The New Mazda 3 – What a Beautiful Car
The Mazda 3 is one of the manufacturers best-selling cars. The birth of the Mazda 3 was way back in 2003. Since then the popularity has risen, and this small family hatchback has won over many hearts in the process. After three generations and very little change to the design, this all-new Mazda 3 is sure to cause a stir in the family hatchback sector.
The new design is just drop-dead gorgeous from every angle, with smooth contoured surfaces and a roofline which slopes and slides into the rear screen. It is a more handsome car than the rival Skoda Octavia, Ford Focus or VW Golf who have more angular body panels. Mazda tries to do little things differently to the norm, to give customers something different.
The All-new Mazda 3 comes with only two engines at release, 2-litre petrol and a 1.8-litre diesel. Mazda's competitors, i.e., VW Golf and Ford Focus, are using smaller, 1-litre turbocharged engines to help with new emissions regulations and economy. The '3' opts for old-school, naturally aspirated, non-turbo engines. Don't let this fool you though, Mazda has used a lot of up to date technology in their quest to achieve better performance and fuel economy.
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Old-school engines with modern technology
The 2-litre petrol engine is called Skyactiv-G. It works in conjunction with a 24V mild-hybrid system that uses an integrated starter motor for improved stop/start activation. Cylinder deactivation technology is also used to help improve fuel economy. Unfortunately, in their quest for improved economy and emissions, the new Skyactiv-G engine only develops 120hp. This is nearly the same as the 1-litre turbocharged engines found in the Skoda Octavia or Ford Focus. The Ford and Skoda give a more instant reply when you want to accelerate, while the Mazda 3 is a little sluggish and needs plenty of revs to get the best from it. That said, the 2-litre engine is smoother to drive around town, as it is quieter than the smaller engine cars.
The 1.8-litre diesel engine called Skyactiv-D develops just 114hp. Like the petrol engine, the diesel needs to be revved quite hard to get the best performance out of it. If you do a lot of motorway driving the diesel would be the car to choose, if not, go for petrol. Both options come with a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The diesel engine is a fraction quicker 0-62 than the petrol, 10.3 seconds compared with 10.4 seconds.
Both engines achieve good economy figures, petrol around 45mpg and the diesel around 56mpg. A word of caution though, if you opt for automatic transmission, the fuel economy drops significantly, and emissions rise slightly so maybe worth looking in greater detail.
Ride Comfort, Handling and Suspension
The Mazda 3 comes with a staggeringly good chassis. The suspension is set up to offer excellent poise and stability. It also comes with Mazda's advanced G-Vectoring technology, and intelligent speed assist. This helps the car remain planted when going around tricky corners at high speed. Steering is precise and weighted just right.
The ride is firm but not uncomfortable. Opting for the smaller 16-inch wheels does help to ease your journey when going over potholes or small bumps around town.
The driving position is spot-on, and so is the placement of the pedals. The seats have a wide range of adjustments, as does the steering wheel. There shouldn't be many problems for drivers of any shape or size, to feel comfortable and to find their ideal driving position.
The Mazda is fun to drive and makes you feel connected to both car and road when driving. Mazda has always produced great handling cars, and this is no exception. It is equally, if not better than, its closest rivals, apart from the Ford Focus whose handling is by far the best of all family hatchbacks.
Interior and Technology
The Mazda 3 interior is top-notch and can compete with any other in its class range. It is well made, reliable and uses high-grade materials. There is a lovely blend of chrome trim, soft-touch plastic and sleek, eye-catching finishes throughout the cabin.
Mazda has again gone against the grain and opted not to have a touchscreen. Instead, Mazda's latest MZD-Connect infotainment system comes with an 8.8-inch screen. It uses a rotary controller which is located in just the right position. The is a vast array of features included in all models such as sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB Radio smartphone connectivity using Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and an eight-speaker audio system.
As far as options go, these are restricted. Mazda instead has tailored its process to progress you into the next trim level upwards. With a choice of six different trim levels ranging from; SE-L to GT Sport Tech. Mazda offers excellent value for money across the range, given the amount of high-quality equipment and features available, even on the base model.
Space and Practicality
Space in the Mazda 3 is a bit of a mixed bag. In the front, there is ample leg, shoulder and headroom for most tall adults. This is helped, by the low positioning of the seats. In the rear, however, it is not so good. There is minimal legroom even without the front seats moved back at all. Headroom is low due to the naturally sloping roof, and all this makes it feel slightly claustrophobic.
The boot offers a small 358 litres and 1026 litres, with the rear seats folded down. Compared to others in its class, this is disappointing as others provide much more. The boot also features a high loading lip, making it a challenge to load.
Safety is paramount
The Mazda 3 is fitted with an array of safety features as standard, including blindspot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, lane departure assist, autonomous emergency braking and traffic sign recognition.
After release, the '3' was put through the Euro NCAP crash tests and achieved the top 5-star rating. The Mazda scored a near-perfect 98% adult protection rating, which is very impressive.
The looks of the new Mazda 3 are stunning and will impress wherever it goes. It is revolutionary in design and will lead the way for others to follow. The engine power leaves a lot to be desired though, and the excellent chassis and suspension are capable of handling so much more. There will be a more powerful, all-new SkyActiv-X engine coming out at the back end of 2019 offering 178hp, by adding a supercharger to the current 2-litre engine. Offering better performance and increased fuel efficiency over the less powerful petrol engine.
If you want a practical family car, then there are stronger options within the range. If you want great value for money, top of the range build quality and good handling; then the Mazda 3 is a serious contender. Once the SkyActiv-X version is released, it could prove very popular.