Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Bill Buys

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.

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