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Date: 10 May 2017 Author Type:
Author: Julian Lurie
Source: Julian Lurie
The 2017 Mazda 3 is one of the best, and perhaps one of the most often overlooked, medium sized cars on the market, and now with the re-design, it has once again moved the goal posts.

The new Mazda 2.0 litre models are the first to introduce the G-Vectoring Control system. According to Mazda, the G-Vectoring Control was born of Mazda's human-centered development philosophy and the novel idea of using the engine to enhance chassis performance. It is the world's first control system to vary engine torque in response to steering inputs in order to provide integrated control of lateral and longitudinal acceleration forces and optimize the vertical load on each wheel for smooth and efficient vehicle motion.

The new model has really attractive styling, more features, and with the full suite of SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, improved performance and economy. With its long bonnet and cab rearward posture and raked profile, to its new five-point grille with the updated Mazda badge sitting slightly lower than the current model, its sleekly slanted headlamps, new fog lights, wide-stance and muscular fenders, the taut character lines flow into a chiseled rear.

The press car was fitted with new 10-spoke alloy wheels, shod with Dunlop Sport 215/45R18 low profile radials, with a space saver spare under the boot board,. It is the KODO "soul of motion" design that gave the Mazda3 its bold presence.

The new Mazda3 is available in both sedan and hatchback configurations and the range comprises twelve variants – six hatchbacks and six 4-door sedans - two engine sizes and a choice of either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic gearboxes. The model featured in these road impressions is the Mazda3 2.0 Astina Plus Automatic 4-door sedan.

Inside, Mazda has redesigned the cockpit and moved somewhat up-market and all switches, buttons and levers are well positioned. The interior design is a step up from the old model. The redesigned instrument cluster features a central rev counter, which also houses the digital speedometer, flanked by digital information displays on either side, and a row of warning lights below. All switches, buttons and levers are well positioned, and the three aircon vents, with one at each end of the dash and one centrally situated, distributes the air very well.

An odd little plastic screen above the instrument binnacle pops up while driving to project the ”Head-Up” display on the windscreen ahead of the driver. It works well showing current speed and the speed limit, so the driver doesn’t have to take his eyes off the road, and it disappears into the dash when the ignition is turned off.

The new Mazda3 feels roomier than the previous model and therefore has more interior space. The front seats are supportive and well-bolstered, while at the back, two six-footers are accommodated very comfortably but things could be tight for three adults. It also has an enormous boot.

The all-new Mazda3 has an impressive list of standard features, plus some active-safety features that go beyond what's usually on offer in an affordable compact car.

These include leather upholstery, push-button start, keyless entry, rear-seat heater ducts, tilt/telescopic steering, and electric windows, locks, and mirrors, reverse camera, integrated navigation, power lumber support, BOSE Sound System with 9 Speakers, dual-zone climate control, 8-way electrically operated driver’s seat, blind spot monitoring and rear parking sensors.

Other features are the adaptive LED headlights, daytime running lights, lane departure warning, lane assist system and Smart City Brake Support, while the press car has a sunroof as well.

New for Mazda is the Connect system, which uses a large, touch-screen display mounted above the dash – looks a bit like an add on - but it is well positioned and its relatively easy-to-navigate. Menus are selected via the touch screen or with the rotary Command Controller on the floor console between the front seats, and it’s easy to use.

Mazda’s infotainment system has been upgraded to keep up with new technology such as .smartphones and tablet computers enabling one to be connected in real time with their online community regardless of where they are, Mazda has developed its new operating system MZD CONNECT to be intuitive and less distracting, which leads to an overall safer and more pleasurable driving experience. Safety features in the new Mazda3 include the SKYACTIV-BODY designed to absorb impact energy from any direction, six airbags, power-assisted ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control,. a collapsible steering column, three-point safety belts for all seating positions, as well as ISOFIX child-seat anchors.

The new Mazda3 2.0 Astina 6-speed Automatic four door sedan is powered by the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 121 kW at 6 000 rpm and 210 Nm of torque at 4 000rpm, and drives the front wheels through the six-speed automatic transmission.

In terms of performance the Mazda3 2.0 Astina 5-speed Automatic was quite impressive doing the 0 to 100 km/h dash in 10.8 seconds and it has a top speed of 195 km/h, to make the 3 one of the quickest cars in its class. The gearbox also has a Sport mode, but to be quite honest, I could feel very little difference.

Petrol consumption is given as 7 litres per 100 kms but as is usually the case the test car gave me a reading of 8.9 litres per 100 km. Seated behind the wheel, the interior has a quality feel. Press the button to start the engine, and at idle, it’s as quiet as a mouse. Select “D” and the car pulls off smoothly. Acceleration is quite nippy, and the Mazda3 cruises very comfortably at the 120 limit with the rev counter needle at 2 200 rpm in 6th.

The automatic transmission is excellent, with slick changing for up- and downshifts. A plus for the Mazda automatic gearbox is that when in manual mode is selected it operates like a true manual in that it will not change gear, even at the rev limit, until the driver decides to change, either by rowing the gear lever back or forth, or via the paddles behind the steering wheel.

Ride comfort s good, and the Mazda3 soaks up larger bumps very efficiently. In corners turn-in is crisp and body control is very good. The power steering is well-weighted and tends to tighten up around corners for better feedback.

The brake response is also improved to be more responsive, and in an emergency stop from 100 km/h it pulled up straight and true in just over 3 seconds which is good.

The recommended retail selling price for the Mazda3 2.0 Astina Plus 6-speed Automatic 4-door sedan is R408 400. The price includes a 3-year unlimited kilometer factory warranty, 3-year roadside assistance, a 3-year service plan and a 5-year Corrosion Warranty.
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