How effective is Mazda i-Activsense and more importantly, how intrusive is it?
We’ve recently had the chance to spend a lot of time with Mazda’s i-Activsense system and test it in all sorts of conditions. We were able to use each of its features on the highway, in traffic, in the city, and in parking lots. We’ve tested i-Activsense in the Mazda CX-5 and Mazda CX-9 for months in both summer and winter, and we were able to compare it to Nissan’s ProPilot and Honda’s Honda Sensing which we also tested long term and will report on shortly.
In other, more simple terms, we’ve had the chance to test the i-Activsense system in every possible setting and we’re in a good position to tell you that it is one of the best systems when it comes to letting you actually drive and not being too nervous. It’s lacking a few features of the ProPilot system, however.
What is I-Activsense?
Mazda i-Activsense is a group of active safety features designed to warn the driver of any potential dangers and intervene if needed. Unlike Nissan ProPilot and Honda Sensing, however, i-Activsense doesn’t include the same exact features from one new Mazda model to the next, but the gist of the features are as follows:
Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go Function
MRCC is Mazda’s active cruise control system. Like other similar systems, the system is active when cruise control is active. It gives the driver the ability to choose between various distances that the vehicle will keep between it and the vehicle ahead on the highway. If the vehicle ahead slows down or brakes suddenly, MRCC will apply the brakes to keep the pre-determined distance.
The Stop & Go function available in the Mazda CX-5 and Mazda CX-9 adds the ability to bring the vehicle to a complete stop if needed, and then with a simple tap of the accelerator MRCC will automatically re-accelerate to the previous speed if the road ahead is clear.
Smart Brake Support
The system scans the road up to 200 meters ahead. If a danger is detected and a collision is imminent, SBS will slow down the vehicle by applying the brakes.
Pedestrian detection is included in both the Mazda CX-5 and the Mazda CX-9 with i-Activsense. As the name implies, it adds the ability to detect not just cars but pedestrians as well to Mazda’s driver assistance features.
Forward Obstruction Warning
Before the Mazda vehicle applies the brakes to avoid a collision, a warning is given to the driver of the potential danger. This warning is the Forward Obstruction Warning.
Lane Departure Warning System
By scanning the lanes on the road, LDWS can sense if you’re about to go over into the other lane accidentally. The system will warn you before that happens.
Lane-keep Assist System
Should the driver not react to the warning from the LDWS system, LAS will automatically adjust the trajectory to keep you in your lane.
High Beam Control System
The system detects an oncoming vehicle when your high beams are activated and will automatically switch to low beams.
Mazda’s i-Activesense features Blind Spot Monitoring, Adaptive Front-Lighting System and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, but in most models including the Mazda CX-5 and Mazda CX-9 the above features are seperate from the actual i-Activesense package.
How Effective is it?
Now that we’ve gotten the various technologies explained and out of the way, we can look at how effective these systems are. That’s what should matter because ultimately, every automaker Mazda competes with offers the same systems. In some cases, they can be overly nervous and send a warning when the driver is in full control of the situation just because it thinks there’s a danger. The Honda Sensing system, for example is particularly nervous and it can get to be annoying in bumper to bumper traffic.
The Nissan ProPilot system has automatic lane keeping assist which means it can steer the vehicle automatically around bends. The i-Activsense system won’t do that. It will correct your trajectory lightly and Lane Trace will help keep you centered, but it won’t keep you going around the bend in the way ProPilot can.
But if you don’t want that level of intervention, the i-Activsense system may just be the best system out there. It works the way it’s supposed to, but it’s not overly anxious and doesn’t go off unless there’s truly a danger. I can’t remember how many times Honda’s Honda Sensing warned me of a lane departure or a vehicle slowing down when I was simply in traffic and close to other vehicles. In the same traffic and situations, i-Activsense remained quiet.
When it did intervene, it did so progressively and quietly. The lane-keep assist system, particularly, isn’t overly agressive in bringing you back in the right direction. The automatic braking is linear as well. The systems worked well in winter and summer and unlike the Mercedes-Benz S-Class we had in winter that went crazy with warnings and beeps when snow obstructed its sensors, we didn’t have that problem with the i-Activsense system.
Final Thoughts in i-Activesense
We’re big fans of Nissan’s ProPilot for its advanced safety features and Subaru’s Eyesight for its smoothness. We can now add i-Activesense to our list of favorite systems. As effective as you want these kinds of systems to be, it’s not as nosy and let’s you drive. It will only warn you or intervene if you weren’t going to do anything.