23 Feb 2017 | 12.20 pm
Comfort level makes it feel like a much bigger car
23 Feb 2017 | 12.20 pm
Mazda has introduced G-Vectoring Control (GVC) to the Mazda3 range for more precise handling and improved comfort, writes Olive Keogh
Mazda is kicking off 2017 with a freshened version of its compact Mazda3 hatchback. The exterior changes are pretty subtle and include new lights, a new grille and a lower, more purposeful stance. The changes within the cabin are more noticeable, with an appreciable lift in the quality of the fit, finish and general ambience of the interior. Unchanged are the Mazda3’s high levels of comfort, its roominess up front and its practicality, all of which combine to make it an easy car to live with day to day.
The test car came with eye-catching Soul Red metallic paint that accentuated its graceful lines. Those thinking of putting the Mazda3 on their new car shopping list have four powertrain options (two petrol, two diesel) to choose from. The diesel engines on offer have displacements of 1.5 and 2.2 litres, while the petrol engines are 1.5 and 2.0. Six-speed manual transmission is standard with automatic available as an option. Prices for the new Mazda3 range kick off at €23,295.
Skyactiv-Vehicle Dynamics is Mazda’s umbrella name for innovative technologies that provide integrated control of the engine, transmission, chassis and body, and the system has been introduced to the Mazda3 this time around with the inclusion of so-called G-Vectoring Control (GVC).
In a nutshell, GVC varies engine torque to optimise the load on each wheel. This makes for a smoother ride and better handling under all driving conditions. Diesel-powered versions of the newcomer also get high-precision boost control to enhance accelerator responsiveness, and an electronic handbrake now replaces the manual system on all models.
There are also more obvious hi-tech upgrades, including the now full-colour Active Driving Display that provides information projected onto the windscreen above the steering wheel. There is a new centre console and infotainment system with MZD Connect to keep drivers hooked up to social media and the internet as they drive.
Active and pre-crash safety features on the new model include Advanced Smart City Brake Support. Its forward-sensing camera replaces the laser beam on the current car, and extends the speed range for detecting other vehicles and adds pedestrian detection.
The model on test came with a zippy two-litre power unit with 120bhp, which produces 119g CO2/km and attracts road tax of €200 a year. The driving position is comfortable but the height adjustment on the driver’s seat could have been a tad more generous.
The Mazda3 may have a compact footprint, but the level of comfort makes it feel like a much bigger car. The advantage of its neat size is that it is easy to park and economical to run. But it also has a fun side and if you feel like a bit of nip and tuck on twisty roads, then the Mazda3 is more than up for it, with nicely weighted steering and good cornering grip.
Engine 2.0 litre Skyactiv-G
Safety Multiple airbags, dusk sensing headlights, dynamic stability control, traction control, front and rear parking sensors
Price From €23,295 (test car €29,715)
Fuel consumption 5.1L/100km combined cycle
Verdict A step upmarket for Mazda’s already polished compact hatchback