wow look at me now

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

For those of you who spend any time in bars or shebeens, have you ever noticed how some customers have the habit of throwing their car keys on the bar counter or table when sitting down?

But it's not just every customer.

It's normally those driving what is often referred to as prestige vehicles - the BMWs, Audis and Mercedes-Benzs.

Whether it's to make a statement to those already present or to the bar lady with the Dolly Parton-like boobs, I don't know, but for hours they can sit there playing with their car remote while savouring some expensive drink.

I must admit though I'm yet to see a Tata owner carry out the same ritual and proclaim with his actions: "Look at me, I drive a bottom of the range Tata Indica that costs a mere R75000!"

Which brings me to Mazda. History has proven them to be a producer of reliable, value-for-money, functional motor vehicles. But when it came to the design stakes, in my opinion, they lagged behind the opposition. My, how things have changed! However, it is very difficult for such vehicles as Mazda6 and Honda Accord to compete in this segment. They are failing to make their mark not because they are bad cars, but simply because they compete in the same league as German sedans.

With the recent introduction of the Mazda2 (SA Car of the Year 2008), Mazda3 and more recently the new-generation Mazda6, the Japanese manufacturer has definitely changed Ugly Betty into a beauty even the Italians would be proud of. The Mazda6 range is home to four derivatives (R219990 - R278990). On test we had the 2,5litre Dynamic Activmatic (R271990).

This particular vehicle comes with all your standard luxury features and then some. The announcement that the Mazda6 2,5 Individual had been selected as a finalist for the South African car of the year 2009 did not come as a surprise.

Cruise control, tiptronic automatic gearbox with shift paddles on the steering wheel, Bose sound system with eight speakers, electronic seats, the list goes on.

Around town it's a particularly easy drive and the responsive power steering makes parking easy.

For those who like weekends away, a boot the size of a cave that even Osama bin Laden could get lost in should be sufficient for your suitcases!

With many cars in the various segments, it often comes down to the extras included in the price that makes your choice slightly easier. Mazda obviously realise this and offer a 4-year/120000km warranty, a 5-year/90000km service plan and, to top it off, a 3-year road side assistance plan. Peace of mind looks like part of the deal.