Monday 19 March 2018

New Mazda3 misses a trick with surprise lack of turbo

Martin Brennan

Mazda likes to surprise us when it launches a new model. Dramatic weight reduction in recent models has been taken up by other companies and the design features of the Mazda6 and CX-5 have been applauded with awards.

The new Mazda3, its best selling model, is equally good looking and boasts 30 per cent more rigidity, 30 per cent less friction and 20 per cent lower fuel consumption than the outgoing model. But the surprise here is that the company is still out of step with rivals when it comes to its engines.

The 1.5 litre and 2-litre petrol engines have no turbo and the only diesel on offer is a 2.2-litre unit.

Using a big diesel in a compact family car will raise eyebrows. However Mazda points out that, as taxes are no longer based on cubic capacity, their twin turbo 150bhp unit has a very good C02 figure of 104 g/km because of its efficiency, with a combined fuel consumption figure of 3.9L/100km (73 mpg) in the saloon version.

There are indications that a 1.6 turbo unit may be on the way but Mazda will not confirm this. The 1.5-litre, 100 bhp petrol engine returns 5L/100km (56 mpg) in mixed driving according to Mazda and will suit urban family use where performance is not a priority. The diesel, more lively in the Mazda3 than the Mazda6 because of the lighter weight, is aimed at the high-mileage business driver. There is also a 2-litre petrol unit

The build quality is right up with top German marques and it even sports a BMW-style i-Drive knob in the centre console which in certain models controls a head up display (speed, navigation and local speed limit), and smart phone connectivity.

Auto City Braking brings the car to a halt if a possible collision is detected while driving under 30km/h. Active radar cruise control, lane departure and a 7" screen on the dash give a safe, comfortable feel.

Outside sleek lines help to make the new car the most aerodynamic in its class, according to Mazda engineers, while grille shutters and underbody deflectors give a wind cheating airflow which helps economy as well as keeping noise levels down.

Handling qualities are up there with the rival Ford Focus and VW Golf.

Prices will be announced later for January sales but expect entry-level models to be competitive with rivals at under €20,000.

In the next two years Mazda is set to launch five new models including a CX-3 to take on the Nissan Juke. A new Mazda2 supermini will make an appearance next year and the company is collaborating with Alfa Romeo to develop the next MX-5 alongside a new Spider. Also on the cards is a new 7-seater CX-7.

Sunday Independent

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