THE Sales Director of Mazda UK says “the arrival of Mazda’s first vehicle with its innovative SkyActiv technology is about to transform the Compact SUV segment in Britain”.
He is of course referring to the new Mazda CX-5 (prices from £21,395 to £28,795) which, under the SkyActiv banner, signals the Japanese manufactures’ intentions for the foreseeable future.
Aimed at trimming the waistline and improving consumption and emissions, SkyActiv technology will underpin all future Mazda cars. The new technologies are centred on three key areas: sophisticated lightweight chassis technology, advanced engines with world-beating compression ratios and highly efficient six-speed manual and automatic transmissions.
And where better to first drive the car and find out if Mr Allibon’s brave opening statement is correct, or just a load of salesman baloney, than the Isle of Skye.
There is of course no link between SkyActiv technology and the remote Scottish island, other than the name, but good PR is very important when it comes to such an important launch.
So, with the taste of deep fried Mars bars already teasing the taste buds, off I headed to Inverness Airport last week to take delivery of the new compact-crossover before embarking on a two and a half hour drive to the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides.
Mazda’s always feel good to drive and the CX-5 is no different. It is remarkably comfortable and you feel at one with the vehicle from the moment you first jump inside. Some cars can take a while to get used to but not this one, the seating position was how I liked it and by introducing a slightly shorter gear shift stroke Mazda has managed to make their manual transmissions feel closer to that of a sports car than a lumpy SUV.
At launch there will be a choice of just two engines, a 2.0-litre petrol with 165bhp and a 2.2-litre diesel with outputs of 150bhp and 175bhp. Both come with excellent stop/start systems and a choice of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. You also have the choice of a two-wheel-drive or an all-wheel-drive model.
The oil-burning units are expected to account for 85 per cent of UK sales with the 150bhp model, together with a front-wheel drive chassis and a six-speed manual gearbox, expected to be the most popular. On paper it promises 61.4mpg and emissions of just 119g/km.
Mazda are a company known for their ‘firsts’ – they were the first company to produce an OVH engine, the only company to pursue a rotary engine and the first and only Japanese manufacturer to win at Le Mans – and that is something to be admired.
Now they have created another first. While other manufacturers have been concentrating on developing hybrid and electric vehicles, Mazda has created SkyActiv – a different approach to delivering class-leading emissions and outstanding fuel economy.
Is it the way to go? Only time will tell.