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Mazda’s all-new MPV hits Japan

People-mover: All-new Mazda MPV seats eight people.

Australia could be the next market off the sales rank for Mazda’s redesigned MPV

14 Feb 2006

MAZDA’S all-new MPV people-mover was officially launched in Japan last week following its October Tokyo motor show debut, and Australia could be next on its global agenda if approved for release Down Under.

Currently under consideration by Mazda Australia, which will decide its future before mid-year, the all-new MPV is powered by a 120kW/210Nm version of Mazda’s MZR 2.3-litre four-cylinder.

But a rejuvenated Australian people-mover market – which will see Honda’s Odyssey, the Mitsubishi Grandis and Kia’s new Grand Carnival joined by an all-new Tarago in March and a redesigned Carnival in late 2006 – could convince Mazda Oz to import a more focused 180kW/350Nm turbocharged version, complete with all-wheel drive.

Once a dominant player in the Australian people-mover segment, MPV attracted just 36 customers for 4.6 per cent of the segment last month, to be bettered by Odyssey (337 sales), Carnival (181), Tarago (89), Voyager (63) and Avensis (49).

But the turbocharged model, which goes on sale in Japan on March 20 and will be joined there by a turbo AWD version on April 15, could provide the point of difference Mazda needs to compete successfully in the rejuvenated seven-seater passenger car class.

On sale since August 1999, the current LW-series MPV was facelifted in June 2002, when its 129kW/227Nm 2.5-litre V6 was replaced by a 152kW/227Nm 3.0-litre version, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.

The arrival of an upgraded model in January 2004 and a subsequent price drop from $50,855 to $44,990 have lifted the MPV’s popularity.

But the third-generation model will bring MPV – one of Japan’s original people-movers that dates back to 1990 – into a new league by featuring a longer 1950mm wheelbase, 60mm-lower roofline, 785mm-wide sliding side doors, higher-quality interior and improved safety features.

22 center imageIt measures 4860mm long, 1850mm wide and 1685mm high and has wide 1610/1605mm wheel tracks plus ground clearance of 155mm. It features a distinct new wheel-at-each-corner stance, two exterior designs ("High Style" and "Sports Style") and has a kerb weight ranging from 1720kg to 1800kg.

First revealed at last October’s Tokyo motor show, the new MPV also offers increased body rigidity, multi-link rear suspension, Mazda’s Precrash Safety System, Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS) and the Mazda Advanced Impact Distribution and Absorption System (MAIDAS).

MPV’s optional MZR 2.3-litre Direct Injection Spark Ignition turbo engine is also the first turbocharged engine to meet the Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SU-LEV) standard in Japan.

In its front-wheel drive application, it delivers average fuel consumption of 10.2L/100km and comes with a new six-speed ‘Activematic’ automatic transmission (also standard on AWD models). However, lesser MPVs feature a four-speed auto as standard.

This is offset by a greater eight-seat capacity, arranged in three rows with the third row split 60/40 and the centre row offering optional "Super Relax Seats" which slide and fully fold.

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