World Premiere at Australian International Motor Show

September 18th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Mazda will hold the world premiere of the refreshed Mazda CX-9 crossover SUV at the 2012 Australian International Motor Show.

Held in Sydney, the 2012 Australian International Motor Show begins October 18 and runs through to October 28, 2012. The 2013 CX-9 will be launched in New Zealand later this year.

Mazda CX-9 is an All-Wheel Drive crossover sport-utility SUV featuring a distinctive sporty appearance, a high-quality cabin, the flexibility of three-rows of seating, and Mazda’s exciting “Zoom-Zoom” driving dynamics. The current CX-9 has sold over 210,000 units* in 74 countries, including North America, Australia and New Zealand, as Mazda’s range-topping SUV.

Andrew Clearwater Managing Director Mazda New Zealand believes the new CX-9 will build on the popularity created by the previous model first launched in New Zealand in 2011.

“The CX-9 has proven to be ideal for New Zealand families that require a 7-seater vehicle capable of transporting many people and their associated gear – while still providing a fantastic driving experience. Exciting new features and an extended array of safety features will bring peace of mind for the whole family.

The new Mazda CX-9 carries over the utility and dynamic driving performance of the current model while adopting Mazda’s “KODO – Soul of Motion” design theme at the front and rear for even sportier styling and stronger presence. Enhancements in craftsmanship and interior design further the feeling of quality and refinement. With regard to equipment, the infotainment system features the latest audio, navigation and Bluetooth systems. In addition, advanced active-safety features, such as Forward Obstruction Warning System, Lane Departure Warning System, and High Beam Control System, help drivers recognize and avoid danger.

As with the current model, the new CX-9 features the MZI 3.7-liter V6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission for powerful and refined driving pleasure.

The all-new Mazda6 will also make its Australasian premiere in Sydney. It is the second of Mazda’s new generation of products that adopt the full range of SKYACTIV technologies and the KODO – Soul of Motion design theme. It is the first model to be equipped with Mazda’s unique brake energy regeneration system, i-ELOOP.

World Premiere of All-New Mazda6 Wagon at 2012 Paris Motor Show

September 11th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Mazda Motor Corporation will hold the world premiere of the all-new Mazda6 wagon at the 2012 Paris Motor Show.

It will be exhibited alongside the new Mazda6 Sedan that is currently generating a real buzz at the Moscow Motor Show. Both models displayed at the Paris Motor Show will feature Mazda’s new SKYACTIV-D 2.2 clean diesel engine.

Andrew Clearwater, Managing Director Mazda New Zealand says the previous generation Mazda6 wagon was a very strong performer in the New Zealand market and expectations are high for the new wagon.

“When the New Zealand motoring public sees the new Mazda6 wagon I believe they will be blown away by its class leading design that will make it stand out from the competition.”

Sales of the 3rd Generation All-New Mazda6 will begin in New Zealand in early 2013.

The 2012 Paris Motor Show begins September 27 and runs through to October 14.

Depending on individual market requirements, engine options for the Mazda6 include a Standard Power or High Power SKYACTIV-D 2.2 diesel engine as well as SKYACTIV-G 2.0 and SKYACTIV-G 2.5 direct injection petrol engines.

The new Mazda6 is the flagship model for a new generation of Mazda products. It incorporates the very best of Mazda’s craftsmanship and technical expertise across all domains, from dynamic performance and design, through to environmental performance and safety. It is the second of Mazda’s new generation of products which incorporate both the full range of SKYACTIV technologies and the new KODO – Soul of Motion design theme. It also features a range of advanced safety technologies and Mazda’s unique brake energy regeneration system, i-ELOOP.

Stunning Mazda6 Debuts at Moscow Motor Show

August 30th, 2012 by Karen Joy Provo

Mazda showcased the very latest in design and technology when the all new third generation Mazda6 Sedan made its much anticipated debut at the Moscow Motor Show.

Featuring the full range of SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY and the KODO – Soul of Motion design language it is the first Mazda vehicle to feature i-ELOOP, Mazda’s unique brake energy generation system which begins charging the capacitor the moment the driver takes his foot off the accelerator. This is then used to power electronic components of the vehicle resulting in greater fuel economy.

Mazda New Zealand, Managing Director, Andrew Clearwater, believes the first thing that will strike people about the new Mazda6 is its stunning look.

“The Mazda designers have built on the Mazda Takeri concept vehicle which created great interest when it debuted in 2011, to develop an exterior design that conveys tenacity, dignity and a sporty flare. The new Mazda6 really is the complete package of looks and performance and will make as big a mark in the mid-sized segment as its first generation predecessor did in 2002.’

