THE Mazda story began in the Twenties, but it was not until 1931 that the then
THE Mazda story began in the Twenties, but it was not until 1931 that the then Japanese toolmaker advanced to making vehicles.
What emerged was the rather wonderfully named Mazdago auto-rickshaw. This was a three-wheeler that resembled a motorcycle with an open truck bed. It was steered by motorcycle handlebars and powered by an air-cooled, one-cylinder engine.
The company formally adopted the Mazda name in 1984, though its vehicles had borne the Mazda moniker from the beginning of its car manufacturing period.
What started me thinking about Mazda’s interesting history was simply that even a cursory glance at the new 2016 model range shows how far the car maker has come â€” especially in the past decade.
I believe Mazda has finally got its act together with a consistently good range of affordable models that can meaningfully compete in an unforgiving 21st century global car market.
The icing on the cake, of course, for me, is the all-new Mazda MX-5 sports car, which was my car of the year in 2015. This MX-5 is a pristine example of how to reconfigure a classic for 2016 customer tastes.
Last autumn I went on a Mazda driving day here in the Cotswolds where the undoubted star of the day was the MX-5. But there was also an opportunity to get behind the wheel of this week’s drive, the new Mazda CX-5.
The model I have been testing is the CX-5 2.2D 175ps AWD Sport Nav Diesel â€” and a very competent car it is, too.
It may not be as exciting to drive as a sports car, but then this so-called compact SUV (sports utility vehicle) has a likeably solid, dependable air about it.
The CX-5 is almost conservative in its outlook. You sit up high and comfortable â€” which I liked very much â€” and have as commanding a view of the road as you do in much bigger SUVs.
The car also feels spacious inside. Although the model I drove had an interior of sober black, the stone leather upholstery remained warm â€” heated seats are a must for me these days â€” and appealing during some 400 miles of wintry test-driving.
For a car that costs just north of £31,000 overall â€” the test car price â€” you get surprisingly good value for money. Most SUVs that make you feel this comfortable have a starting price for the basic model higher than this test vehicle.
As spring approaches, and if your penchant is for towing a caravan â€” not mine, I’m afraid, after a long, arduous trip through France one year â€” it would be worth considering the CX-5.
In 2015 the CX-5 was voted best tow car in the 1,550kg to 1,699kg category by no less than three respected experts in the field â€” Practical Caravan magazine, What Car? magazine and the Camping and Caravanning Club â€” who assessed its everyday driving ability, price, running costs and future resale value.
I think this recognition makes sense to me after spending some time with the CX-5.
One thing struck me that might be improved â€” I found the 7in touchscreen display on the dashboard could be bigger to allow better visual communication with the driver.
But there is no doubt that overall the new CX-5 is a solid performer â€” its 2.2-litre engine is full of torque (pulling power) and it is a car ready to do any job you might put before it.