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Motoring: The rising popularity of the Mazda Axela in Kenya

 A 2015 edition of the Axela trades between Sh1.5m and Sh2m in Kenya. [File, Standard]

The Mazda Axela, a captivating mid-size car hailing from the renowned multinational automaker Mazda Motor Corporation in Hiroshima, Japan, has experienced a remarkable rise in popularity within the Kenyan market.

Over the past four years, its average price has appreciated from just under Sh1 million to the current value of nearly Sh1.8 million.

Enthusiasts of the Mazda brand assert that the Axela possesses an enduring appeal, never fading from vogue. This tested and proven sedan or hatchback, known as the Mazda 3 in some regions, is celebrated for its excellent value for money, although some argue it may be slightly overpriced, particularly in the Kenyan context.

What it offers

The Mazda Axela offers a range of engine sizes, including a 2,000cc petrol engine, 1,500cc petrol engine, 2,200cc turbodiesel engine, and a potent 2,500cc petrol engine. Moreover, customers can opt for either manual or automatic transmission according to their preferences.

In Kenya, the 1,500cc Axela enjoys significant popularity due to its fuel efficiency and cost-effective maintenance. A 2015 model of the Axela typically trades in local car markets between Sh1.5m and Sh1.8 million.

This specific year model holds a particular appeal due to Kenya's maximum eight-year age policy for imported vehicles, affording it a competitive edge in terms of pricing.

The nomenclature of the Axela derives from the combination of the English words "accelerate" and "excellent." It aptly describes the vehicle's performance, with the 1,500cc Axela accelerating from 0 kilometers per hour (Kph) to 100Kph in 10.8 seconds.

Meanwhile, the 2-liter version accomplishes this in 9.2 seconds, the 2.2-liter turbodiesel Axela reaches 100Kph in approximately nine seconds, and the 2.5-liter Axela, the most potent of the lot, accelerates from 0 to 100Kph in a mere 7.9 seconds.

The Axela's horsepower figures vary, with the 1.5-liter Axela producing 109 horsepower, the 2-liter version generating 136 horsepower, the 2.2-liter turbodiesel engine offering 150 horsepower with enhanced torque, and the rare 2.5-liter Axela delivering an impressive 184 horsepower. These power figures make the Axela suitable for confident overtaking maneuvers.

When it comes to fuel efficiency, the popular 1,500cc Axela achieves approximately 13 kilometers per liter (km/l) on highway driving, with figures reducing to around 10km/l during urban travel.

The 2.2-liter turbodiesel Axela boasts better fuel economy, achieving around 11km/l in urban conditions and 14km/l on highways.

It's important to note that individual driving habits can influence fuel economy, with aggressive driving leading to less favorable results.

Its Drawbacks

One drawback of the Axela is its limited ground clearance, measuring at just 5.3 inches.

This makes it less suitable for navigating high bumps and muddy roads, particularly given that many models feature only two-wheel drive capabilities. As such, it may not be the ideal choice for those frequently venturing into rural areas.

The Axela comes equipped with a 55-liter fuel tank.

In Nairobi, with petrol priced at Sh217.36 per litre, filling the tank costs Sh12,000, while diesel-powered Axelas require Sh11,000 to top up the tank at the current Sh205.48per liter diesel prices.

With an average consumption of 12km per litre on highways and accounting for occasional traffic congestion and aggressive overtaking, a full tank on the Axela can take you slightly over 600 kilometers.

With a minimum empty weight of 1,190 kilograms and the ability to carry a maximum load of 600 kilograms, the Axela is versatile in its capabilities.

Car dealers and drivers alike commend the Axela for its road handling, sporty feel, spacious interior, and functional infotainment system. It is most celebrated for its fuel economy compared to vehicles in its class.

However, its low ground clearance remains a challenge, deterring drivers frequently navigating uneven terrain. Some owners have had to change the wheel size to accommodate rough roads, while others avoid pothole-ridden routes entirely.

Furthermore, the vehicle's boot space is comparatively limited, with a 351-liter capacity, smaller than its competitors like the Volkswagen Golf.

The vehicle has also been associated with a few common issues, including rattling noises from the rear, thermostat problems, misfiring and loss of power with age, transmission issues in older models, and brake problems in Axelas from 2011 to 2015.

To address some of these issues, owners are required to replace sway bar links or address brake pad misalignments.

Despite these drawbacks, the Axela continues to gain popularity among Kenyan motorists, positioning itself as a strong contender in a competitive market.

Its rivals include the Toyota Axio, Nissan Sylphy, Volkswagen Jetta, Suzuki Siaz, and Honda Civic.

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