The New Mazda 3 – First Drive
It takes a lot to build on something hugely successful for any brand; it takes a bold new move in another direction in design and tech. The 7th generation Mazda 3 has recently been introduced locally, off the bat it looks bloody good, front end is bold with a wide oval black gloss grille, widened headlights with oval LED daytime running lights, a nose that is sleek and elongated with smooth sloping effect.
The side profile is enhanced by the anthracite multi spoke wheels on a rather non creased canvas; the flowing design is fresh and quite a welcome sight. The chrome beading on the windows adds some detail, the shoulder line is blended in so well you may miss it if not inspected closely.
The rear end is clean with some high gloss detail inserts like the roof spoiler and lower bumper detail, the highlight here has to be the lights and those polished seperated twin tailpipes . The interior is a great highlight, the feel of the leather, the flow of the abstract driver oriented dash. The steering wheel felt a tad thin but looks bloody good and the multi-function usability does take some getting used to thanks to the tiny buttons, then again I have bigger fingers. The paddle shifters are a welcome sight and feel, The front sports inspired seats are a great feel and look, now you can even spec your next Mazda 3 with red leather seats, how cool is that! Door panels are well padded and detailed in solid black, the flow is just magnificent, and everything oozes style, taste and high quality.
The centre console flows with dash design and the top mounted screen faces at angle to the driver, the gearlever is solid and feels good, controls around the lever are quite user friendly. The Bose 12 speaker sound system has been reworked for better space and a better sound output experience, it does not disappoint, one just needs to set it up nicely. The cluster is now digital and can be altered in several ways at the touch of a button
The new model is powered by the entry level 1.5L four cylinder naturally aspirated engine, this develops 88kw and 153nm of torque, the top of the range 2.0 generates 121kw and 213nm of torque from a normally aspirated motor. I never got to sample the entry level at the launch, however the 2.0L felt more alive than its predecessor with an sharper throttle, the ride quality is brilliant and handling is sublime, the new comer is equipped with sports mode , after engaging that it when you come to realize you do need extra oomph of a blower. However the delivery is not boring, how this car handles the twisty bits is quite impressive, it encourages confidence. The brakes do great job of bringing one to a halt even without much effort. There is a host of added safety features, like the head up display, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot alert to mention but a few. In terms of specification it is quite impressive how generous Mazda was in this model.
Overall , the first impression is good to say the least, while the thought of a blower would make this an impressive performer one has to consider that an average Mazda buyer would be happy with this offering, I strongly believe they may just convert others to go Mazda.
Pricing starts from R359 900 to R474 000 for the hatch, the sedan starts from R357 000 to R470 800 , both are backed by a 3 year unlimited kilometer service plan , warranty and roadside assistance.
Thanks to Nosipho and her team for a great launch, biggest dinner gathering I have ever attended.
Yours in motoring
Wezile Lorenzio Bonani.