Saturday 23 September 2017

After all the talk, it's 3-time for the new Mazda family hatchback

The 3 - an attractive proposition
The 3 - an attractive proposition

Declan O'Byrne

The new Mazda 3 , unveiled in Germany recently, bears the same sweeping contours that made the the '6' so attractive.

Good looks apart, the question is whether the 3 will generate significant appeal as it enters a crowded and depressed marketplace, dominated by the likes of the VW Golf.

Given the car maker's reputation for turning out sturdy and reliable vehicles, the answer is probably 'yes'.

The 3 is certainly an attractive proposition from the outside while a test drive of 150 kilometres revealed the cockpit-like cabin to be well-finished, if a little claustrophobic at first.

All key instrumentation is within easy reach of the driver, something the designers emphasised. They even devised a complicated mathematical formula to calculate the nano-seconds a driver's eyes would be off the road while using a switch on the instrumentation panel.

It was an example of the designers' intention to make the car one of the safest on the road.

Though neat, with a feel of quality, the cabin could benefit from the use of some lighter materials to make it more airy.

While space for driver and passenger is adequate, three rear seat passengers may find their comfort zone a little compromised.

On the road, crucially, the car performed steadily and best with a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel while we found the alternative, a 1.5-litre petrol, lacking in zest.

With a price tag expected to start at €23,500, the 3 won't hold much of an advantage over its keenest rivals in the segment in that regard. But it could score significantly with a plethora of state of the art connectivity and social media technology.

It's a lengthy list which Mazda's rivals would do well to study intensively. Whether prospective buyers of the 3 ultimately make a positive 'connection' between quality and value for money only time will tell.

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