Tribute Series III
1 Jul 2006
MAZDA’S compact SUV scored a number of changes designed to keep the monocoque bodied 4WD wagon competitive against newer competition during 2006.
Included is a smoother nose cone featuring redesigned headlights, a bigger grille, revised bumpers and a re-sculptured bonnet.
Chrome is used more liberally, a raised section adds a bit more oomph to the upper edge of the front bumper, several new colours hit the scene, the alloy wheels are different and the exterior mirrors now have LED turn signals.
The latter contribute to reduced wind noise. Other noise, vibration and harshness countermeasures include a new fan and alternator, an aluminium engine head cover and repositioned water pump.
Tribute trainspotters will instantly recognise a revamped dashboard, mainly incorporating a new instrumentation pack and console layout.
Mazda has also moved the automatic gearlever from the steering column to the floor, thus necessitating a redesigned lower console section.
On the safety front the Tribute finally receives a rear centre lap/sash seatbelt and accompanying headrest.
All models also gain climate control air-conditioning, MP3-compatible CD/radio audio, rear disc brakes and larger front discs (up from 278mm to 303mm).
Anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Electronic Brake Assist are also present.
Suspension front the dampers have been retuned for improved ride quality while the powered rack-and-pinion steering’s centre-feel has been boosted for better responses.
There has been some Australian influence in the Mazda’s recalibrated dynamics, courtesy of Ford Australia’s input on the Tribute’s fraternal Escape twin.
Otherwise the outgoing model’s MacPherson strut and coil spring front and multi-link and coil spring rear suspension configuration is retained.
The entry-level 2.3L uses a revised version of the Mazda6-sourced 2.3-litre twin-cam four-cylinder engine.
Now Euro III emissions compliant thanks to a new catalytic converter, the 2261cc unit delivers its 109kW of power at 6000rpm and 199Nm of torque at 4000rpm.
Also Euro III compliant is a revamped version of the existing 3.0-litre twin-cam 24-valve Duratec V6 engine. It produces 152kW at 6000rpm and 276Nm at 4750rpm.
Averaging 10.5 litres per 100km, most buyers will shun the scant 0.4L/100km fuel-consumption advantage the 2.3-litre unit has over the Ford-sourced V6.
In most conditions, the torque in the Tribute continues to be channelled exclusively to the front wheels.
However an automatic on-demand 4WD system using a system that Mazda calls ‘Rotary Blade Coupling’ will send up to 50 per cent of drive to the rear wheels when sensors detect traction slippage.
Unlike the previously Japanese-sourced Tribute and Escape, both are now built alongside each other in Taiwan.
When it was new