Wednesday, April 27, 2016

First Drive: 2016 Mazda6 2.2 Skyactiv-D and 2016 Mazda CX-5 2.2 Skyactiv-D AWD


What a difference a letter makes. Though it doesn’t look it, the two Mazda vehicles you see here: the Mazda6 and CX-5 AWD are very different from the models introduced last year. No amount of squinting will help you see the changes, because the only discernable difference is found on a trunk badge that reads, “Skyactiv Technology D”. Yes, Philippines, the Skyactiv-D is now here and it’s going to transform how you’ll drive.

As a refresher, Mazda is the purveyor of Skyactiv Technology. It started with Skyactiv-G where engineers have increased the compression ratio to diesel-like levels to maximize power from every drop of fuel. The resulting engines are renowned for their class-leading fuel efficiency without needing a supplementary electric motor. Skyactiv-D works in the opposite way. This time, the compression ratio has been lowered to gasoline engine levels (14:1) thereby reducing fuel consumption. Of course, Mazda has realized that by reducing the compression ratio, it’ll result in poorer emissions. They corrected this by recirculating hot exhaust gases to heat up the engine quicker while a lengthened combustion stroke and unique injectors burns off any unwanted greenhouse gases. The result is 20 percent less fuel consumption, 20 percent less carbon dioxide emissions, and meets Euro 6 (models locally are Euro 4 compliant) emission standards without any costly emissions treatment.



If the previous paragraph is a bit hard to comprehend, here’s a simpler version for you: 173 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 420 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm. And these numbers come from 2.2 liters of displacement with twin turbos and variable valve timing. It’s the automotive equivalent of having your cake and eating it too.

Eating, or at least tasting, this cake so to speak, 12 Mazda vehicles, all equipped with Skyactiv-D went from Mazda Makati in Pasong Tamo to Anilao, Batangas for a proper shakedown. Pushing the ‘engine start’ reveals a pleasant surprise. Unlike other diesels, the Germans include, that rely on sound deadening to soften the diesel clatter, the Skyactiv-D is quiet and refined whether you’re in or out of the vehicle. It purrs at idle and doesn’t call attention to itself. The only indicator that you’re in a diesel is the 5,200 rpm redline.



As the group moved from the confines of the city onto the Skyway and eventually down to the STAR Tollyway, that feeling of pleasantness is changed to a sense of satisfaction. At cruising, the engine’s inaudible and passes for a gas-fed one except for the telltale turbo whine when tapping the accelerator; 100 km/h is done at 1,900 rpm. Overtaking is easy and won’t require squeezing the gas pedal all the time. A surge of power comes in at just 50 to 60 percent throttle application; enough to send an unprepared cameraman reaching for the grab handle. The speedometer climbs effortlessly, reaching speeds north of 150 km/h. The only thing that stopped everyone is fear of having licenses revoked. There’s no ‘Sport’ mode here simply because there’s no need for it. The torque spread is as wide as an all-you-can-eat buffet; ear-to-ear smiles guaranteed all the way.

Exiting Batangas, the CX-5’s and Mazda6’s sped their way through Bauan and then eventually to Anilao. Power is stout and always available; like a genie granting wishes each time you floor the gas. The secret is the use of twin turbos rather than single turbo with variable geometry. This reduces turbo lag throughout the rev range and makes the Skyactiv-D much more responsive. This entire “pedal to the metal” driving experience is addicting and never grows old. It’s a bonus that that bane of provincial roads: jeepneys and tricycles don’t pose much of a problem with these Skyactiv-D equipped vehicles. And even if you’re not pushing it, the 6-speed automatic, unique to the diesel, shuffles its ratios well, perfectly matching the engine’s character. There are circumstances, though rare, where it jolts into first gear causing mild shift shock. The Mazda6 benefits even more from the steering wheel paddle shifters, though even without them, the CX-5 is just as responsive.



Great as they are in overtaking slower traffic, both of these diesel-fed Mazdas feel much more alive when you take them through corners. Compared to their gasoline counterparts, they do tend to tip and understeer more, but that’s more because of the added weight of the diesel engine. The engine itself is lighter with an aluminum block and crank, still Mazda engineers didn’t take any chance and tweaked the suspension and adjusted various components so that they’ll continue to live up to the Jinba-ittai promise. They’re fun to drive and composed with linear and responsive steering. The most important thing of all though is that they’re easy to drive. By the end, the Mazda6 managed 16.67 km/L while the CX-5 did 17.54 km/L in a mixed city and highway setting, figures that echo the gasoline variants during purely highway cruising.

