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MPV features new Mazda look

Power boost: A 3.0-litre V6 replaces the 2.5-litre unit in Mazda's MPV.

The key change to Mazda's updated MPV is under the skin

17 Apr 2002

THIS is the updated Mazda MPV we will see in Australia in June.

It features a new front grille, headlights and aerodynamic bumpers, to lock the MPV into the new Mazda look.

But the most important change is under the skin, where a 3.0-litre V6 replaces the current 2.5-litre unit, boosting power from 129kW to 145kW and torque from 227Nm to 267Nm.

The MZI V6 is a 24-valve, double overhead camshaft unit that, encouragingly for a people-mover, produces 90 per cent of maximum torque from as low as 2000rpm. It is also clean enough to gain low emission vehicle status from the Japanese transport ministry.

The engine is also mated to a newly developed electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission system, replacing the old four-speed. The connection between the engine and gearbox is now more rigid, which Mazda claims reduces engine noise.

The body and suspension have also been made more rigid while damper force has been reduced and smoothed out. There are also larger 16-inch front brake discs while traction control is now standard equipment.

Inside, the Japanese version of the upgraded MPV has newly developed electric sliding doors that open and close at the touch of a button, and a collapsible centre table. The new rear entertainment system enables passengers in the back seat to enjoy the TV images received by the navigation system situated at the front.

But none of these features will be seen in Australia. Nor will we be getting the 2.3-litre four-cylinder or four-wheel drive versions on sale in Japan.

Convenience features we should see include improved seatback tables on the second row of passenger seats, seatback assist grips on both sides and hooks for holding shopping bags.

Audio control switches are mounted on the steering wheel to allow the driver to make adjustments to the settings while driving.

While pricing is yet to be set, Mazda Australia does say just one specification level will continue to be offered.

But it is possible the boost in engine capacity could mean a boost in price from the current $46,990 for the MPV.

Nevertheless, Mazda will be looking for a sales rise when the new version arrives. For the first three months of 2002, 175 examples of the big seven-seater were sold, well down on the 239 sold in the same period last year.

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