Ve­hi­cle Re­view: Mazda3 Astina Auto

2.0 Au­to­matic

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL - By Tessa Buhrmann.

As a mo­torist, there’s noth­ing more com­fort­ing than know­ing that you’re safely en­sconced in a car that takes pas­sen­ger safety se­ri­ously. Es­pe­cially when that car is as good look­ing as the new-look Mazda3 2.0 Astina Plus Auto! And we had the priv­i­lege of be­ing en­sconced in this beauty on a re­cent road-trip down the Kwa-Zulu-Natal South Coast.

In keep­ing with Mazda’s KODO de­sign lan­guage, the Mazda3 Astina looks and feels beau­ti­ful. It is a hatch­back with style – its coupe-like stance, sleek sporty lines and classy in­te­rior with sport-style seats, heads-up dis­play, cruise-con­trol and pad­dle-shift – all com­bine to en­sure a great road-trip. And it has a re­v­erse cam­era.

With my hubby hap­pily tak­ing charge of the wheel I soon had our mo­bile con­nec­tiv­ity sorted and our des­ti­na­tion en­tered us­ing the MZD con­nec­tiv­ity sys­tem with its Blue­tooth, nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem and 7” touch­screen. Mazda’s SKYACTIV Tech­nol­ogy en­sured that the Astina de­liv­ered an ex­cit­ing and re­spon­sive drive that was ag­ile and han­dled well (and yes, I man­aged to wres­tle my hubby out of the driver’s seat a cou­ple of times). The 2.0L en­gine with its 6-speed au­to­matic gear­box cer­tainly de­liv­ered on both per­for­mance and econ­omy, with our road trip av­er­ag­ing 7.0L/100km.

But for me, it was the su­per-cool ‘in­tel­li­gent’ safety fea­tures that stood out. I loved that the car has ‘Smart City Brake Sup­port’ (a sys­tem to de­tect the risk of col­li­sions at low speeds and great for traf­fic sit­u­a­tions) and Blind Spot Mon­i­tor­ing – you can’t but help no­tice the warn­ing that flashes on the head-up dis­play and wing mir­ror.

And then there’s the Adap­tive LED Head­lights s that recog­nise lead­ing and on­com­ing cars and turn off se­lect­eded LEDs to avoid blind­ing other driv­ers… and when driv­ing at low speeds the widerange low beam ex­pands to in­crease driver vis­i­bil­ity! The Lane De­par­ture Warn­ing and Lane Keep As­sist alert the driver when there is an ‘un­in­ten­tional lane de­par­ture’ – the cool thing is that when ac­com­pa­nied by ac­cel­er­a­tion or turn sig­nal oper­a­tion it recog­nises the move as in­ten­tional.

One re­ally use­ful safety fea­ture when on a long road-trip is the Driver At­ten­tion Alert which is de­signed to re­duce ac­ci­dents caused by ‘inat­ten­tive­ness due to driver fa­tigue’. The sys­tem, which is ac­ti­vated at speeds above 65 km/h, be­gins to “learn” the driver’s habits, watch­ing in­puts and the ve­hi­cle’s move­ments in the early stages of a jour­ney. Later, if the sys­tem de­tects changes in ve­hi­cle be­hav­iour sug­gest­ing that the driver may be los­ing con­cen­tra­tion, it will ad­vise a rest stop by sound­ing a chime and dis­play­ing a warn­ing in the in­for­ma­tion sys­tem. Like I said, one se­ri­ously in­tel­li­gent car!

We cer­tainly found the Mazda3 Astina a fun car to drive and in ad­di­tion to be­ing re­ally good to look at, it is pretty ro­bust too – sur­viv­ing one of the South Coast’s in­fa­mous pot­holes re­ally well, with not even a flat tyre.

About the au­thor: Tourism Tat­tler cor­re­spon­dent Tessa Buhrmann is the ed­i­tor of Re­spon­si­ble Trav­eller mag­a­zine.­spon­si­ble­trav­

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