Mazda3, a good car, now even better

In Car Reviews, Mazda by Tom Scanlan

Mazda has given its pleasant compact family car, in both hatchback and fastback form, a mildly re-worked ‘face’, new tech, a few other minor changes and a couple of new colours and wheel designs.

Tom Scanlan reviews the New Mazda3.
In the new model, Mazda has built upon their SKYactiv methodology of building lighter cars, with larger engines, but reducing emissions and increasing mpg. Powertrains available are the 1.5 diesel engine with 105PS and 2.2 diesel with150PS, alongside two petrol engines developing 120PS and 165PS. The diesels have been refined to reduce that diesel clatter on start-up and at low speed. This certainly makes the car feel smoother and quieter than before and, from the refinement point-of-view, better than one or two of the offering from the premium car manufacturers. Most of this has been achieved by building in more noise suppression and vibration damping.

Good news, 42% of cars now sold in this segment have emissions under 100g/CO2
The interior has had rather more work done and Mazda says it is now of a higher quality in terms of materials, and better switchgear; for example, the old traditional handbrake has been replaced by an electric switch.

Prices start at £17,595 with the top Nav Sport model at £24,195.

I tried two versions on some glorious driving roads out of Aberdeen into the Cairngorms. Both the 1.5 lower-power diesel and the lower-powered petrol cars were a real pleasure to drive up and down the hills and along mainly traffic-free twisty country roads.

The test routes, totalling about 250 miles, we’re all endowed with good surfaces, so the suspensions were not pushed too hard; however, the ride was always very comfortable and the cars handled high-speed dips and climbs with aplomb. Work has been done on both the front and rear suspension systems.

The steering remains sharp and nicely-weighted. The manual six-speed gearbox felt really strong and the gear change and clutch combination was a delight to use. On the few occasions that a lorry or tractor was encountered coming in the opposite direction on narrow roads, the brakes proved perfectly efficient and smooth. The electric handbrake also now make the dashboard less cluttered with two large cupholders.

Mazda engineers have installed a new dynamics system that, probably not felt by the average driver (like me), gets the car to maximise its handling capabilities by instantly providing just the right amount of torque to whichever wheel is appropriate. They call it G-Vectoring control, it rebalances the car aiding precision and cornering, it just works.

Three trim versions are available: SE Nav, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav. The top versions, in particular, have more technology than before. This includes an enhanced colour head-up display and adaptive LED headlights, this as part of the optional £800 Safety Pack and in conjunction with £1000 optional leather trim (that I found particularly comfortable).

Mazda3 was already a good car and now it is even better. It’s a pity that there is no spare wheel, not even a space-saver.

Emissions in the 105 PS diesel are just 99g/km, so you get that feel-good factor of not having to pay any annual road tax or city congestion charge. The most powerful engine is pretty clean, too, at 135g/km.

The best official combined fuel consumption figure is from the 105PS engine at 74.3 mpg…I had exactly 50 mpg recorded on my drive in this version, with 46.3 mpg (official 55.4 mpg) from the 2-litre 120PS petrol unit. The twisty Scottish B-roads wont have helped the numbers, on a stretch, driving around 65mph on cruise control another journalist from ‘Drive’ achieved 64.5 mpg with the 105PS model.

Automatics are only available on some models, in combination with either this engine or 150PS diesel.

The New Mazda3 is on sale now and Mazda reckon it will now provide a better challenge to competitors in its sector.

Car reviewed: Mazda3 Hatchback 1.5 105ps Sport Nav SKYACTIV-D – range prices from £17,565, model tested on the road £22,145 0-62mph 11 secs Top speed 115mph Combined Fuel Economy 74.3mpg CO2 emissions 99g/km Engine 1499cc diesel Max Power 105PS@4000rpm Torque 270Nm@1600-2500rpm Transmission six-speed manual

  • Economy

  • Refinement

  • Value for money

  • No spare wheel

About the author

Tom Scanlan

'Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars. He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0. In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.'

No items found, please search again.