PEPPY AND ECONOMICAL
NEW MAZDA3 IS LEADER OF THE PACK
DON’T you just hate waiting for red to change to green at some of Perth’s traffic lights? They must have the longest cycle in the world.
They were bad before, but motorists complained, so the Departmentt of Bright Ideas has now made the cycle twice as long.
Which brings me to the new Mazda3 XD Astina.
Instead of getting itself into a lather, it simply switches itself off.
Then, when the lights go green in about a week, it instantly fires up again and off you go.
Apart from that, the hatch has a big, strong turbo-diesel under its bonnet, a snappy six-speed gearbox and a sports-tuned chassis that makes it a very pleasant thing to be in – and the most potent and economical of the Mazda3 range.
Priced from $40,230 for the manual, two grand extra for an auto, it’s a speccy number with leather and a multimedia system with satnav, a good reversing camera, sunroof, adaptive cruise control, ‘see around corners’ bi-xenon headlights, heads-up display, auto-on lights and wipers, self-dipping mirror, power driver’s seat and ninespeaker Bose audio.
Outside are sporty 18-inch alloys with lopro Super Maxx rubber, LED foglights and a grille a bit different from its siblings. It’s got a red surround. Now where did we see that before? Oh yes, Golf GTI.
The Astina’s 129kW/420Nm 2.2litre turbo diesel can take the car to 100km/h in 7.5seconds, which puts it on the fringe of hot hatch territory, but it also has excellent fuel economy, with an official combined figure of 5.0litres/100km.
What impressed me most was the car’s massive torque.
Cruise along at 90 or 100km/h in sixth, prod the accelerator and you get a gentle shove in the back as it instantly surges ahead without a downshift.
The economy is helped somewhat by a system called i-Eloop, which recovers energy and stores it in a capacitor, plus of course the aforementioned traffic lightthwarting i-Stop thingy.
New to Mazda’s Australian lineup is the Active Engine Sound system. Like similar systems from other manufacturers, this aims to add a sporty flavour to the engine noise by playing a synthesised note through the audio speakers.
Safety-wise the XD Astina has a five-star rating and comes with squillions of airbags and electronic doofies, among them blind-spot monitoring, forward collision, lane departure and rear cross-traffic alerts, and automatic emergency braking.
It’s a delight to drive, comfortable, spacious, responsive, great handling and guess what? It doesn’t even sound like a diesel. Pour quoi? Because Active Engine Sound emits the purr of a petrol engine.
There you have it: A goodlooking, classy, peppy, economical car with more fun and economy that you’d ever imagine.
Verdict: A bit pricey, but the good things always are.
Mazda's 3 XD Astina is the leader of the pack.