The KODO design has also realised a vehicle that has a spacious comfortable interior and a refined Human Machine Interface (HMI) that creates a cockpit in which the driver can savour the joy of driving.

Driver safety is a real focus in the new Mazda6 and it includes a number of advanced safety features. Rear Vehicle Monitoring (RVM) and Adaptive Front Lighting system (AFS) improve driver awareness and improved field of vision at night, Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) allows the vehicle to avoid or reduce the severity of an accident even if the driver takes no action and Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) uses a camera to warn the driver of unintentional lane departures.

The new Mazda6 will be launched in New Zealand early in the New Year.

Mazda RX-8 Spirit R 2012 Review

August 27th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

We can barely go a week in the auto industry without hearing of a car that beats all previous records for its kind at an auction. Whether it’s a 1950s Ferrari, a 1960s GT40 or a 1970s muscle car they all have two things in common: they are in limited supply (either now or originally) and they were what the young adults of the day aspired to.

Fast forward to now and have a look at what the baby boomers want. They want the car of their dreams so they can recapture their youth. Mazda’s RX models have always been popular and even now are commanding a premium. Check out how much you can purchase an unmolested RX-2, RX-3 or RX-7 for. The RX-7 Spirit R is holding its value well with used examples with 40,000kms fetching around $35-40,000, and they’re not even old yet.

While this is not intended to be investment advice, you have to look at what this final RX-8 is. Only 12 have been imported into New Zealand and just a handful remain. It could potentially be the last rotary-engined car Mazda makes (unless it can make its 2007 concept 16X motor appealing and far less thirsty), and only 2000 examples are being made. You can guarantee that more than 90% of these will be driven almost daily, some will be modified and some will meet an untimely end.

In 30 years time, when the current crop of teenagers become empty nesters with disposable income, how many Mazda RX-8 Spirit R models will still be roadworthy? And how many will only have a handful of kilometers on the odometer?

So, you could buy a Spirit R for $56,695, put it in storage and hope it appreciates enough for your retirement fund. But that’s just speculation, and we’re not sure whether you’d be able to resist getting in it for a back-country blat.

Sink your (hopefully not-too-ample) rear into the deep bucket seats, fire up that rotary engine and it settles into a motorbike-style purr. Blip the throttle and the revs rise quickly up to 8500 – the red line. Perfectly positioned for your left hand is a short-throw, rotary-themed gearstick ready to select one of the six manual gears.

Give it some gas, lift that clutch and the Renesis engine’s unique tone rises with your acceleration. Dip the clutch and grab another gear. Rinse and repeat. Heel/toe on the downshift for a smile-inducing faux-racing experience. Now, it’s not fast by any stretch of the imagination. Compared to the turbo RX-7s that I hankered after when I was in my early 20s, the RX-8 is pedestrian and restrained, and that is possibly to try to tame the massive fuel consumption that rotary engines are famous for. You will be filling up at the pump frequently in the Spirit R as the quoted fuel economy is 12.1l/100km and you won’t be driving it to get good fuel economy.

The suspension is taut and, because the car rides on massive 19-inch wheels with low profile tyres you can feel exactly what it’s doing on the road. Red brake calipers peek through the wheels. At the rear there’s a dual exhaust and on the flanks there is the special Spirit R badge. There are rotary hints in the design language throughout the RX-8 from the bonnet to the knob that adjusts the seat back.

The front seats are the highlight of the interior. They hug you like an over-zealous aunty (but without the slobbery kisses). Their two-tone red and black theme is carried through to the rear seats which are really only good for storing things. Access to the rear seats is using the ‘suicide door’ that will only open once the front door is open.

Sitting in the driver’s seat your instrument view is dominated by the rev counter. The speedometer is a small digital display within the rev counter. Rotary engines rev up large, but not while they’re cold, so the rev counter incorporates a temperature-dependent redline for the engine.

The rest of the instrumentation and dashboard is looking long in the tooth. This is a run-out model and it’s showing signs of the RX-8’s 8-year history. While the RX-8 is pitched as a sports car it is lacking some minor features that are standard on almost all cars now, like a trip computer and Bluetooth phone integration.

Interior features include a 300W, 9-speaker stereo, cruise control, a handbrake level that looks like it’s out of Top Gun, and racing pedals.

The RX-8 feels go-kart-like. You sit low and the handling is responsive. It was hilarious getting out of the RX-8 into my next test car: a Toyota Land Cruiser. Driving the Land Cruiser felt like I was flying in a crop duster because it was so tall and wallowy in comparison.

