The All-New Mazda3 Is Here
The new Mazda3 is now on sale and once again must do battle with such luminaries as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and the Volkswagen Golf.
The previous generation model punched above its weight, yet huge UK sales never followed. A shame in my humble opinion. Mazda has high hopes for its new offering and keen to get behind the wheel, I was soon Edinburgh-bound to get behind the wheel.
The new Mazda3 is one of the more distinctive class offerings, with an almost coupe-like shape. This does compromise rear visibility a tad. What price good looks? Immaterial perhaps, it’s often what’s inside that makes a lasting impression…
To that end, must effort has been made to ensure the cabin has a premium feel and top quality materials abound.
The new dashboard better incorporates the central display screen and Mazda has sensibly resisted the temptation to allow it control almost all the car’s functions.
Expect to find therefore proper heater controls within easy reach. Old school perhaps, but far more intuitive to use than tapping away at a screen to alter the cabin temperature.
Equipment levels are high even on the entry-level SE-L model. How does air conditioning, satellite navigation with turn by turn information via a head up display, automatic headlights and radar cruise control sound?
Spend a little more as I suspect most will and the SE-L Lux adds climate control, reversing camera, heated seats and keyless entry. Just £1,100 will be required over the base model’s £20,595 list price.
A variety of ‘Sport’ models then follow in the range and without going into too much detail can offer vinyl leather seats, heated steering wheel, privacy glass and LED lighting in addition to some subtle styling changes.
Mazda expects most buyers to eschew diesel for petrol power, which of course follows the current market trend.
At present a 122PS motor is offered and whilst it is a refined and willing performer, it does require a heavy right foot to make brisk progress. The 0-62mph sprint time is 10.4 seconds and top speed a heady 122mph.
The engine is now equipped with some hybrid technical wizardry. A lithium-ion battery is fitted, and the system works by recycling energy recovered during deceleration and uses it to power an electric motor to assist the engine. It’s great for the environment and enhances drivability too.
Up to 45.6mpg should be possible on the combined cycle say Mazda and on some of the gentler sections of our extensive launch route, we managed to better this figure. I would guess that most will comfortably manage 40+ mpg without too much difficulty. CO2 emissions are commendably low too at 117 to 119g/km.
Adding smooth progress is a light clutch and slick six-speed manual gearbox.
An additional £1,300 will get Mazda’s excellent automatic gearbox. Although not available to try, the figures suggest very little penalty at the pumps or in terms of acceleration.
The 116PS diesel engine offers similar performance to its petrol sibling and should return an extra 10mpg or so. High mileage drivers will find much to like, as refinement is excellent.
Me behind the wheel!
Waiting in the wings however is an all new powerplant. The Skyactiv-X engine should be with us in the autumn and boasts a lot of high-tech features which I don’t fully understand…
It runs an ultra-lean air/fuel mix and high compression ratio to lower fuel consumption. Expect the driving characteristics of a petrol engine with economy figures usually the preserve of diesel power. Watch this space!
Our test route took us through the lowlands of Scotland and on to Northumberland. Breath-taking scenery and fine driving roads, the chance to really give the new Mazda3 a proper workout.
Immediately apparent is the car’s excellent ride quality, though this does not come at the expense of stodgy handling. My spirited driving companion and I were able to make swift progress through the more challenging sections and we had some fun too…
It was a long afternoon behind the wheel, but the hushed cabin and excellent climate control ensured we did not get hot under the collar. In fact, the Mazda3 is probably the quietest car in its class and a quick read of the press pack confirms the effort Mazda has made to reduce noise, vibration and harshness – good job!
So what else can I tell you about the new Mazda3? We can expect to see all-wheel drive versions, great for the more rural motorist and we saw pictures of the four-door saloon, a mighty fine-looking car.
In the meantime, the hatchback version is more than worthy of your attention, my pick a Soul Red SE-L Lux.
All new Mazda3
Priced from £20,595 to £27,735
Metallic paints £550 to £790
122PS 2.0-litre M Hybrid petrol engine
0-62mph in 10.4 seconds (10.8 with automatic)
Top speed 122mph
Emissions – 117/119gkm CO2 (126/128 auto)
150,000 Mazda3 cars sold in the UK since launch in 2004
Saloon and AWD version to come