Mazda MX-5 2.0 Roadster Coupe
by Helen Carstens
This was an eye-stopper and most people were confused, thinking it was anything but a Mazda.
The coupe is striking, low down with a long, flat and curvy bonnet. It is small, perky, smart and stylish.
The interior is by no means spacious but rather built-up. Climb into bucket seats in an all-leather interior with red stitching on the seats, gears and steering wheel. The doors are clad in leather with red gloss matching the outside of my metallic red test vehicle.
As the name denotes this is a car for the driver and their passenger. I term it a “me” car. The confined space makes it suitable for you and a passenger, no more.
The MX-5 provides a lively ride, low and tight suspension, six-speed manual gears that are close and precise. The steering wheel is adjustable and includes multi-function controls for cruise control, telephone, volume and navigating the infotainment system menus.
Keyless and push button start add convenience. The headlights once on can stay on and will automatically turn off when locking the car.
The cabin area is compact with a built-up section between the seats where the gears, handbrake and infotainment controls sit.
Above this is are the dials for the aircon, just below the LED display, all neatly laid out.
The MX-5 features power windows and mirrors, rear park distance control and reverse camera, heated seats, media unit with radio, CD, aux and iPod connectors as well as Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming.
The MX-5 is clearly focused on the experience of driving fast and free. The 2.0 4 cylinder engine puts out 118kW and 200 Nm of torque and is capable of reaching 100km per hour in just 7.3 seconds.
The foldable soft-top roof comes down with ease. Just one clip needs to be released in order to fold the roof away. Once you have the top open the experience of driving is further amplified. Put the pedal to the metal and you are treated to an exhilarating, adrenaline-filled drive.
Suzuki Vitara 1.6 GL+
by Helen Carstens
One can be confused at the sight of this one, as many in fact were, thinking it was the Range Rover Evoque. It is however from the stable of Suzuki and it is the Vitara (which is smaller than the Range Rover to which it bears a passing resemblance).
The cross-over SUV has a higher ground clearance which provides a clear view of the road ahead. The body is two-tone with a slope to the back and tinted rear windows, which help to create a very appealing view as do the slightly larger wheel arches.
The interior is uncluttered with controls neatly laid out and easy to see, operate and navigate around. The cloth seats are large and comfortable. The steering wheel is height-adjustable and has controls for menu options, volume, cruise control and Bluetooth telephone.
The instrument cluster has a display screen with buttons on either side and has a CD player and radio which includes Bluetooth streaming, Aux, USB and iPod points. The aircon dials are located below.
On top of the dash sit two moveable air vents and the digital clock.
The five-speed manual that I drove provided a clean and crisp drive, comfortable at all times, with precise gear changes. The Vitara is easy to drive, smooth and comfortable to handle.
Passengers in the rear sit comfortably and leg room is ample, according to my passengers.
The boot area is of a fair size, with the option to drop the rear seats to further expand the space. Additional versatility is offered by way of a concealed area under the boot floor as well in the side walls. The plastic holders located on the side walls can be removed, and stuck onto the top of the boot cover, providing extra width without constriction. I found this to be a rather nifty feature.
The Vitara provides fuel efficiency as well and is an all-round good ride with space and versatility to suit a varied lifestyle.
Mazda CX-3 2.0 Individual auto
by Helen Carstens
Sleek, curvacious and bold is how best to describe the CX-3. On top of that you can add sporty and smart because the look certainly draws attention and turns a head or two.
The CX-3 is the smaller option to the CX-5 and I think it is the perfect option for the “I want it but not all of it” crowd.
Diversity is what the CX-3 is all about. My test vehicle was the higher-specced 20.L auto Individual. The sleek interior boasts a variety of textures with leather suede and thick plastic blending in black, dark grey and red. The red inserts particularly highlight the sport aspect.
The clean and neat interior is designed with a minimalistic approach, with an uncluttered dash that has a LED display and aircon dials. The controls are located between the front seats next to the hand-brake.
The steering wheel is stitched in leather and features a host of multi-function controls. When driving your speed is displayed as a floating digital readout thanks to the active driver display. This is a lovely feature as your eyes stay on the road and in front of you at all times.
There is no conventional speed dial, only a second digital speed display in the main driver instrument cluster and an analogue rev counter centre of the instrument cluster.
The CX-3 is keyless with push button start. This is one of those features that I absolutely adore – no keys in the hands at all means one thing less to worry about.
Features include LED daytime running lights and auto lights, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, Bluetooth telephone and streaming, power windows, power mirrors with folding, reverse camera, radio with aux, 2 USB and iPod ports and a CD player. I enjoy having a conventional CD player because time to transfer music to USB does not exist for someone like me, and my phone is for work purposes, not music!
On the road the CX-3 is a comfortable and smooth drive. A higher ride height adds visibility. The auto gears change smoothly and efficiently and if you prefer a more manual approach simply slide the gear lever across and you can manually change up and down with a flick of the lever.
The CX-3 can comfortably seat 5 occupants and the boot, while not the largest, is adequate.
The CX-3 is a sporty, sleek and comfortable drive, perfectly suited to those who want it, but not all of it.