Breaking the ice


Breaking the ice

Watch Mazda test its i-Activsense and i-Activ all-wheel drive technologies to the limit (and beyond) at New Zealand’s Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds.

The Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds (SHPG), high on the South Island of New Zealand, is one of the handling tracks that Mazda uses every year to enable its cars to feel sporty and safe, even in the most treacherous conditions. A lot of the work the Mazda engineers do at the SHPG—also known as the Snow Farm by locals—takes place in the dead of night. That’s not just because top-secret prototype testing is best carried out in the dark, but also because the super-freezing, zero-grip conditions are far more consistent during the nocturnal hours.

The Snow Farm runs 24 hours a day, with as many as 300 engineers from around the world working on-site across 16 individual test grounds. As SHPG’s Steve Gould points out: “What we offer here is the worst that things can get for a vehicle; a place where there is no grip, where a car theoretically can’t stop and can’t take off again.” It is here that Mazda fine-tunes its advanced i-Activsense and i-Activ all-wheel drive technologies.

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Words Stephen Corby / Images Simon Davidson

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Breaking the ice

Make sure your next car is one of the safest vehicles on (and off) the road