The Road Ahead : April May 2012
MAKES YOUR DAY 55 APR/MAY 2012 THE ROAD AHEAD ROAD TEST MOTORING auto is a slick and smooth shifter and in all of our six acceleration tests, except 60-100 km/h, the Ford finished in front. The steering is quick and turn- in sharp, and at all times you feel the front end is in communication. There's a deal of tyre roar and rumble on course chip road surfaces from the Ford's 40 series rubber on 18" alloys and some jarring over major undulations, but overall the Titanium rides and grips well and pulled up in our emergency brake testing (80 km/h-stop) a metre shorter on average. No review of the Focus Titanium would be complete without mentioning an ability to reverse park itself, basically using a number of ultrasonic sensors to help manoeuvre the car into position. Appropriately named 'Park Assist', it works well. MAZDA3 SP20 What sets the SP20 apart from the rest of the new Mazda3 line-up is its SKYACTIV fuel and emissions saving technology. Briefly put, this totally- new 2.0-litre engine runs a high compression ratio (12:1), the internal components are lighter, mechanical friction is reduced by 30 percent, and changes to the combustion chamber produce a better 'burn'. It's mated with a new six-speed auto which 'locks- up' 90 percent of the time, reducing efficiency loss through slippage. Though not as quick in a straight line, the Mazda is no slouch point-to- point, especially when shown a twisty, mountain road. Its lighter weight engenders a feel of litheness, and the SP20's ability to cover ground would satisfy most buyers in this category. Like the Ford, it has a competent chassis, and handling and grip levels -- while not quite as dynamic -- bring no complaint. Running on smaller diameter (16") alloys, the SP20 could be expected to have a markedly better ride than its bigger wheeled rival, but this wasn't always the case. Rougher back roads taxed its rebound qualities and the ubiquitous coarse chip bitumen challenged its noise insulation limits. While the Focus Titanium is tops on standard features, the SP20 still comes very well equipped. As well as the items listed in the separate stats' panel, the Mazda scores tinted windows, rain-sensing wipers, active front headrests, immobiliser, one-touch up/ down driver's window function, remote central locking, multi-info display, auto on/off lights and illuminated glovebox. The $3000 Luxury pack includes Bi- xenon headlights, leather trim, sliding centre armrest console and Bose premium audio system with 242 watt amp, 10 speakers and subwoofer. As well as being $2100 cheaper, the SP20 Luxury also boasts an unlimited km warranty, enhancing its value for money proposition. And, with an outstanding improvement of 25.6 percent in fuel consumption (due in no small way to i-stop, a function which shuts down the engine when stationary in traffic), the SP20 lays claim to the title of most fuel-efficient, petrol- powered small car with a combined cycle economy of 6.1 litres/100 km. This compares with Focus Titanium's 6.6. We couldn't match either figure on test, but Mazda3 supped less for an overall return of 9.2 litres/100 km on cheaper unleaded fuel compared with the Ford's 9.7 on 95 PULP. The Mazda's interior is not just styled more conservative, but is short of some of the creature comforts of the Ford, such as powered adjustment to the driver's seat which is flat and lacking lower back support over a distance. It's the equal for driver leg room, though tighter across the rear seats. The boot is wider and higher, with no intrusions and a flat floor. A spacesaver spare wheel is standard. CONCLUSION Consensus is Focus is the winner of our Twin Test, but there's nothing in it. In the tradition of their Focus and Mazda3 nameplates, these are two very good small cars you would be happy to own and drive. FOCUS STATS MLP: $30,990 WARRANTY: 3 years/100,000 km. SERVICE INTERVALS: 1 year/15,000 km. SAFETY: Dual front/side/curtain airbags (DFSCA), front pretensioner/ load limiter seatbelts, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC), electronic brake distribution (EBD), brake assist (BA), traction control (TC). KEY FEATURES: Dual-zone climate control airconditioning, leather/cloth seats, bluetooth, voice control, USB/ iPod connectivity, rear fold down armrests, tilt/reach steering, ENGINE: 2.0-litre inline, DOHC, 16-valve four-cyl. MAX. POWER: 125 kW @ 6600 rpm. MAX. TORQUE: 202 Nm @ 4450 rpm. FUEL: 95 RON. CRASH RATING: (Euro). EMISSIONS RATING: FOR: Vehicle dynamics, standard equipment. AGAINST: Higher price, no steering reach adjustment. SP20 STATS MLP: $33,090 WARRANTY: 3 years/unlimited km. SERVICE INTERVALS: 6 months/10,000 km. SAFETY: DFSCA, front pretensioner/ load limiter seatbelts, ABS, ESC, EBD, BA, TC. KEY FEATURES: Body kit (rear spoiler/ skirts/grille), dual-zone climate control aircondition ing, bluetooth, tilt/reach steering, fog lights, roof rack mounts, ENGINE: 2.0-litre, inline, DOHC, 16-valve four-cyl. MAX. POWER: 113 kW @ 6000 rpm. MAX. TORQUE: 194 Nm @ 4100 rpm. FUEL: 91 RON. CRASH RATING: (Euro). EMISSIONS RATING: FOR: Ride (smooth roads), fuel economy. AGAINST: Plain interior, no steering reach adjustment.
February March 2012
June July 2012