Mazda’s diesel di­men­sion

The No.1 car gets a fast and fru­gal new ver­sion

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - News - JOSHUA DOWLING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDI­TOR

AUS­TRALIA’S top-sell­ing car is about to be given a boost with the re­turn of a diesel vari­ant.

The Mazda3 diesel will be avail­able with au­to­matic trans­mis­sion for the first time but the price is ex­pected to be north of $35,000, mak­ing it one of the dearer mod­els in the new line-up and about $5000 more than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion.

Af­ter two years at the top of the charts, the Mazda3 has re­claimed the sales lead in 2014 af­ter be­ing over­taken by the Toy­ota Corolla last year.

The diesel’s ar­rival in Septem­ber, with both man­ual and auto trans­mis­sions, will give the 3 an edge over the Corolla in en­gine op­tions.

The Mazda3 is al­ready avail­able with a choice of 2.0 or 2.5-litre petrol power. The Corolla, mean­while, is avail­able only with 1.8-litre petrol power — a hy­brid op­tion us­ing Prius tech­nol­ogy is be­lieved to be un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

Mazda’s diesel-auto al­ter­na­tive will broaden the 3’s ap­peal. In Volk­swa­gen’s Golf range, for ex­am­ple, the diesel vari­ant ac­counts for about 12 per cent of sales.

The pre­vi­ous Mazda3 diesel tal­lied 1 per cent of sales. The ad­di­tion of the au­to­matic trans­mis­sion opens it up to the ma­jor­ity of the mar­ket.

“We were ham­strung with the last model by only hav­ing a man­ual trans­mis­sion,” says Mazda Aus­tralia’s Steve Maciver. “About 75 per cent of the small­car mar­ket favours au­to­matic trans­mis­sion so there’s def­i­nitely po­ten­tial for a sales boost now that we will have the op­tion of a diesel au­to­matic.”

A su­per-ef­fi­cient Mazda3 diesel in Europe sips just 3.3L/100km us­ing the same en­gine. How­ever, the ver­sion ear­marked for Aus­tralia has been tuned for per­for­mance and av­er­ages 5.0L/100km, still a 12 per cent im­prove­ment on the pre­vi­ous diesel.

The 2.2-litre diesel (129kW) is shared with the CX-5 SUV and Mazda6 fam­ily car, which was run­ner-up in last year’s Cars­guide Car of the Year.

Mazda ini­tially will bring in a hatch­back in top level Astina spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

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