Wednesday 7 December 2016

Mazda3 comes with a refreshed interior and an improved driving experience

For 2017, the Mazda3 comes with a refreshed interior and an improved driving experience

Published 16/10/2016 | 02:30

Dynamics: A midlife revamp brings new life to Mazda’s hatchback
Dynamics: A midlife revamp brings new life to Mazda’s hatchback

The life cycle of car models is certainly getting shorter. A newly enhanced Mazda3 has just been launched a mere two years after its previous major makeover. Irish buyers may be moving in the direction of smaller crossovers and compact SUVs but the Mazda3 remains a crucial car in the Japanese carmaker's line-up.

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While the overall silhouette of the 3 is not a huge departure from the current model, changes include a revised grille, new front fog light bezel, LED headlights and taillights, and a new design of 18-inch alloy wheel. The result is a car that looks more purposeful, dynamic and slicker than previous models.

Inside there is a much more premium feel throughout, with a new centre console and infotainment system and the manual handbrake has been replaced by an electronic one. Space is good for the driver and front passenger, but rear seat passengers don't fare quite so well, particularly taller ones as it's a little on the cramped side.

Under the bonnet, there are four engines to choose from: a 105ps 1.5-litre or 150ps 2.2-litre diesel engines and a petrol line-up that includes a 100ps 1.5-litre or 120ps 2.0-litre. A choice of a six-speed manual or automatic is also offered.

The biggest change to the Mazda3 is the addition of a system known as G-Vectoring Control (GVC) that it is designed to provide more precise handling and improved comfort.

Essentially how it works is the software in the engine management system takes inputs from the steering wheel angle and vehicle speed to reduce engine torque to improve cornering performance.

The whole process happens in a split-second and is virtually imperceptible, but the G-Vectoring system is not only about road holding and driving dynamics; it improves handling and even when the road is straight, it minimises steering effort. This in turn means the overall experience of driving is less tiring and, even for passengers, it's a calmer and smoother experience. As a result it is also likely to reduce travel sickness especially for children and passengers.

Mazda chose Scotland's highlands to unveil its latest model where impressive mountain scenery served as a stunning backdrop to hairpin bends, road dips and narrow single-track sections.

The new 3 did not disappoint, it is fun to drive, composed and the steering is well weighted while the somewhat stiff suspension keeps the car nicely grounded on twisty roads.

In terms of engines the 2.2 diesel is an impressive performer and the one to opt for as it offers the best combination of performance and economy, the smaller 1.5 diesel struggles by comparison.

The 2017 Mazda3 range will start at €23,295 and comes in four trim levels: Executive, Executive SE, GT and Platinum.

The Mazda3 has always been a favourite among those who value driving dynamics, reliability and efficiency and the new model improves in almost every way. So if you crave a fun-to-drive car on a winding back road but you still need something practical and economical, the new 3 is one to consider.

Sunday Independent

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