STORY STEVE SPALDING
While road surface quality varies regardless of what state you drive in, the new model’s body and suspension revisions do a top-notch job of keeping the Mazda’s occupants comfortable and relaxed.
The improvements, which naturally include attention to NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness), have targeted improved ride comfort, control and cabin noise levels. More than just focusing on less noise, the emphasis is on reducing noises that impede conversation.
Even the new underbody streamlining and radiator shutter (on the Turbo petrol model) help keep the cabin quiet and conversation clear. So, no more excuses of ‘I’m sorry I didn’t hear that’!
The body revisions are not all buried beneath the skin with redesigned front and rear bodywork that helps sharpen up the overall look of the car. As does the eight colour choices, and two wheel size options that sit within the four-model range of both sedan and wagon variants.
Interior upgrades use quality materials and finish with new seat designs that include four leather and one fabric cover choice as well as comfort upgrades. The top spec Atenza gets new front seat ventilation ports to improve air circulation and comfort.
Comprehensive active safety features bring some of the latest technologies into the car. The benefit here is active features assist the driver in avoiding a crash whereas passive safety features, still an essential part of a vehicle’s safety design, help reduce the level of occupant injury in a crash.
The ‘heads-up’ display is worth a special mention and gives the driver a clear reading of the vehicle’s speed as well as the cruise-control’s set speed and the posted speed limit for that section of road. It also alerts the driver to any driver assist warnings the car’s sensors pick up.
During the drive we found the heads-up display particularly useful in monitoring speed and it generally reacted accurately to changed speed conditions such as when entering sections of road works.
Mazda’s Radar Cruise Control system reduces the annoying need to keep adjusting the setting as found on more basic cruise control systems when slower cars are approached in the lane ahead.
Three engine options are available ranging from the 2.2 litre diesel through to two 2.5 litre petrol engines, one of which is turbo-charged and pushes out 170kw of power and 420 Nm of torque. Not surprisingly, the petrol engines are expected to make up the vast percentage of sales compared to the diesel option.
The three engines are matched to the standard six-speed auto which shifts smoothly and
unobtrusively across the driving range, and the wide torque range of the engines mean drivers are not fatigued by a constantly shifting transmission that can sometimes occur on smaller engines with a peakier power delivery.
During the drive program we couldn’t match the quoted fuel consumption, which is not uncommon, as real-world driving conditions rarely match official fuel consumption figures. The required fuel is standard ULP which helps drivers avoid the usual price premium for higher octane PULP.
Mazda’s warranty remains at three years and unlimited kilometres and servicing follows their usual pattern of every 10,000km or 12 months.
The good news is pricing starts at $32,490, plus on-roads, for the 2.5 litre petrol Sport which is the same entry price as the previous model. Mazda have also squeezed in an additional $3,000 of additional equipment for this same starting price.
Prices top out at $50,090, plus on roads, for the Atenza 2.2 litre diesel wagon with the Touring and GT models sitting between this model and the Sport in terms of pricing.