MAZDA3 MAXX

Herald Sun - Motoring - - HEAD TO HEAD -

VALUE

Fog lights, leather wrapped steer­ing wheel and gear knob, pad­dleshifters and dig­i­tal ra­dio are stan­dard. The air­con can’t be set to a tem­per­a­ture, though. It lacks front sen­sors and elec­tric park brake. Built-in sat­nav is more re­li­able in re­mote ar­eas than Google Maps. Stan­dard safety pack­age is much bet­ter. Ser­vic­ing is $1367 for three years, in­clud­ing fil­ters/flu­ids. War­ranty is three years/un­lim­ited km.

DE­SIGN-TECH

Looks old-fash­ioned de­spite a re­cent up­date. Lacks a dig­i­tal speedo and the in­stru­ment read­outs pall against the Honda. There’s a man­ual hand­brake and stor­age space is tight. Ma­te­ri­als and fin­ishes are high qual­ity. Dial-op­er­ated menu for the cen­tre screen is eas­ier to use and less dis­tract­ing on the move than the Honda. At­ten­tion to de­tail falls away in the rear, where hard plas­tics dom­i­nate.

EN­GINE

The en­gine has enough oomph to match most com­peti­tors and uses less fuel thanks to its stop-start fuel-saving fea­ture. The six-speed auto, with pad­dle-shifters for chang­ing gears man­u­ally, is less ob­tru­sive in the cabin than the Honda’s CVT and al­lows you to hold on to lower gears for more drive out of cor­ners.

SAFETY

Com­pre­hen­sive safety pack­age in­cludes au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing and blind spot mon­i­tor­ing. It will even slam on the brakes if it spots some­thing or some­one in your path when you’re re­vers­ing. The driver as­sis­tance is backed up by six airbags and a five-star crash re­sult where it scored 36.4/37.

DRIV­ING

A midlife up­date brings “G-vec­tor­ing con­trol” — new tech­nol­ogy aimed at mak­ing cor­ner­ing more pre­cise by ad­just­ing en­gine torque as the car ap­proaches a bend. It’s hard to pick the dif­fer­ence but Mazda says it re­quires less steer­ing cor­rec­tion by the driver. The Mazda3 was al­ways great to drive and still is. Com­fier ride and noise sup­pres­sion im­prove­ments are more no­tice­able — own­ers com­plain about road noise but this ex­am­ple was no nois­ier than the Honda.

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