Saloon cars haven’t been a popular choice in Northern Ireland for the last couple of decades, but can this latest model from Mazda change that?
Travel somewhere in the region of 150 miles southbound and you will soon see an abundance of saloon cars on the road, albeit with a white number plate front and rear.
Never managing to be overly popular in Northern Ireland, this latest Mazda 3 could go some way to changing that, as it looks absolutely fantastic.
Winning the 2020 World Car Design of the Year award, it’s priced around £1,500 more than its hatchback sibling, meaning the Mazda 3 saloon starts from £23,320 rising to £28,300 for the highest of five trims available.
The entry level ‘SE-L’ includes 16-inch alloy wheels, black cloth upholstery, LED headlights with high beam control, air conditioning, head-up display, Mazda radar cruise control, and rear parking sensors.
An ‘SE-L LUX’ is priced from £24,420 and adds heated front seats, auto dimming driver’s door and rear-view mirrors, dual-zone climate control, front parking sensors, and reversing camera.
A ‘SPORT LUX’ is available from £25,600 and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, frameless auto dimming rear-view mirror, rear signature LED lights, and smart keyless entry.
A ‘GT SPORT’ starts from £27,400 and includes black leather upholstery, 12-speaker Bose surround sound system with Bose CenterPoint, BassMatch and AudioPilot technology and instrument panel with 7-inch colour driver display, door mirror tilt down function with reversing, and driver attention alert.
Finally, priced from £28,300 is a ‘GT SPORT TECH’ which adds cruising and traffic support, driver monitoring, front cross traffic alert, rear cross traffic braking, and rear smart brake support.
Unusually, just one engine and gearbox is available with the Mazda 3 saloon. The single choice being the 2.0-litre Skyactiv-X mild hybrid petrol engine which produces 180ps and powers the front wheels only, via a 6-speed manual gearbox.
Seeing 0-62mph in a healthy 8.2 seconds you can expect a return of around 50mpg. Being naturally aspirated means that you need to rev the car relatively well up the counter, to see noticeable progress, and even with such steady progress, it always feels a little lacklustre when compared to smaller capacity turbocharged engines.
When it comes to driving the Mazda 3, it stands out considerably, with Mazda’s Skyactiv technology combining years of research and development into the perfect blend of weight saving, chassis rigidity and engine efficiency, which is very much apparent when driving this model.
Being very much driver orientated, comfort is somewhat sacrificed compared to rivals, especially on higher trim models fitted with the 18-inch alloy wheels, through which you can almost conduct a road survey on every journey.
As someone who enjoys a ‘good aul drive’ I appreciate greatly the engagement this family car offers to the driver. The limited range of engines and in particular, the lack of forced induction, is something that may sway potential buyers.
I know that I prefer the more usable torque of a lower revving turbocharged petrol engine, but perhaps if I spent longer than a week with the Skyactiv-X Mazda, I could be converted to its ways.
Inside this model tested is a sea of black cloth, the front seats offering plenty of support with a nice driving position, whilst the rear is a little more spacious than its slightly cramped hatchback sibling.
To answer my previous question of whether or not the Mazda 3 saloon can be every bit as popular as the hatchback version. I am not so sure. For me personally the saloon looks much better, though the increased practicality of the hatchback means that the latter is likely to remain more popular.
The model tested and pictured, with a few options, costs £27,930 and I see on the Mazda UK website there is ‘0% APR with nothing to pay for 3 months’ terms will apply, but it’s maybe worth checking out.
Mazda offer a 3-year/60,000 mile warranty (whichever comes first) and this model should be serviced every 12,500 miles or annually.
Fact File for model tested
Make : Mazda
Model : 3 Saloon
Trim : Sport Lux
Engine : 2.0-litre petrol mild hybrid
Gearbox : 6-speed manual
Cost : £27,930
Words & Photos: GRAHAM BAALHAM-CURRY
images must not be used in any way without prior written consent of the photographer