NZ Proving ground: Breaking the ice


Breaking the ice

Watch Mazda tests its car’s iActivsense and iActiv All-Wheel Drive technologies to the limit (and beyond) at New Zealand’s Southern Hemisphere Proving Ground

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

For that reason, the Snow Farm runs 24 hours a day, with as many as 300 engineers from around the world working on site across 16 individual proving 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 Mazda fine tunes its advanced i-Activsense and i-Activ All-Wheel Drive technologies.

Story Stephen Corby / Photography Simon Davidson

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