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New Mazda3 is a step-change

Created on 18/05/2019 @ 08:35

Test Drive by Graham Breeze

The arrival of the Mazda3 hatchback is a step change for the company in a single-minded bid to take the brand to a new place.

The new model is a substantial step-up for Mazda in the C-sector and the first car of a new generation from the Japanese company going head-to-head with VW Golf, Ford Focus, Seat Leon, Honda Civic, Audi, BMW and Volvo.

Mazda expect 70% of sales to be from the retail sector but with all petrol models coming with an added mild hybrid system you can expect fleet buyers to be casting watchful eyes in the 3 direction, attracted by impressive fuel consumption figures

Offered initially with either a 122ps 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G petrol or 116ps Skyactiv-D diesel engine, the UK model line-up sees a choice of five trim levels: SE-L, SE-L Lux, Sport Lux, GT Sport and GT Sport Tech.

It’s disappointing that Mazda’s innovative Skyactiv-X Spark controlled compression ignition engine and the Saloon model will not join the range until later in 2019, though there will be a premium to pay.

So what’s so different about the new car?

Firstly there’s a level of standard equipment never seen before on a Mazda hatchback, with high-end technology such as a windscreen projecting colour head-up display with Traffic Sign Recognition, Mazda Radar Cruise Control and LED headlights across the range.

Every model in the line-up also features navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and an advanced eight speaker audio system.

From SE-L Lux onwards highlights include a reversing camera, smart keyless entry, heated front seats, while Sport Lux sees the high-class cabin enhanced with additional chrome detailing, a frameless rear view mirror and rear privacy glass.

GT Sport sees the introduction of black leather seats with power adjustment, a heated steering wheel and Bose audio, while the range-topping GT Sport Tech features a suite of additional active safety equipment, including a 360camera and Driver Attention Alert with interior camera.

With the exception of the flagship GT Sport Tech model, which is matched exclusively with the 122ps Skyactiv-G engine, all trims are offered with both diesel and petrol engines, while a choice between manual and automatic gearboxes is offered across the entire range.

Mazda Managing Director Jeremy Thompson told us the car has been  redesigned from the ground up, paying attention to everything from reducing cabin noise and engine friction with special attention paid to all the stuff that doesn’t make the headlines.

“I’m hugely excited about this sensational new hatchback,” said the MD. “It only takes one look to see just how much it moves things forward for Mazda, from the stunning evolution of our KODO design philosophy to a cabin that sets new standards for comfort, style and technology.

“Inside and out the All-New Mazda3 has been engineered to deliver the feeling of effortless driving joy”.

We tested the range on some of the most demanding roads in Scotland and were most impressed by the 2.0 122ps GT Sport which is likely to be one of the best sellers.

Prices start at £20,575 and rise to £27,735 though there will be a pemium to pay for the Skyactiv-X when it arrives in October. The 2.0 GT Sport has a standard price of £24,595 but the test model gained a metallic paint package pushing the price up to £25,145.

This car was a step up from the Sport Lux meaning the addition of tilt-down function door mirrors for reversing, leather door trim, electric driver seat controls, heated front seats,  head-up display, heated steering wheel and an impressive 12-speaker Bose surround sound system.

With a six-speed manual box the GT-Sport reached 0-62 in 10.4 seconds, has a top speed of 122mph, C02 emissions of 119g/km and a claimed fuel consumption figure of 44mpg on the combined cycle.

It’s also fair to say that this Mazda looks the part too, standing on 18” Grey Metallic alloy wheels with 215/45 R18 tyres.

Some buyers may choose to wait for the arrival of the Skyactiv-X Spark later in the year but they will have to fork out a bit more cash and for my money this model ticks enough boxes to keep garage owners happy.

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