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Mazda 3 Sedan Motoring Review

MAZDA’S a brand that doesn’t need any introduction. It’s been around for generations and many of us have spent some part of our life in the seat of a Mazda.

What many of us may haven’t known, this Japanese giant was owned by Ford and only very recently became a standalone brand. The result is a plethora of new products for South Africa including the World Car of the Year, the Mazda3.

Originally introduced in 2003, the Mazda3 strives to embody Mazda’s philosophy of producing driver focused cars that are practical and safe. The first Mazda3 was a welcomed model for the brand with solid performance; it ticked all the right boxes.

Great looks

I was always a fan of the previous generation Mazda3. There was just something about its stance and styling that resonated with me. Maybe it was the sharp lines and squarish rear profiling.  That said, the new derivative is a revelation. Combining innovative sporty design in a compact theme it looks good from all angles. At the front, you’re greeted by the badged nestled in the front grille, which is flanked by the headlamps.

Mazda’s design language dubbed, KODO is clearly evident. Standard 16-inch full-cover steel wheels and higher trim-level 16-inch and 18-inch aluminium alloy wheels express dynamic motion from hub to rim. Mazda3’s cab rearward posture and raked profile further emphasize its agility and speed.

The inside scoop

The cabin is where a driver spends the majority of time and Mazda has reworked the cockpit with a very driver-focus feel in place. Reworking the meter cluster and centre console, everything is clearly defined and within easy reach for both driver and passenger.

An Active Driving Display has also been introduced in the top spec Astina. It’s a nice novelty, but the clear pop-up panel mount looks outdated on such a superb car. What is also introduced for the first time is the next-generation Human-Machine Interface (HMI) system. Based on the Heads-up Cockpit concept, the new HMI system aims to help drivers maintain proper posture, concentrate on the road and drive more safely, even while handling larger amounts of information. The information presented is divided into groups, and an innovative screen layout is employed to let the driver safely balance the primary job of driving with absorbing other peripheral information.

Driver’s car

While everyone is embracing the trend of downsizing, Mazda has stuck to the larger powertrains utilizing the art of Zoom-Zoom, which delivers performance with fuel efficiency in mind. The new Mazda3 will be offered with two engine choices: The high powered SKYACTIV-G 2.0-litre petrol engine and the currently-offered MZR 1.6-litre petrol engine in order to meet local market demands.

The more powerful two-litre is responsive and sporty delivering on the car’s athletic physique with 121kW and 210Nm it knows how to handle itself and is available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The slightly smaller option, the 1.6-litre is paired to a five-speed or four-speed automatic transmission. A standout feature was certainly the intuitive i-stop system which gives the same fast and smooth restarts within 0.35 seconds while using just half the amount of fuel required.

Handling prowess

The car’s handling characteristics are enhanced throughthe SKYACTIV-body and SKYACTIV-chassis, which delivers a comfortable and adaptive ride capable of handling itself well, particularly on Joburg’s roads. The perfect combination of sporty engines and chassis to match, it’s clear why this new breed of Mazda still echoes the brand’s renowned driving pleasure ethos.

Service and warranty

The all-new Mazda3 is designed and built to the highest standards of performance and reliability. These standards are backed up by a three-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty. To provide complete peace of mind, a three-year roadside assistance, a three-year service plan and a five-year corrosion warranty are also included.

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