T HANKS to the joint agreement —or. more accurately, gentlemens' understanding
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— between the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association which limits the number of Japanese light commercials sold in Britain, Mazda is allowed an annual quota of only 3,000 units
Clearly, UK sales are not going to cause ally major upheaval, but for Mazda the problem does not end there: that 3,000 must be shared between its B2000 pick-up and E-series vans.
When Mazda introduced its revised Erange to the UK in June last year it brought in the two-litre petrol-engined E2000 van only, although the 2.2-litre diesel E2200 was offered in other European countries. The company reasoned that it made sense to major on the E2(X)0, which would easily outsell any diesel model, and avoid dividing even further its small quota.
Ever-increasing demand for dieselengined vans and "several hundred requests" from potential customers caused Mazda to change its mind.
While petrol-engined models still form the largest part of the manufacturer's van sales — its current 1985 target is 1,300 registrations — it still expects to sell some 400 diesel vans by the end of the year. It clearly sees the E2200 appealing to small operators who want a forward-control narrow bodied van.
Apart from its engine, slower rearaxle ratio and badging the E2200 has virtually the same specification as the E2000. Mazda's 48kW (64hp) R2 naturally-aspirated indirect-injection engine is not quite as advanced as Ford's 2.5-litre direct-injection Transit engine or Iveco's Di turbo Daily unit, but it has one claim to fame as the world's lightest diesel engine — only 72.3kg per litre.
The R2 has also been designed for easier servicing. Valve adjustment can be carried out with the overhead camshaft in place and valve oil seals and springs changed without lifting the head. Most aperators may not be familiar with the R2's Japanese Diesel Kiki fuel injection equipment, but Mazda has a sales and iervice agreement with Bosch. The Gerinan company supplies exchange nits and looks after the diesel fuel
ested around CAI's 85-mile van route the laden Mazda E2200 returned an overall consumption of 10.21it/100km (27.69mpg) — enough to beat the slightly heavier Talbot Express diesel and the Renault T1000D (see page 40), but not other narrow-bodied rivals such as the Toyota Ili-Ace diesel's 10.031itt100kin (28.15mpg), and the Bedford SWB diesel Midi's 9.601it/100km (29.41mpg). Running empty, however, the E2200 did much better returning 8.21it/100kin
Accelerating up to 50mph, the fully freighted E2200 is nor the fastest diesel van on the road — it is slower than the lower powered two-litre Trafic — but its 2,184cc engine certainly has impressive low-range pulling power, particularly when lull climbing. On the test hills at MIRA it restarted on a 25 per cent gradient (I in 4) without any trouble and is perfectly happy lugging down to 30niph in fifth gear, with its peak torque of I30N m (96 lbf) delivered at
Running along the motorway at top speed, however, it tended to run out of steam on slight gradients, dropping down to 65mph.
CARRYING CAPACITY While the Toyota Hi-Ace and Bedford Midi both have better tnel economy, neither can match the E2200's impressive 1,140kg payload. Even when fully laden the Mazda van adopts a level attitude and its generous front and rear axle plated weights allow a wide margin for uneven loads.
The 2.6111 wheelbase E2200's standard body also provides an excellent internal load length of 3,075111111. which is greater than the Fli-Ace's 3,055min and the long-wheelhase Midi's 2,890mm. Like the Renault Trafic, the Mazda E22(0 has a raised driving compartment
Above: A .u.inpie dashboard layout allmvs all the instruments to lie scot easily. The vinyl covered seats and door panels will be easy to keep clean, but there is very little storage spaielcur the driver. Cross cab access is not so good .
Below: The I2200 van has a spacious rear door aperture with a built-in bumper .qep. Standard specification Mantles a side loading door and two spring-loaded resthlint bars. The tailgate wash/wipe ensures vod rearzvard
floor which provides a useful built-in cargo stop.
Other nice touches are the two restraint bars behind the seats and the full-length lashing rails. Like the Renault, the E2200 also has a side loading door as standard.
There is one minus point, however. As the basic E-range model is used also as a minibus, to convert the body shell into is van Mazda welds blanking panels across the window apertures. On our rest vehicle the seams were not completely tilled in, leaving is small gap
for water to collect, and corrosion to start.
Access to the E2200's driving compartment is, like niost forward control vans, rather awkward and requires the driver to adopt a sideways approach. Once in, however, there appears to be more room than in most of its forward control rivals. This is helped by the E2200's high roof line which gives plenty or headroom. While the Mazda has the SATIle typically Japanese style or interior with its light tan vinyl seats, plastic facia and door panels, it is more -Europeanised'. than most. Instead of the usual column gearchange and umbrella handbrake there are more conventional floormounted controls.
Driving position in the E2200 is good with all controls within easy reach. The short, stubby gear lever, mounted in front of the engine hump, allows quick and precise changes and the standard five-speed box has well matched ratios. A useful addition to the dashboard is a rear door lock button which saves the driver the bother of having to take the keys our of the ignition to open or lock the top-hinged tailgate. Visibility is above average, aided by the firmly mounted wing mirrors and standard tailgate wash/wipe.
HANDLING The E22111's rack and pinion steering is light enough, but lacks precision driving dead ahead. The van is also affected by cross winds, particularly on the motorway.
The most noticeable fault occurs, however, when the van is fully laden. A rapid change in direction followed by quick correction can induce the tail, with its long rear overhang, to wag — a motion which is transmitted along the length of the van.
Laden, the Mazda van has a soft, almost wallowing, ride. On bumpy roads a fair amount of shock is transmitted to the steering wheel. Over the worst potholes this is also transmitted to the driver's seat, which, like the most forward-control vans is situated directly above the front axle. On tight corners there is also some body roll, but this is not alarming.
Unladen, the E2200 has a much
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livelier ride and the steering becomes noticeably lighter. Interior noise levels are slightly higher than most. Mazda has not added any extra noise insulation to the basic body specification and there is a clear exhaust note which becomes evident around 50mph.
During the braking tests our van pulled up straight with the minimum of hiss. On the roller brake test it recorded good overall efficiency figures. The handbrake was well up to the job, holding the laden van on a 33 per cent (I in 3) grrachent without any problems.
MAINTENANCE ACCESS To get to the engine compartment you must lift the standard passenger bench scat which doubles as the engine cover. Although the Mel injection equipment. radiator, top-up tank and battery can all be reached, the alternator is tucked away virtually out of sight and is difficult to get to. Indeed, the only way to reach it is to take out the driver's seat — as with the VW LT range — and remove the right-hand access panel. In contrast, the windscreen washer and brake fluid reservoirs are sited in the cab and are easy to top up.
If you are looking liar a narrowbodied forward control van which has an above average payload and an extra long load bed, the E2200 should be on your short list. it is easy to drive, lacks the worst aspects or Japanese-style interiors, and its price is hard to beat.
Mazda's R2 diesel engine is certainly flexible, even ir its laden fuel consumption is only average. Potential buyers, however, particularly one-van operators, must ask themselves whether their annual mileage is high enough to make the diesel option viable and if the E2200's lack of performance is acceptable.