Would it be possible to experience first-class service while driving through Jakarta’s congested roads?
Well, when you are driving the Mazda 8, you can experience a first-class atmosphere, especially if you need to be continuously on the road. The Mazda 8 is Mazda’s take on the big multipurpose vehicle segment and, funnily enough, the Mazda 8 was called the Mazda MPV in the beginning. However, calling it an MPV wouldn’t sound that convincing when you are with your friends or family and they ask you what car you are driving.
The Mazda 8 sits directly in the range of medium-size luxury MPVs such as the Honda Odyssey and Mitsubishi Grandis, priced at Rp 499 million ($53,000). It’s a hefty price to pay for an MPV, but you get the kind of conveniences common with the large luxurious MPVs that are currently a status symbol in Indonesia.
So what do you get with that kind of price tag? First of all, you will get a car that is particularly large. Given the vehicle has a length of 4,860 mm, a width of 1,850 mm and a height of 1,685 mm, plus a wheelbase of 2,950 mm, you can see that it is aimed at hauling passengers in comfort.
The long wheelbase in particular helps you feel the comfort, as well as experiencing a whole lot of leg room in the middle part of the car. The two captain seats in the middle are as comfortable as a sofa and even have a foldable footrest you can use if you are tired of looking at the congested streets of Jakarta and just need to kick back and take a rest.
These captain seats are so versatile that you can move them in a number of directions, setting them closer together so you can get a sofa-like row of seats or to have a romantic setting with your loved one if you don’t want to sit that far apart from each other.
The third row can seat three adults, but the third one should be a small adult because on long-distance drives, that person is likely to grow uncomfortable from all the shoulder-rubbing. Interestingly, the third row of seats have power-folding facilities, so when you have the back seats folded and need to extract them again, you just flick a switch and it will change automatically.
But seats aren’t the only things that are electrically powered. The Mazda 8 also has two power-operated sliding doors that are very useful when passengers need to enter the car. Also, after going through security checkpoints at places like malls or hotels, you can just drive away, causing the doors to automatically close. However, these kinds of antics are not recommended because the warning buzzers will instantly chime, warning that you are driving around with open doors. So it at least has a warning system.
Operating the power sliding doors can be done through two buttons on the right side of the dashboard. This feature can also be operated with the car’s key. The key is interesting because it looks like a credit card and the car even has a keyless entrance and starting facility. Keyless entry means you just put the key in your pocket and when you get near the car you can open it by pulling the door handle. So it’s convenient when you have lots of things in your hands.
Another interesting feature is the look of the dashboard itself. The clusters have a 3-D view with a sort of depth perspective. For its entertainment system, the Mazda 8 uses an in-dash DVD unit that also has an integrated GPS — very useful when you are on the road in search of a particular address. However, some addresses are not updated on the map or can’t be found, but at least it does help you when you need to find a certain place.
The car also has a reverse camera, which assists in backing up for parking. Also available as standard is the automatic climate control, which is easy to operate and has a dual-zone climate regulating facility. Passengers in the back can also regulate the temperature.
With all this comfort for the interior, how does the car actually drive? The Mazda 8 uses a 2.3 liter DOHC 16-valve unit with Sequential Valve Timing, which can turn out a maximum power output of 163 hp at 6500 rpm and maximum torque of 203 Nm at 3500 rpm.
This power is produced by Mazda’s MZR engine, which is known for its power and efficiency. Combined with the engine is five-speed tiptronic automatic transmission, which does its part by smoothly delivering its power toward the road. Zero to 100 kph can be achieved in 13.76 seconds and 0-400 meters in 19.52 seconds with a speed of 123.14 kph.
It seems slow compared to some other cars, but when you consider that this is an MPV with a curb weight of 1,780 kg, it can be considered quite agile.
Ride-wise the Mazda 8 has a very comfortable and soft suspension setup; it can cope with all the bumps of a Jakarta street and is comfortable to ride on highways.
However, I would prefer a firmer setup for the suspension because it can be floaty during high-speed overtaking or driving. But no need to fear because the 16-inch alloy wheels with 215/65 R16 size tires hold the car very tightly on the road. Besides that, it also has ABS-EBD as standard, plus six air bags for additional safety.
So what can I conclude after driving the Mazda 8?
It’s a very comfortable car when driving long distances. Driving in Jakarta would be a little bit challenging because of its sheer size, but when you have a driver and don’t like driving yourself, this would be a very comfortable car to take you from your home to the office or other functions. The vehicle offers first-class comfort for the price you have to pay.