THE HEARSE OF THE FUTURE
BRIAN BASSETT shifts down for the delightful exhaust note of the new 1.6 Mazda3 Dynamic
ASK any South African over 35 about Mazda and you will probably find that at some time in their motoring life they have owned a Mazda 323.
This remarkable little car, which was available with 1,3 and 1,6 engines appeared almost indestructible and can still be seen on our roads today.
My daughter had a 1,3 for about six years and, after she departed for London I inherited the car and used it daily over the next five years with no issues or incidents.
I then sold it locally and still see this little 323 on the roads. This old Mazda 323 thus paved the way for the new Mazda 3 hatch, which competes in one of the toughest corners of the local market, where it has already won the Best Hatchback of the year award in the Wheels Car of the year awards and did very well in
Car Magazine’s 12 best buys for 2015.
I was therefore exited when Faizal Hoosen, new vehicle sales manager at Barloworld Mazda offered me the use of a Mazda 3 for a few days.
The Mazda 3 is very much part of the new wave of Mazda cars. The build quality is excellent and the exterior impression is svelte and sexy and must rate as one of the best looking entrants into the compact segment.
The typical Mazda aggressive front grille, the crisp edges, gentle curves and sportscar-like tautness, together its long bonnet and “cab-back” design cast the car as a standout in terms of styling in the compact segment.
Embracing the carmaker’s Kodo or Soul of Motion design philosophy first seen in the CX5, the Mazda 3 takes on the brand’s blunt nose and five-point grille leading into thin, slanted, sweptback head lamps.
A sweeping shoulder line flows gracefully along the side of the body and a more slanted; fastback roofline ends in a softer, somewhat less striking rear treatment. Once again, however, the slanted and distinctive rear light modules dominate.
The interior design is focused on the driver. The leather-covered seats are well upholstered and outlined in red stitching, which always lends a sporty feel to any interior. The ergonomics are excellent and the driver’s seat is one of the most comfortable I have experienced in a compact car.
The dashboard is simple and divided into three dials, which are a mixture of analogue and digital and tell you at a glance everything you need to know while on road.
The centre of the dash is occupied by a seven-inch display screen with command function, which provides a wide variety of information. The leather-covered, multi-function steering wheel is enjoyable to handle and the brake lever is covered in soft leather. The centrally-placed gear lever is also leather covered and for those who love to drive, it will be a joy to handle.
There is a six-speaker, BOSE audio/AUX/CD system which is excellent, as well as a plug for your electronic toys and a climate control system which serves passengers well.
The rear seats will take two adults in comfort but the nature of the overall design makes three somewhat of a squeeze.
Luggage space is reasonable for a conventional family with 408 litres of luggage space with the rear seats in place and more space available with the seats folded down in 60:40 fashion.
Safety and security
The Mazda 3 may have been designed as a sports hatchback, but it will largely be used as a family car so it has a wide variety of safety measures available. The car has ABS with EBD, Dynamic Stability Control, Emergency Brake Assist and Hill Launch Assist. There are 6 driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags, seatbelts for all and child restraint anchor points.
Central locking makes your life easier and the alarm will wake the dead. In all there are some seventeen safety features on the car and you can easily entrust your family to its care.
Performance and Handling
The Mazda 3 has a 77 kW/144 Nm, four-cylinder engine, which meets the Euro stage IV emissions standard. Power is expressed on road via a delightfully-smooth five-speed manual gearbox and the car is a pleasure to drive. Straight-line stability is excellent and cornering at speed presents no problem. This is a driver’s car in every sense and long distances should be easily dealt with.
Performance is peppy with 0-100 coming up in about 11 seconds and top speed is over 180 km/h. Fuel consumption is always difficult to predict as so much depends on terrain and driving style but, with quite a bit of heavy-footed town driving thrown in my car registered about 7,9 l/100 km. Town driving is pleasurable, although the Mazda 3 is no robot racer. On the N3 the ride is comfortable and when passing large trucks the exhaust note is quite delightful.
The driving experience makes you feel as though you are in a larger car.
Prices and competitors
The entry model the 1,6 Original comes in at about R233 000 and the 1,6 Dynamic, which I drove, costs around R255 000, while the range-topping 2,0 Individual costs about R294 000.
The car comes with three-year or unlimited kilometre warranty, service plan and roadside assistance. The hatch segment offers buyers the most choice, so also have a look at the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra Toyota Corolla and Renault Megane — to mention but a few.
The Mazda 3 is more than ready to step into the big boots left by the 323.