And Mazda CX-60 diesel in Morocco: from the High Atlas to the Dades Gorges.  This is how it was

And Mazda CX-60 diesel in Morocco: from the High Atlas to the Dades Gorges. This is how it was

MARRAKESH – The two-day tourist endurance race with nearly ten thousand laps designed by Mazda has drawn a spectacular ring around the landscape of the High Atlas, winding for 1,150 kilometers between canyons, palm trees, kasbahs and ksour. As in the previous Epic Drive in Anatolia, we cover the road behind the wheel of the Cx-60 SUV. which, thanks to the proven all-wheel drive and the 6-cylinder 3.3L e-Skyactive D diesel engine with 249 horsepower, will prove to be a comfortable, well-finished and spacious companion.

The schedule found its beginning and epilogue in Marrakesh. The departure of the caravan was done in parallel with the call of the preacher as the dawn illuminated the fortified walls built at the beginning of the 12th century to protect Medina; today the ancient neighborhood of the famous area where the soukh (market) overflows with goods, colors, smells and people. Outside the city walls, the different shades of red of one of Morocco’s four royal cities, with towers, rose gardens and tall palm trees, await the architecture and colors that follow on a short but intense journey.

The first thrills arrive two hours after departure when the dizzying climb to the Tiz n’Test pass offers great views of the rugged mountain range at 2,100 meters above sea level. The road built by the French in the 1920s to open a trade route with the Sahara, will then descend into the fertile plains of Souss with orange trees, almond trees, pomegranate trees and other fruit trees imported into the Maghreb by the Moors.

Driving up the trail, every look out the windows hides vertical climbs, most of which are unobstructed. Although the road is sometimes narrow, the road is in acceptable condition and the absence of traffic reduces the possibility of bad conditions. Once you reach the trail it will be possible to admire Jbel Toubkal (the highest mountain in the Maghreb) while scanning the horizon in front of steaming mint tea, the peaks of the Anti Atlas emerge from the mist.

However, the table is tight; ten to twelve hours behind the wheel a day. The route gradually becomes more private as it approaches the desert areas and goes up towards Ouarzazate – a town associated with the former Foreign Legion in Morocco. Medina It has hosted many movie sets – nothing more exciting than the Grand Canyon. The difference is that there are no tourists and green oases emerge from the bottom of the valley.

After 10 hours and 500 kilometers of driving on empty highways and in good conditions, the first day of invasion ends with arrival at Ouednojoum Eco Lodge; a structure built with the same mixture of clay, water, sand and straw as many rural houses in Morocco. Now we are on another planet compared to the lights of the West and the luxury of Marrakesh and in the many small haggard villages found in most of the region there is dust, poverty and unemployment.

The situation appears to be improving slightly in rural communities near the famous Dades Gorges; the ritual stage of the second day and the road known as the road of a thousand kasbahs where our CX-60 will be punctured twice while climbing the road on the R704 which is 3,000 meters above sea level, it is also the highest road of the sea. The whole atlas.

The car does not have an extra wheel as usual (in its place there is a sub-woofer) but only a foam package with a compressor which, considering the size of both tears, would not be enough to correct the error and reach the final. return 500 km later. However, since this was Epic Drive, in the trunk of each car there was a spare wheel and rim and thanks to the quick intervention of the organization and the generosity of his colleagues who gave their spare tire, the situation was quickly resolved.

It should be said that the Cx-5 and Cx-60 present on the Mazda Epic Drive were fitted with normal tires and punctures (perhaps not twice) were more than expected events because the second half of the R704 is a mass of strong rocks. hidden by dust. Managing to complete a difficult part of the ascent after crossing the large valleys carved by the flow of the rivers Draa, Ziz and Dades, was, despite the unexpected circumstances, a great opportunity because in a short time – and encouraged the development of new tourists. coastal areas in the south of the country – R704 will be completely paved. In terms of the car’s endurance, it is worth mentioning how when climbing to the top of the R704, the Japanese SUV with Intelligent I-Activ All Wheel Drive and off-road driving mode faced every single stretch without jolts. .

Equally memorable is the next stretch of bends to Ben-Mellal where, with the sports mapping on and with impressive changes of direction without a living soul around, the Cx-60 showed poise, poise and agility. The 6-cylinder engine with a turbocharger is an engineering masterpiece and despite the height from the ground, the Hiroshima sports car transmits an attractive and well-balanced character on mixed terrain. Even if the steering is not the fastest, the excellent adjustment of the configuration and the possibility of fully pressing the volume in any situation without losing grip increase safety and power.

The possibility of understeer starts is immediately eliminated by the all-wheel drive and another important quality of the Cx-60 with the 3.3L e-Skyactive D engine is to ensure excellent performance without any sporty driving style having a significant impact on usability. .

During our two-day trip, always going at a brisk pace and without gassing, we completed a thrilling lap around the Atlas with an average of 6.8l/100km. On another note, the Mazda Epic Drive experience summed up in less than 72 hours the emotions that a good trip to Morocco can evoke and in doing so, also highlighted the SUV’s capabilities with some confidence.