Technology promises to change the car buying experience

Mazda is giving its U.K. customers a chance to wring some zoom zoom out of the new CX-5 on the Longcross test track in Surrey, no helmets required. Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen, right? Not when the experience happens via virtual reality.

“With virtual reality our aim is to create a sense of oneness with the car through an immersive experience,” says Kim Crawford, Mazda U.K. Marketing Communications Manager. “You literally get a test drive experience on a track, whilst sat inside the all-new Mazda CX-5 without leaving the building.” U.K. residents are encouraged to check out the new tech at four select Mazda shopping centers, including Bullring, Birmingham, August 5th and 6th, Trafford Centre, Manchester, August 12th and 13th, Bluewater, Kent, August 19th and 20th, and Braehead, Glasgow, September 2nd and 3rd. And while the 175-horsepower SUV isn’t exactly the Japanese automaker’s most adrenaline-inducing model on offer, the virtual experience should be a big step up from the normal test drive routine on public roads. Which begs the question – how will technology change the car buying experience in general? Read on for our take.

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Well, it’s about time. The car buying experience hasn’t changed a whole lot in the last half century, so it’s always refreshing to see a major make adding a little high-tech gloss to draw in potential customers. If the CX-5 virtual test drive works out, we’d love to see Mazda also incorporate models like the new ND MX-5 on the digital race track.

2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS High Resolution Exterior
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Porsche 911 GT2 RS debut during the Forza Motorsport 7 event.

Indeed, the world of cars is changing at a furious pace. We’re already seeing major car debuts taking place in video games, with one example including the reveal of the new Porsche 911 GT2 RS.

Indeed, the world of cars is changing at a furious pace. We’re already seeing major car debuts taking place in video games, with one example including the reveal of the new Porsche 911 GT2 RS at the E3 expo in Los Angeles a few months back. It’s a major break from the normal auto show sheet pull, and it heralds a time when eager fans will gobble up their respective source of passion outside the confines of the “real world.”

I’m imagining going on a virtual test drive on your couch via a personal VR rig, then downloading the right serial number and activation code onto a thumb drive, which you then take to the local 3D print shop to print out your new car. Complete with all the customized bits and pieces you want, of course.

What do you think? Does that sound like a future you want to experience? Want nothing to do with it? Think it’ll actually be nothing like that? Let us know in the comments.

References

2018 Mazda CX-5

2017 Mazda CX-5 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our review on the Mazda CX-5.

2018 Mazda MX-5

2016 Mazda MX-5 High Resolution Exterior
- image 614558

Read our review on the Mazda MX-5.

Press release

Mazda is bringing its new compact SUV to some of Britain’s most popular retail attractions this summer, offering shoppers the chance to see the car in the metal, and experience an immersive virtual reality test drive.

Using VR goggles whilst seated in the car, visitors to the Mazda stand can choose from either a driver’s or passenger’s perspective as they enjoy a thrilling virtual drive around the famous Longcross test track in Surrey. Available on a first come first served basis and free to all, Mazda’s simulated drive takes to the challenging tarmac of the test rack used by many of the UK’s car manufacturers and magazines for vehicle testing.

Shoppers visiting the Mazda stand can also request an interactive digital brochure sent instantaneously via email or SMS. Commenting on the all-new CX-5 shopping centre tour, Mazda UK Marketing Communications Manager, Kim Crawford said “with virtual reality our aim is to create a sense of oneness with the car through an immersive experience. You literally get a test drive experience on a track, whilst sat inside the all-new Mazda CX-5 without leaving the building. We hope this will bring prospective customers much closer to the vehicle itself, allowing them to appreciate the quality of both the interior and exterior of the car.”

Delivering new levels of style, refinement and driving pleasure, the all-new Mazda CX-5 provides unmistakably premium levels of comfort and equipment, while at the same time improving on the class-leading handling precision and driver involvement of the outgoing car. Available in two highly-specified trim levels, the ten model UK range starts at just £23,695. Both Mazda’s SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual and SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmissions feature in the range, as does the latest generation of Mazda’s intelligent i-ACTIV all-wheel drive (AWD) system.

Powered by a familiar range of SKYACTIV engines, the 2.0-litre 165ps SKYACTIV-G petrol engine is available in SE-L Nav and Sport Nav trim and is offered exclusively with front-wheel drive and Mazda’s six-speed SKYACTIV-MT manual gearbox. Making up the bulk of the range, the popular 2.2-litre 150ps SKYACTIV-D diesel is available with front-wheel drive and i-ACTIV AWD and comes with a choice of SKYACTIV-MT or SKYACTIV-Drive gearbox.

Sitting at the top of the range, the flagship 2.2-litre 175ps SKYACTIV-D comes exclusively in Sport Nav trim and is equipped with Mazda’s i-ACTIV AWD, and like the lower output diesel, it can be matched to either automatic or manual transmission.

Other highlights include two new optional paint colours: Soul Red Crystal Metallic and Machine Grey Metallic. Both colours use Mazda’s unique three-layer TAKUMINURI painting technology, and compared to previous CX-5’s Soul Red Metallic paint, Soul Red Crystal increases brightness by approximately 20 per cent and depth by 50 per cent.

The all-new Mazda CX-5 shopping centre tour will be at the following venues:

Bullring, Birmingham 5-6th August
Trafford Centre, Manchester 12th-13th August
Bluewater, Kent 19th -20th August
Braehead, Glasgow 2nd-3rd September

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