Mazda Drive

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Winnipeg Men takes a test drive

By Jon Waldman

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Over the summer, Winnipeg was host to a number of events that gave its citizens the opportunity to do the kind of things they don’t often get the opportunity to take part in.

Watching short plays of troupes from across the globe, sampling cuisine from nations you may not have even heard of, and test driving cars on closed tracks as the summer eve sun begins to set.

Oh, that last one? Yeah, that one’s not on the calendar often, but it happened for a select group of Winnipeggers in late August as Mazda Canada set up shop by Assiniboia Downs for a by-invite-only test drive session of the 2015 line of cars. From sport to transport and a few rides in between, the new models were out for testing on short circuits that mimicked the various hazards a Winnipeg driver might incur on the roads (well, except for darting squirrels).

A disclaimer before I get into a breakdown on each car (okay maybe poor choice of words there). By no means am I a “car guy” — I can’t recite the horsepower of each engine dating back to 1960, I drive automatic 90 per cent of the time (though I love Mazda’s standard option available in most of its cars) and I’m more interested in bluetooth options than I am turning radius; so what you’re reading is the Average Joe opinion of each car.

Mazda 2

If your son or daughter is getting their own car, or if you’re a newer driver yourself, this is the car for you.

Steering on the 2 is incredibly smooth and safe and design isn’t sacrificed. Moving through the setup of pylons was a breeze as I easily maneuvered around them like I would a pothole on Osborne.

The lightweight feel might be a bit too much for some drivers though. Like I said  — it’s a good first-timer car, but it’s not a permanent set of wheels.

Mazda 3

Having already driven two Mazda 3s (including my current car) I was very familiar with the model and was well hooked on the vehicle, so there wasn’t much that I was expecting to be different for this test drive.

The 3 is one of the most stable, long-lasting vehicles on the road and the 2015 carries on the tradition. Steering was a bit stiff compared to the 2, but for a driver like myself who likes a bit of sporty feel to their ride while still having the durability of a sedan, this is the car to buy, no questions asked.

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Photo by Jon Waldman

CX5

For the size of vehicle, the CX5 handled extremely well. I’ve pretty much driven sedans my entire driving life, so I was a bit hesitant to get behind the wheel of this large-size vehicle, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I experienced. Truly, the CX5 is the car for anyone phasing into the life of the parental transporter. Yes, its body is large, but you won’t feel like you’re driving a large-body (well, at least until you try to parallel park).

What amazed me most was the suspension on the CX5. As I drove over mogul-style bumps, I barely felt a thing in the driver’s seat, something that definitely is a point to consider on Winnipeg roads.

CX9

It’s rare that I get behind the wheel of a “transport” vehicle (the PC way to say soccer wagon), but by comparison to the CX5, the CX9 felt like a lumbering beast.

I felt like I was getting myself behind the wheel of a vehicle that was too big for normal, everyday driving. Sure — as a rental for going up to cottage country I could see it being extremely useful, as I could if I was carpool for hockey — but taking this ride to the office would feel awkward.

I will say this about the CK9: I appreciated the anti-skid technology, something that would definitely come in handy on Winnipeg roads. Slick roads on a fresh snow day would be no match for the vehicle, even moreso than in the CX5 (which also has the technology).

MX3

Roadster! Easily the most popular car of the day, the MX3 was the lone convertible on the scene. Throw practicality out the window for this two-seater and just bask in the glory of sport.

Here’s the thing about the MX3 though  — I’ve either been behind the wheel of or been a passenger in convertibles from two or three other companies and none compared to this ride. Handling on the MX3 was easy, especially in the slalom-style portion of the track. Naturally, acceleration was also optimal.

To put it one way, the MX3 was the only car I asked the price of when the test drive was done. Yeah, it was out of range but it also showed just how fun, yet secure the MX3 is.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, the decision comes down to your purpose and need. In this light, two cars that are most likely to attract your spending dollar are the 3 and CX5. Having said that, the 2 definitely has its audience, as does the MX3.