There is now more power and greater efficiency for the Mazda 3 thanks to outstanding engineering achievements within the brand’s latest version of its e-Skyactiv X engine.
In recent years Mazda UK have been generous in giving me the opportunity to drive many of their latest models. With diesel becoming a thing of the past, one thing that struck me with Mazda was that their petrol engines were incredibly frugal.
This is something the Japanese maker has worked hard on to improve, somehow, which not only helps the environment due to reduced emissions and greater economy, but also aids drivability and retains a driving experience that an electric vehicle cannot provide thanks to increased power and greater response.
The main development goal of e-Skyactiv X was to provide a highly efficient petrol engine that supports everyday driving with a combination of excellent response, engaging, free-revving performance, smoothness and superior real world fuel and emissions efficiency.
Like that of a diesel engine, the throttle valve of e-Skyactiv X is almost always open. In other words, there is lots of air in the cylinders. As a result, the engine generates torque instantly in response to the drivers demand.
The Mazda 3 is available as a 4-door saloon priced from £26,265. Or, as tested and talked about within this article, a 5-door hatchback starting from £23,265.
A total of five trim levels are available, starting with and ‘SE-L’ which includes 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, AM/FM/DAB radio with 8 speakers, Mazda radar cruise control, power-folding heated door mirrors, colour head-up display, front smart brake support and an 8.8-inch integrated Mazda navigation system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with 5-years free map updates.
An ‘SE-L LUX’ is priced from £24,365 and adds heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera and smart keyless entry.
Priced from £25,465 is a ‘SPORT LUX’ trim which adds 18-inch alloy wheels, black gloss front grille and B-Pillars, adaptive LED headlights, frameless auto dimming interior rear view mirror, rear privacy glass and LED tail lights.
An abundance of extra quality starts from £27,365 with a ‘GT SPORT’ which features a full black leather interior, 12 speaker Bose surround sound system, with Bose CenterPoint, Basematch and AudioPilot technology, automatic tilt-down when reversing door mirrors and a heated leather steering wheel.
The model tested and pictured, a ‘GT SPORT TECH’ is priced from £30,465 and adds cruising and traffic support, driver monitoring, front and rear cross traffic alert with rear smart brake support and 360 view monitor thanks to 4 cameras around the vehicle.
All models are front wheel drive and depending on your trim level, you have the option of two petrol engines. Both 2.0-litres, each feature a 24-volt battery to support the engine which helps improve your fuel economy and reduce emissions.
The 122ps engine will see you from 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds with a combined economy of 51.4mpg. The latest engine as tested, though, produces 186ps, and with its 6-speed manual gearbox will do 0-62mph in an impressive 8.1 seconds with a combined return of 53.3mpg. Some of the middle trim levels do offer the option of a 6-speed automatic ‘box, the price increases by around £1,500 for this.
The Japanese manufacturer’s signature styling makes the Mazda 3 unmistakably theirs. It’s sleek, and I really like the ‘machine grey metallic’ paint finish against the black wheels. I can’t help but feel that the option of red leather should have been ticked on this vehicle, rather than its black leather upholstery.
Unquestionably better looking than rivals such as the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra or Volkswagen Golf, the Mazda 3 isn’t just as practical as a family car as it maybe should be. The cabin is dark and not overly spacious, rear seating best suited to children rather than adults and the boot isn’t much bigger than that in a city car.
Simplistic and driver focused is a way to describe the interior, the infotainment screen perched high on the dash, keeping your eyes closer to the road, and operated via a control wheel and buttons close to the gear stick.
When on the road the Mazda 3 is also focused on the driver. I will go as far as saying that equipped with the higher powered engine; the Mazda 3 can become a fun place when meandering down a country road. A great handling and superbly balanced package must be noted.
Mazda offer a 3-year/60,000 my warranty with servicing annually or at 12,500 miles (whichever comes first).
Words and Photos: GRAHAM BAALHAM-CURRY
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