Mazda's answer to the VW Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4 and friends has landed on South African shores but more momentous is the fact that it marks our introduction to the company's smart Skyactiv engine, transmission and chassis technology.
This five-seat crossover is also the first Mazda to embody the Japanese carmaker's 'Kodo Soul of Motion' styling theme, which they say was inspired by a cheetah in motion.
When it came to the engine design, however, the emphasis was clearly more on sipping than sprinting. But rather than going the expensive and compromised hybrid route, Mazda sought to make the conventional internal combustion engine as efficient as possible.
MORE POWER, LESS THIRST
The all-new Skyactiv-G 2-litre petrol engine fitted to local models has a unique 4-2-1 exhaust system and special pistons that allow the engine to have an especially high 13:1 compression ratio.
This basically allows for more power and less consumption, the naturally aspirated engine pushing 114kW at 6000rpm, 200Nm at 4000rpm and an official combined fuel consumption of 6.8 litres per 100km for the manual model (6.9 for the auto).
Only front-wheel drive models are available for now, with the base Active version fitted with a six-speed manual transmission and the higher-rung Dynamic and Individual derivatives boasting an advanced Skyactiv-Drive six-speed automatic.
Mazda claims a sea-level 0-100km/h sprint time of 9.3 seconds for the manual and 9.5 seconds for the automatic, with respective top speeds of 197km/h and 187km/h.
This Skyactiv philosophy also extends to the body, which was designed to be lightweight, rigid and safe. Further passive and active safety measures include six standard airbags and dynamic stability control on all models.
As mentioned, there are three specifications to pick from. Active provides the basics like manual air conditioning, four-speaker sound system, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, full exterior colour coding and 17-inch steel wheels.
Stretch up to Dynamic trim and you receive 17-inch alloys, cruise control, a six-speaker sound system, Bluetooth phone integration, an alarm, front fog lights and leather covered steering wheel and gear knob.
Individual trim is where the real features party happens. Here you get 19-inch alloys, dual zone climate control, sunroof, leather seats (front ones heated), automatic headlights and wipers, adaptive front light system, Bi-Xenon headlights and a nine-speaker Bose sound system.
2.0 Active 2WD manual - R309 000
2.0 Dynamic 2WD AT - R336 900
2.0 Individual 2WD AT - R389 500
Built into the prices are a five-year/90 000km service plan and four-year/120 000km warranty. Service intervals are pegged at 15 000km.