Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Mazda 3: A driver's car that's more agile and responsive than before

The new Mazda 3
The new Mazda 3

Some 40 independent design experts have accorded a coveted Red Dot design award to the all-new Mazda3, 100ps version, citing its no-compromise mix of an exhilarating driving experience combined with low emissions and outstandingly low fuel consumption.

107 g/km of carbon dioxide emissions and combined cycle fuel consumptiom of 68.9 mpg auger well for a pert little hatchback that can more than keep pace with a plethora of well-sorted rivals.

Altogether better looking than the previous car to bear the Mazda3 badge, the new model, which is also available as a fastback with no price differentials, offers a full range of Mazda’s innovative Skyactiv technology and Kodo Soul of Motion design language.

The gaping snout reminds me somewhat of the original Opel Manta that I ran nearly three decades ago while the tail-end treatment is reminiscent of a Chrysler Crossfire coupé. Not that there’s anything else that’s retro about the curves, sweeps and crease lines of the new Mazda.

While overall weight has been substantially reduced, the  use of ultra-high tensile reinforcements has improved the rigidity of the new car’s body by 30 per cent over its predecessor. This has greatly improved the driving dynamics, making the vehicle more agile and responsive.

There’s a range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, starting with an entry level 1.5-litre and including a 162bhp two-litre petrol that will high tail it to 62-mph in a brisk 8.2-seconds.

This version spotlights Mazda’s i-ELOOP device, which uses a capacitor to harvest kinetic energy which is used to power the electrical systems for up to a minute, in the process improving battery life and reducing around town fuel consumption by as much as 10 per cent. Unlike hybrids, this uses no precious metals.

Even quicker out of the blocks though is the 148bhp 2.2-litre twin turbo diesel, which will do the job in eight seconds dead.

This is a real driver’s car, with a slick, short throw gear stick, crisp steering and spot-on handling.

I really like the dash, with its clear instruments, close spaced controls and pop-up sat/nav screen while the rather upright driving position suits me. Six equipment grades are available.

This is the first Mazda to offer internet connectivity through the owner’s smartphone, giving access to internet radio, Facebook and Twitter.

The 3 accounts, appropriately, for one in three of all Mazda cars sold globally. Despite some stiff opposition, the Japanese manufacturer is confident the new rendition will do even better.

Competitive on the road prices range from £16,995 to £22,545.

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