Fleet News

Mazda Premacy



##mzdprcy.jpg--right##MAZDA may be on the road to recovery, but before we see any significant new models, it has given its mini-MPV, the Premacy, a mid-term facelift, and added a 2.0-litre engine to the range.

At the top of the range is a 2.0 Sport model, the result of keenness to attract younger drivers to the car.

In a market currently dominated by the stylish Citroen Xsara Picasso, the original mini-MPV the Renault Scenic, and the versatile seven-seat Vauxhall Zafira, Mazda would appear to be up against it.

But sales targets for 2002 are modest at 2,300 (the company expects to have sold 1,700 Premacy models in the UK by the end of 2001), although Mazda expects to exceed the target, believing that merely reaching them would be a failure. It will be backed by a major TV advertising campaign for the brand starting in January.

Despite a growing diesel market in the UK, the company expects 13 per cent of Premacy models sold next year to be the 99bhp 2.0 TD. Recognising the trend spurred on by an appetite for keeping company car tax bills to a minimum, the figure is ahead of this year's 9 per cent diesel mix for the Premacy.

Mazda UK managing director James Muir said: 'We haven't got any diesel credentials, and won't have any until our new common rail diesel engine is launched in the MPV and Mazda 6. These engines will also comply with Euro IV emissions criteria.'

Good news for company car drivers in future, and we hope it will be worth the wait.

Mazda has a tough task ahead of it in 2002. While much of 2001 was spent managing the transition from its original UK distributor Mazda Cars, run by MCL, to Mazda Motors UK - a division of Mazda's European operation - the brand and the dealers suffered.

But from August 1, dealer margins were increased and prices were cut to jump-start sales of existing stock - most of which was compliant with Euro II emissions legislation and would have been worthless after December 31. Muir said: 'The acquisition of Mazda's UK division gives Mazda Motors Europe control over 65 per cent of our European output, and by the end of this year it will have control over 85 per cent of our European markets.

'The UK was a major and significant development in that process. We are going from being a German-centric organisation to one of national sales companies. It is our intention that the UK becomes Mazda's biggest market in terms of profitability.

'We have transferred employees across to our new company, but we are also in the process of recruiting people from outside. It has been a difficult period for Mazda and for our dealers.

'We have heard people say that Mazda has lost its way in terms of products. My job is to get Mazda back on an even keel and we are bringing forward new products.'

There appear to be few changes in the 2002 Premacy compared with the original, although headlamp units have clear lenses, the rear light clusters are funkier and top models gain saucy alloy wheels while the Sport wears a body kit. The existing 1.8-litre petrol engine and 2.0 turbodiesel continue, and are joined by a 2.0-litre petrol version.

Equipment levels are high with four airbags, ABS and air conditioning across the range and prices targeted at the Renault Scenic. The Premacy has a roomy interior, helped by its high roofline, with individual rear seats. Top models gain aircraft-style trays in the back of the front seats, while luggage space is generous.

Its high driving position and large glass area give an excellent view and the quality of materials and build are excellent.

The 2.0 turbodiesel, while providing ample torque for lazy fourth-gear overtaking, is particularly noisy at low speeds, although it settles down over about 40mph.

While the standard Premacy handles tidily - it's just about as sharp as any other car in its class - the tweaked suspension of the Sport model makes the car more agile and responsive.

Despite its overall competence, there is nothing to make you 'want' the Premacy over its excellent rivals. But it is good to drive - apart from the diesel cacophony - and well built and practical.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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