The RX-8 turned heads during my time with it. Even though it’s been around for a few years, the new wheels and bodykit make this the best-looking RX-8 there’s been. It’s come of age. The question now is what value you’ll get from it, whether that’s monetary in the future, or by putting a smile on your face now.

Check out second hand RX-8s for sale here.

Price: $56,695


  • Could be an investment (if not for the future, at least for you to invest in having some fun driving)
  • Handles well
  • Intoxicating rotary engine sound
  • It’s the best-looking RX-8


  • Dated instrumentation
  • High fuel usage for the performance

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

Mazda CX-5 AWD Diesel Limited 2012 Review

August 15th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

We’ve already had a CX-5 – the 2WD petrol GSX, which we drove back in May – and we were impressed. The CX-5 is a vehicle that performs well on many levels – it’s aesthetically pleasing, fuel economy is good, interior features abound and, for an SUV, it handles well.

Now we’re in the top-of-the-line CX-5 AWD Diesel Limited. It’s a substantial $14,000 more than the GSX and for that you get a lot of extra features plus a more frugal (and torquey) diesel engine. You can read more about the GSX by clicking here (opens in a new tab).

Externally there are only two visible changes (apart from the AWD badge). The power sliding and tilt glass sunroof and the 19-inch wheels with 225/55R19 tyres as opposed to the 17-inch wheels of the standard car. These wheels make the CX-5 look even sharper and Mazda has managed to implement them without making the ride crashy and harsh.

There are two other external features that are all but hidden: bi-xenon auto leveling, adaptive front headlights will help you see more clearly at night as they swivel to help you see around the corners and will adjust based on whether another vehicle is approaching. The ultra-observant will notice a slight difference in the wing mirrors: a small icon illuminates orange to warn if a car is in your blind spot.

On the inside, this blind spot warning system (BSM – Blind Spot Monitor) beeps at you if you’re about to pull into a lane when another vehicle is there. This is useful feature, but it’s far too sensitive on the CX-5. It beeped at parked cars if I indicated to turn into a side road, at concrete motorway barriers as I exited (particularly in spaghetti junction where there is no hard shoulder) and occasionally for no apparent reason.

Along with the lane departure warning system the BSM provides for safer motorway cruising. The lane departure system activates at higher speeds and monitors the position of your car in relation to road markings using a windscreen camera. If you are about to drift out of your lane without indicating a low frequency burst of noise is played through the stereo.

Other features to aid visibility and maneouvring include the rear view camera and parking sensors front and rear. These are welcome because of the narrower visibility through the rear window.

The rear camera image is viewed on the 5.8-inch screen. This touch screen doubles as your entertainment and communication hub. There’s hands-free Bluetooth phone integration (wouldn’t connect to my Nokia N95, so you might need a newer phone), and iPod integration as well as the usual CD/radio/WMA options.

Mazda has been trumpeting its Skyactiv technology. This is a whole engine/gearbox/chassis/body revamp. There’s a low-friction six-speed automatic gearbox that’s lighter and smaller than its predecessors. The engine has been redesigned to produce more power while using less fuel and it has intelligent stop/start (automatically turning the engine off when you come to a stop). The chassis and body have been redesigned to be lighter but stronger, improving fuel economy. There is also a tyre pressure monitor that warns you if your tyres are starting to get flat – something which affects fuel economy and safety.

In the diesel the Skyactiv technology results in a much lower compression ratio than conventional common rail design engines, therefore components can be lighter and it can rev slightly higher (up to 5200rpm). The 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder engine liberates 129kW, but it’s the 420Nm of torque that gives it the bolt out of the gate. Drive it sensibly, though, and you might reach the quoted 5.7l/100km. I averaged 7l/100km but did drive it around town for most of the time.

Mazda has done an excellent job of making a typically poor handling SUV-style vehicle handle much more like a normal sedan. The CX-5 does sit tall, giving you good visibility, but the handling exudes quiet confidence. It is not a ‘driver’s car’, and it’s not designed to be. The CX-5 doesn’t create an ‘involving’ driving experience. Certainly, some journalists that hanker for the rawness of sports cars will decry this, but that’s not what the population wants. The popular wants a car that functions, has the right amount of room, is comfortable, well-appointed and doesn’t commandeer an unduly large percentage of cerebral power to drive.

It’s a car that gives you the kind of features that, on European equivalents, would cost tens of thousands more. Convenient features such as just being able to walk away from the car and it locks itself, opening the boot to find that the boot blind is connected to the tail gate and lifts cleverly out of the way,and being able to fold the rear seats to form a flat floor combine with premium features such as the Bose 231W, 9-speaker audio system and theTomTomsatellite navigation to create a car that seems like it should cost more. For the money it’s not quite perfect, but it’s not far off.

