DESPITE a series of fuel rollbacks, the price of fuel in the country is still far from ideal. Little wonder that motorists nowadays are more conscious about fuel consumption and prefer more frugal vehicles with price tags that fall within their budget.
Berjaya Philippines, the sole distributor of Mazda cars in the country, recently held a two-day fuel-economy run for the motoring media that showcased its innovative, new-generation SkyActiv Technology, which is intended to reflect Mazda’s desire to provide driving pleasure, as well as outstanding environmental and safety performance, in their vehicles.
Dubbed as “The Mazda SkyActiv Experiment,” the event highlights the fuel efficiency of Mazda vehicles, wherein media participants were given the chance to experience real-life driving conditions in the city and on the highway.
After a quick breakfast at the Mazda Pasig dealership, we all headed for the media briefing of the event. The journalists were grouped into nine teams composed of three media participants each and assigned a car. I was paired with Bess Zamora of AQ Magazine, and Philippine Graphic Motoring Editor and BusinessMirror Property Editor Tet Andolong.
On the first leg, the participants were tasked to drive through the congested route of the metropolis from Makati to Manila, and then onto Quezon City. Our designated vehicle was Mazda’s compact crossover SUV—the CX-5 AWD Sport. At first, I thought we had an edge because I had driven an identical vehicle before. But I soon found out that familiarity or even expertise were not enough to win the first leg. We should have taken into account the road conditions and how slow traffic was.
During the drive, I noticed how cleverly the “i-Stop” idling system works on the CX-5. It feels like you’re driving a hybrid car, when in full stop. The i-Stop uses the combustion start method, which has a quicker response and less energy usage. This works when the system initiates engine restart by injecting fuel directly into the cylinder while the engine is stopped.
In real-world driving conditions, the i-Stop system makes an impact because shutting off the engine in severe traffic saves fuel that would have otherwise been burned unnecessarily while the car is idling. And since the engine restart takes only 0.35 seconds, there are no delays for the driver when continuing from a full stop.
Team No. 3, composed of Vince Pornelos of Autoindustriya.com, Nick Calanoc and Carlo Tirona of C! Magazine, was declared the first leg winner after it accumulated a total of 27.802 km per liter in city driving.
The second exercise was the highway leg, which involved a route that took us from Clark SCTEx to the Luisita Exit. The objective was to run at 60 kph, 80 kph and 100 kph. Since I was the driver of our team, I had to stay focused on the road and tried my best to stay close to the recommended speed.
On the highway, the Mazda CX-5 delivers respectable performance. The CX-5 is powered by a 2.5-liter inline-four DOHC 16-valve engine that offers a maximum output of 187 ps at 5,700 rpm and torque of 250 Nm at 3,250 rpm. It may be a sport-utility vehicle, but it won’t give speed freaks any reason to get bored.
Inside, leather seats turn the generously proportioned cabin into a plush and restful environment. The six-speaker multimedia system presents different gadget-connectivity options via aux-in, USB and Bluetooth voice control, while a rear-view camera aids in parking.
For the sake of safety, six airbags are spread throughout the passenger compartment. The CX-5 is also equipped with dynamic stability and traction-control systems, which are ready to intervene during emergency situations, such as skids or wheel spin.
Despite all the electronic aids, the event was still very much a test of driving skill and as a result of my lapses, we ran out of luck. We had wanted to win but when we saw our lead vanish into thin air, we just had to content ourselves with the fact that we had a great time.
At the end of the event, the best team on the highway leg was Team No. 8, which managed to get an outstanding 21.11 km per liter. The team is composed of Steven Yu of BusinessWorld and the father-and-son tandem of Ron and Ronald de los Reyes of Auto Review, who were declared the winners. Shell was the official fuel partner of the event.
In Photo: A Mazda 6 drives by the Gawad Kalinga Dreamland project of Mazda Philippines and competitors top up with fuel before the start.