Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports

Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports
Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports
29 April 2023
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Initially, this cross-coupe should not have been on the Russian market at all! Mazda developed it at one time for the Chinese market, the car is produced in the same place, in the Middle Kingdom, and it is unlikely that anyone would need it with the brand new CX-30, CX-5 and CX available, as of old, in every salon of the brand -9. But life, as usual, has made its own adjustments: Mazda (like most major foreign automakers) left Russia, and both sellers and buyers want to have a worthy alternative to Chinese crossovers that are slowly filling in the gaps that have formed in our market. And then parallel imports were legalized! This is how the CX-4 model of a very popular Japanese brand appeared in Russia. The magazine “Engine” found out what a “Japanese” can offer Russians at the price of a heaped “Chinese”.

To begin with, about what the heroine of our test is. Stylistically, the CX-4 is essentially a production version of the spectacular Koeru Concept (pictured below) unveiled at the September 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.

At the same time, the “commodity” car, it is worth noting, initially looked no less bright than the prototype, except that the front bumper was designed not so pretentiously. In 2019, the crossover underwent a planned restyling, as a result of which it acquired its current appearance in the spirit of the modern CX-5 and Mazda6.
As for the technical part, the design of the CX-4 is based on the same platform on which the well-known CX-5 crossover is built. In terms of dimensions, the “four” is longer (4637 mm versus 4555 mm) and at the same time lower than the “five” (1524 mm versus 1675 mm) with the same width, and the suspension of the cross-coupe is lowered by 14 mm: as Mazda says, for a better handling and cornering stability.

Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports

In China, the range of modifications of the CX-4 is very diverse: there, the cross-coupe is equipped with petrol engines of the Skyactiv-G family with a working volume of 2.0 and 2.5 liters and a power of 158 and 192 hp. With. respectively. A car with a 2.0-liter engine is strictly front-wheel drive, the gearbox is a 6-speed “mechanics” or “automatic”. The 2.5 engine is equipped by default with an “automatic” and a proprietary all-wheel drive transmission i-Activ-AWD.
However, only 2.0-liter front-wheel drive cars with automatic transmission are currently supplied to Russia. It was this “Tse-X-fourth” in the middle version of the Entry that we had on the test.

Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports

Skyactiv-G 2.0 engine with 158 hp With. on the CX-4 – from the popular crossover CX-5 in Russia. Fuel approved for use – with an octane rating of at least 91
The first and most important thing that catches your eye (and is felt to the touch) when you find yourself in the cabin of such a CX-4 is a very strange, by Russian standards, car equipment. In the roof, for example, there is a transparent electric sunroof, the ceiling is sheathed (in the fashion of the time) with black fabric; the crossover is also equipped with power windows “in a circle”, “electric handbrake” with the Auto-Hold function, six airbags, cast 17-inch wheels, LED headlights. At the same time, the steering wheel is with a plastic rim (although this plastic does not cause any visual or tactile irritation), the fabric seats do not have electric heating, there is no automatic climate control system – only an ordinary air conditioner.

Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports

The interior of the test CX-4 is stylish in appearance, but the equipment, to put it mildly, is not rich: there is a sunroof, but there is no automatic climate control and electric seat heating, and the steering wheel rim is made of plastic
However, the management of the “climate” is not ideal! Three rotating handles – large, grippy, with well-balanced efforts. They set the temperature and intensity of blowing and regulate the distribution of air flows; air conditioning, recirculation mode and heating of the rear window and side mirrors are turned on by pressing the central parts of the “kruglyashes” – everything is simple and very convenient! And most importantly, you can literally adjust the microclimate in the cabin blindly, practically without being distracted from the road.

Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports

Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel importsTest drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports

And the climate system works efficiently: the interior quickly warms up after a night of parking in the cold, and the windshield, heated only and exclusively by the flow of warm air, thaws faster than you have time to sweep the snow from the car. Manufacturers of most popular Chinese brands of crossovers have a lot to learn from their Japanese colleagues!..

Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports

The dashboard is visually simple, clear and not overloaded with unnecessary divisions and icons. All the information a driver needs at a glance
With regard to the ergonomics of the driver’s seat and the relative position of the steering wheel, seats and pedals, the Japanese could also give master classes to representatives of brands from China. Behind the wheel of the CX-4, both the frail “meter with a cap” and the center of the basketball club will comfortably settle down.
Behind the latter, however, not everyone will comfortably accommodate: the second row does not indulge in special space. In addition (again, due to the features of the test car configuration), the rear passengers only have an armrest with cup holders as additional amenities: there are no air ducts or USB connectors on the back of the central tunnel (all this appears only in more expensive versions) . But the height of the “sofa” pillow and the angle of the backrest are well adjusted. And the roof does not press on the crown.

Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel importsTest drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports

“By myself” with a height of 193 cm, I was able to sit down, but I had to literally squeeze into the back seat. And sit without any margin of knee room. But the roof did not press on the crown

Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel importsTest drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports

Trunk volume – to put it mildly, not a record: 400 liters “under the shelf”. It makes no sense to load above it: on bumps, the luggage will quickly begin to hit the heavily littered rear window. In the underground at the CX-4 – “dokatka”
Add to this by no means a record trunk volume (400 liters “under the shelf” with the rear seats installed) – and it turns out that from a purely practical point of view, the new CX-4 looks like a somewhat strange choice. “For what then are they asking for almost three million?” – a potential buyer of a Chinese crossover of comparable size will ask a logical question, which is innumerable in our market after the departure of most European and Japanese brands from it. After a weekend spent in the company of this Mazda, we know the answer. Moreover: we dare to say that it’s not a sin to pay more for this car – just for the way it rides! ..
The two-liter Skyactiv-G is not impressive only on paper (just think, some 158 forces at 6400 rpm and 202 Newtons at four thousand!). In reality, he is “lucky” as if under the hood there are at least 2.5 liters and 180–190 hp. With.! Working in tandem with a smart, smoothly and logically switching “automatic”, the motor spins merrily and actively accelerates the car both from a stop and from the move, both in the city and on the highway. It behaves most provocatively at speeds above three thousand, but there is no lack of traction on the “bottom” either!

Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports

To match the perfectly tuned power unit and chassis. “Tse-X-fourth” easily and naturally dives into turns, tenaciously keeps the trajectory on an arc and seems to urge to increase the pace in each new knitting of turns. At the same time, the steering wheel is moderately light (and not “pinched”, which is a sin of many modern Asian cars) and extremely informative: you don’t know what is happening with the steerable wheels while driving the CX-4, but you literally feel it with your fingers. Even the studded winter tires in which the test crossover was “shod” did not lubricate the pleasure of driving at all.
It was also a pleasant surprise that the smoothness of the ride was by no means sacrificed for handling: the CX-4 suspension easily deals with most typical Russian road adversities like potholes in the asphalt or broken tram tracks. And the “meaty” tires 225/65 R17 in size smooth out not only various small things, but also technological joints on overpasses. Only when passing speed bumps, the rear shock absorbers, no, no, and even choose the compression stroke. On the killed highway, which has not known any repair for years, except for the patching, you can not only calmly drive at a decent cruising speed, but also overtake passing trucks.

Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports

By and large, the only serious claim to the CX-4 in terms of driving performance is insufficient (by the standards of the class) noise isolation. And if the sound of the engine, which is clearly distinguishable in almost all modes, does not annoy at all against the background of excellent dynamics, then the tire rumble at some point begins to tire. Even with a discount on spikes. However, this problem is typical for many Japanese cars.

What is the upshot?

At the time of preparation of this material (late March – early April), the new Mazda CX-4 was available in Russia mainly in three versions: Entry, Core and High. The price range was from 2,750,000 to 3,650,000 rubles (excluding various types of credit and trade-in programs). The test crossover cost at that time 2,990,000 rubles.

Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports

That is, this car is quite, as marketers say, “in the market”! We officially no longer have the previously popular “Japanese” and “Europeans” – only “Koreans” and “Chinese” remain. However, they cost about the same, while the former go and find them at the declared prices (the problem of dealer markups has not gone away), and the latter do not even come close to delivering the driving pleasure that you get in the CX-4. As for the spare parts, there should be no problems with them, since the cross-coupe is largely unified with the CX-5 crossover, which is very common in our country, in terms of the main components and assemblies.
In general, for those who are looking for a decent alternative to the Chinese crossovers that are actively filling all possible niches in the primary market, the new Mazda CX-4 should definitely be on the list of priorities! ..

Test drive Mazda CX-4: the star of the era of parallel imports

We thank the Klyuchavto car holding and the Audi Center Vitebsky car dealership for the car provided for the test.

Photo: Roman Ostanin / Dvizhok magazine; Mazda Motor press office

29 April 2023
142
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