If you’re looking to purchase a CX-5, try here (opens in a new window).

Price: $55,990


  • Excellent all-rounder
  • Useful safety features
  • All-wheel drive
  • It’s almost perfect, except…


  • Blind spot warning system far too sensitive

Technical specifications

Vehicle Highlights
Price $55,990+ ORC
Style 5 door Crossover SUV
Tank capacity (Litres) 58 litres
Recommended fuel Diesel
Fuel consumption – combined 5.7 litres per 100km
Emissions standard Euro IV 149g/km
Engine type 2.2 litre in-line 4 cylinder 16 valve DOHC SKYACTIV-D intercooled turbo diesel engine with i-stop
Capacity (cc) 2,184
Compression ratio 14.0:1
Maximum power (kW) 129kW @ 4,500rpm
Maximum torque (Nm) 420Nm @ 2,000rpm
Throttle control Electronic (drive-by-wire)
Transmission SKYACTIV-DRIVE (6-speed Automatic) with manual shift function
Drive All Wheel Drive
Number of seats 5
Doors 5
Overall height (mm) 1,710
Track – front/rear (mm) 1,585/1,590
Overall length (mm) 4,540
Overall width (mm) 1,840
Wheel base (mm) 2,700
Kerb weight (kg) 1,685 – 1,687
Towing capacity – braked (kg) 1,800
Towing capacity – unbraked (kg) 750
Cargo room volume (VDA) 403 litres (rear seats in use) 1,560 (rear seats folded)
Steering Electronic power assist
Tyre size 225/55 R19
Rim size 19 inch
Wheel Type Alloy
Brakes – front Ventilated disc
Brakes – rear Solid disc
Air conditioning Dual-zone climate control
Cabin Air Filter Ventilated pollen filter
Bluetooth® handsfree phone connectivity Yes
Steering column – adjustable Tilt and telescopic
Cruise Control Yes
CD player Single disc MP3/WMA-compatible
Auxiliary input USB, iPod® and 3.5mm MP3 player compatible
Speakers 9
Bluetooth® audio Yes
Premium Bose® amplifier and speakers Yes
Steering-wheel-mounted audio controls Yes
Cup holders Yes
Interior illumination Cargo room lamp, ignition key surround, map reading spot, power window switches
Leather wrapped shift knob Yes
Leather wrapped steering wheel Yes
Seat trim Leather with 8-way power adjustment (driver) and heating function (driver and front passenger)
Sunroof Power-sliding and tilt
Rear seats 40/20/40 fold
Satellite Navigation In-dash, TomTom
Multi Information Display 5.8-inch colour, with touch screen control
Windscreen wipers – front 2-speed with rain-sensing function
Windscreen wipers – rear With intermittent function
Door handles Body coloured
Mirrors Body coloured with power adjustment
Aerial Shark fin-type
Headlamps Auto on/off Bi-Xenon with auto washers, auto leveling, Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) and daytime running lamps
Windows Powered with one touch driver function
Fog-lamps Front
Body kit Sports grille, rear spoiler, dual exhausts
Smart keyless entry Yes
Push button engine start Yes
Genuine Scheduled Servicing 3 years/100,000km (whichever occurs first) at no extra cost
On Road Assistance 3 year unlimited kilometre Mazda On Call Roadside Assistance
Warranty (years/km) 3 year unlimited kilometre Mazda Genuine Factory Warranty


Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

Mazda CX-5 GSX 2012 Review

May 23rd, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

I never call the Thames Coast road by its proper name. I call it ‘The Road of a Thousand Bends’. Apart from a couple of short straights at Manaia and a few villages dotted along the coast it is a relentless barrage of tight (often blind) corners wedged precariously between the sea and steep bluffs.

If you have a car with great dynamics this road is frustrating during the day but awesome at night. During the day there’s a procession of boaties, campervans and sightseers meaning you can’t stretch the vehicle’s legs; late at night, though, you can Continue reading “Mazda CX-5 GSX 2012 Review” »

Mazda3 MPS 2012 Review

April 10th, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

It’s interesting driving the cars that you know are going to be coveted by the future generation of performance-hungry young drivers. Because of our fairly cheap insurance in New Zealand, people under 25 can afford to insure cars that would be uninsurable in many other countries. As we have a sister title, NZ Performance Car, I’m acutely aware of the type of cars that will be making their way to the next generation once they’re a few years old.

Mazda’s MPS is one of them. OK, it’s front-wheel drive, which makes it a bit annoying for drift kings and track day heroes, but it’s a hot hatch with enough Continue reading “Mazda3 MPS 2012 Review” »

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