The added spice of ‘D’ doesn’t come free though. Priced both at P 1,985,000 the Mazda6 2.2 Skyactiv-D  and CX-5 2.2 Skyactiv-D AWD represent a P 200,000 and P 240,000 jump respectively (the CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport gets a price bump to P 1,745,000). It must be remembered though that the Mazda6’s Japanese V6-powered competitors are still all priced above P 2-million. Meanwhile, the CX-5 is the only Japanese compact crossover with a diesel engine; and it’s also the only one to offer all sorts of convenience technology. The price increase is a paltry sum, a small premium, considering they both offer the driving fun, the great technological features, without any of the guilt. And they offer the same Yojin-3 ownership packaging down to the same 10,000-kilometer/6-month periodic maintenance service cycle.


48 comments:

  1. Did the CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport get a minor update to warrant the P50k increase in price?

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    Replies
    1. The 2.5 Sport doesn't get any additional features. The price increase is due to fluctuating exchange rate.

      This new price for the CX-5 Sport starts May 1.

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    2. Sir Uly, is it safe assume that there will be no updates for Mazda's other vehicles in their lineup for 2016? I held off buying the M3 Speed thinking that they'll update it this year.

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    3. Doesn't look it. Likely same Mazda3 without face-lift.

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    4. Thanks for taking the time to reply, Sir Uly. By the way, great first drive. Love the Mazda6. Unfortunately, it's way out of my price range.

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    5. sir uly, how about passenger ride comfort? Did anybody from the review group rode at the back? Off topic sir, please advise, i am looking for an suv which is good to drive as well as comfortable to ride for the passengers in front & back. Thank you in advance :-)

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    6. Hi, Uly. Great review on the Skyactiv D vehicles. The question is, which is more fun to drive? The Mazda 6 wagon or the 6 sedan diesel?

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  2. Does the cx5 skyactiv d have auto start stop?

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    Replies
    1. Both have i-stop (idle start/stop) but no i-ELOOP (capacitor).

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  3. Does Ford accept Mazdas for maintenance? The nearest Mazda dealership from me is in Davao which is 4-5hrs away. We have Ford in Gensan which is only 2 hrs away. This is the only thing that's holding me back.

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  4. 2016 mazda 3s (1.5 and 2.0l) got a 10k price increase but gained a backup camera

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  5. Just to clarify. There is only one variant that is Skyactiv-D in the CX-5 line-up? The AWD sport is still Gas or is it diesel too?

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    Replies
    1. There's only one Skyactiv-D in the CX-5 line-up and that's the AWD Sport. You can still get the gas-powered CX-5 AWD Sport though.

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    2. Thanks. Been waiting for the Skyactiv-D engines to hit the Philippine shores for quite a while now.

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  6. Diesels are awesome! I love it when I get to pay more for maintenance compared to gasoline engines! I also love the fact that my diesel engine is a known carcinogenic! What I truly love the most is when gasoline powered cars overtake my diesel car in the highway, that feeling is euphoric I tell ya!

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    Replies
    1. we get it, You're probably driving a 50 year old diesel engine vehicle for sure. Maybe it's time you get out of your cave and get a fresh breath of what's technology has to offer today.

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    2. Yeah you're probably referring to the likes of Isuzu crosswind, which uses stone age technologies. Your sarcasm is based upon your outdated knowledge of diesel engines. Maybe it's about time to get out of your cave and get in touch with reality again Pal. Don't you know that most high tech diesel engines nowadays are as fast and as clean as gasoline engines? Say for instance, the BMW diesels, have you experienced driving one or at least sat in the passenger seat and feel how it drives? Dude they're as quick as their gasoline counterparts. What's being referred here are diesels with the latest technologies in compact vehicles, and not some old-world diesels inside bulky full size SUVs or AUVs.

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  7. Hi, Sir Uly! Just wanted to ask for your advice. Getting the Mazda3V as my first car. I'm torn between the jet black and the pearl white colors. Any pros/cons and tips regarding the two colors? Really like the black but I've been warned by my friends regarding maintenance issues (e.g. easy scratching, hotter cabin, etc.)

