By Amanda Mfuphi
Recently we had the opportunity of spending time with the Mazda3 1.5L Individual Automatic. This presented us with the opportunity to take it to the KwaZulu-Natal for a road trip. The Mazda3 is in its seventh generation and although Mazda has generally kept its Mazda3 formula, the new Mazda3 distinguishes itself as a classier and more premium package.
The new Mazda3 is quite a looker and attracts a lot of attention. Mazda has infused the new Mazda3 with its Kodo Soul Motion design language which offers a combination of graceful and energetic lines. On approach, the new Mazda3 looks like a cheetah that is ready to pounce on its prey. This look is created by the large front black gloss grille with the large silver Mazda insignia. Our Mazda3 Individual derivative came standard with LED headlamps incorporating a daytime running function and 18-inch grey metallic alloy wheels. At the rear, the Mazda3 comes with a wide rear bumper, double exhaust and rear spoiler. Overall, the exterior of the new Mazda3 makes a bold statement about how premium the Mazda3 has become and certainly makes the car easy to look at.
Stepping inside, the Mazda3 looks and feels premium and is quite spacious. Our test Mazda3 came with the optional burgundy red leather seats and dash trims, which added to the upscale feel of the Mazda3. The seats were also comfortable and provided sufficient padding and comfort throughout our journey to Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal. The Mazda3 comes standard with smart advanced keyless entry, cruise control and auto-rain sensors. For space, the load bay of the Mazda3 is 295 litres with the rear seats up but increases to approximately 1333 litres when the rear seats are folded.
On the infotainment front, our test Mazda3 Individual had the MZD Connect System, which comes with the 8.8-inch Display Screen, Commander Dial, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 2 USB connectivity ports and Bluetooth connectivity. To round up the entertainment offering, the Mazda3 Individual range is fitted with the (optional) 12 speaker BOSE sound system with a subwoofer with made our trip to Vryheid extra enjoyable.
In terms of safety, the Mazda3 comes standard with 7 airbags, ABS, EBD, brake assist, dynamic stability control and hill launch assist. The Astina derivative adds features such as adaptive LED headlights, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
Power and drive
The Mazda3 Individual Automatic is powered by a 1.5 litre naturally aspirated engine which pushes out 88 kW of power and 153 Nm of torque. The engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission gearbox. We found the acceleration to be not punchy at take-off but rather gradual or progressive as the engine works up the momentum. The 1.5L engine requires patience and does not need you to rush it. However, the sport mode function does aid the response, but this is not a long-term solution as the fuel consumption goes up. We found the drive of the Mazda3 to offer great levels of comfort, but the overall experience was let down by the naturally aspirated 1.5 litre engine which felt to be quite not up to task as it ran out of steam and sounded noisy as it laboured away. Lacking in power and having to overcompensate for this by shifting to lower gears often, we found the car to be a bit thirsty averaging 9.8L/100km on the national highway for our trip to KwaZulu-Natal. We think it may be time for Mazda to consider introducing a smaller turbo engine to improve the driving experience and fuel efficiency.
Taken as a whole, aside from the engine, we were impressed with the new Mazda3 with our standout features being the exterior design and cabin space, and quality. We definitely think the new Mazda3 should be counted amongst the premium offerings in its segment.
The Mazda3 retails from R359,900.00 and comes with a 3-year/unlimited km warranty, 3-year/unlimited km service plan, 5-year corrosion warranty and 3 years’ roadside assistance.
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