Ian Lamming drives the brand new Mazda3.
WHEN the last Mazda3 received an update a man on a flying horse would not have been able to tell the difference – not so this time.
The latest generation of this stalwart hatchback catches the eye, holds it in a spellbinding gaze and spins hypnotically to make you long for one.
Its looks are stunning with a low nose, slender LED headlights and bold grille. It’s only a modestly sized vehicle yet the bonnet seems to stretch from here to eternity and back again and with sultry eyes the Mazda can’t fail to charm with its alluring guile.
The rump is curvaceous and appealing too and if it had come with bigger alloys the overall aesthetic would have been pretty much perfect. It has the look of the new CX-5 but is even prettier.
New Mazda3 is the first of the Japanese firm’s next-generation vehicles and reflects the very latest in engineering, design and manufacturing.
Test car came with a 122PS 2.0-litre petrol engine but more power is on the way – and a saloon and all-wheel-drive to boot. Crikey, they are throwing the kitchen sink at it.
Inside has the feel of utter quality thanks to beautifully stitched leather and tactile surfaces. There is a feeling of Japanese master craftsmanship about the 3 as designers and engineers employ the culture of Kodo, a philosophy that insists on the highest quality right down to the tiniest screw.
Inside, the stylish cabin environment takes a minimalist approach with every aspect of the cockpit laid out in perfect horizontal symmetry. The 3 features a seven-inch colour TFT driver instrument display, while the latest version of Mazda’s MZD-Connect infotainment system features a larger 8.8-inch central display, improved navigation and a revised multimedia commander control dial.
Mazda3 also features 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, all helping you forget you are actually in an affordable hatchback. The SE-L Lux also came with a reversing camera, smart keyless entry, heated front seats and a Bose audio.
Looks and cabin ambiance create the perfect conditions for Mazda’s famous ‘Jinba Ittai’, a sense of oneness between car and driver. Comfortable and controlled ride and low levels of noise from the wind, road and motor add further to the experience.
At the risk of getting too technical, under the bonnet the engine features a cylinder deactivation system and Mazda’s M Hybrid 24V system to boost economy.
Mazda has come on leaps and bounds with the latest 3 and in every respect is a better car for it. The outgoing model wasn’t a bad car at all but the latest has become one eminently capable of capturing the public’s attention.
Mazda3 2.0 122ps SE-L Lux
Engine: 2.0 petrol
Top speed: 122mph
0-62mph: 10.4 secs
Combined MPG: 55.4
Transmission: Six-speed manual
CO2 g/km: 117