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    Replies
    1. I wont recommend a black car for your first car. Your friwnds are absolutely right, its a pain in the ass to maintain! But if youre willing to put so much effort in cleaning and protecting youre paint it will be a different story. Oh and by the way the pearl white looks good on the mazda 3. So... get it in white!

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  8. How about the fuel consumption? Any Km/liter figures?

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    1. Quoting the story:

      "By the end, the Mazda6 managed 16.67 km/L while the CX-5 did 17.54 km/L in a mixed city and highway setting, figures that echo the gasoline variants during purely highway cruising."

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  9. Hi Mr Ulysses Ang,

    But in that price range, I suspect 8 out of 10 consumers will go for the real SUV toughies like the Fort, the Monty and the Everest, right?

    Because in terms of features and refinement, the three toughies have improved a lot and their all around capabilities are unmatched by the soft SUV's like CX-5, CRV, X-Trail and RAV 4. Don't you think so?

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    Replies
    1. depends really. If you're going off road, better get the 3rd world SUVs. But if you're going to use it only within the city and highway, stick with crossovers. the 3rd world SUVs are cumbersome and annoying in the city.

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    2. ^ That. Personally, I'd still stick to a compact crossover than a three-row SUV. I mean, they're good. But I still prefer a car-based crossover any time of the day.

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  10. Hi Sir! Sorry if this is off-topic, but I'm getting the Mazda 3 1.5V sedan as my first car. Deciding between the jet black and pearl white colors. Can you give me any feedback/tips or pros and cons between the two colors? Really liking the black but I've been warned bout the hassle of keeping it clean and how easy it is to get scratched. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Get the bronze color. Best of both worlds.

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    2. Get the aluminium metallic. It will compliment the rounds and curves of Kodo design. I do have a 1.5V sedan a.metallic.

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  11. So if I'm not mistaken, the nly other mid-size diesel car that compete's Mazda6 diesel FOR ITS PRICE RANGE is the Peugeot 508 2.0 Allure trim.

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    1. Yes, that's true. The Peugeot 508 becomes its chief competitor when you look only at diesel-fed offerings. But, remember, there's also the V6-powered Japanese as well as this Skyactiv-D puts out more torque than any of them!

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    2. Kia's 2.2 Sorento has higher hp and torque than the CX5 but its P2.3 price is plain crazy! Best buy would be the previous model at a million peso less but sporting the same thrifty but powerful engine.

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  12. Is the 6 Diesel also available in wagon form?

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  13. Is there a Diesel engine variant for the Mazda 6 Station Wagon?

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    Replies
    1. Imagine driving a diesel fed Mazda 6 wagon! Sleeper speedster with minimal fuel consumption. Devil.

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  14. Replies
    1. Is Mazda PH planning on bringing the Sports Wagon Skyactiv-D?

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  15. Any news on cx3 coming?

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  16. Hopefully the diesel engine will to the FWD variant. Not all people would opp for a diesel AWD when used mostly in the city and highways. Hopefully mazda will pursue a FWD Skyactiv D

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  17. Is the navigation map finally available? It is a shame that Mazda includes this feature but do not have the maps for use with its proprietary software. It would have been good enough if they just used Google Maps or Waze.

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  18. Planned to buy the Mazda 6 last year but was put off by the similar design of the 3&2. I wonder if other customers will be willing to pay premium for a car that looks similar to one that is half its price.

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  19. Hi Mr. Ang. I recently visited the Mazda showroom to take a look at the Mazda 6. It's got a lot going for it, especially the skyactiv-d model. That three year free pms also gives it great value for the price.

    What I am concerned about, though, is reliability and cost of service beyond that three year period. I tend to keep my vehicles for more than 10 years and having a vehicle with a very reliable and easy to service engine is important. Would you recommend the Mazda 6 skyactiv-d?

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  20. Sir how about the maintenance after the 3 years pms?

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  21. What's the wading depth of the CX-5?

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  22. Sir. Ulyses, is it worth while to spend extra php 200,000 for the diesel engine compare to 2.5L gas? I plan to use the car for 3-5 years and run to 10k km per ye,ar considering the maintenance, fuel consumption and resale value. I usually drive 3rows suv and this is my first time to invest in a diesel suv compact.

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  23. I got a shocking 15k bill for a new battery on my less than two year old 6. Mazda says that third party batteries are not compatible. :(

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  24. Hi Uly, which one is overall better for you, Mazda CX5 D or Subaru Forester XT?

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