Mazda’s diesel dimension
The No.1 car gets a fast and frugal new version
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.