The new Mazda3 is now on sale in Ireland priced from €26,295
The new Mazda3 is now on sale in Ireland priced from €26,295

Caroline drives the new Mazda3!

Mazda has recently launched an all-new generation of the Mazda3 hatchback and saloon. Since I began testing cars, the Mazda3 has always been one of my favourite cars in the compact class for its stylish looks, high quality cabin and fun, sporty drive.

But it was time for a change. Reflecting the current move in the industry to integrating hybrid technology to boost efficiency, the news is that Mazda has also launched the Mazda3 with mild hybrid technology. There’s also a revolutionary new petrol engine due to arrive shortly (‘Skyactiv-X’) that promises the free-revving performance of a petrol engine with the response and fuel economy of a diesel.

Mazda has gently progressed the styling of the Mazda3 with stunning results. The curvature of the sheet metal around the rear quarters of the hatchback is particularly interesting. The new Mazda3 is clearly one of the style icons of its class!

The Mazda3 2.0-litre petrol engine now features mild hybrid technology to boost efficiency and reduce emissions
The Mazda3 2.0-litre petrol engine now features mild hybrid technology to boost efficiency and reduce emissions

The interior of the new Mazda3

Inside, the interior has progressed to a more cohesive and stylish design. The material quality is excellent and the new digital instrument panel is modern and easy to read. The infotainment has also been updated and improved with a new screen and rotary controller on the centre console. In terms of space, the new Mazda3 will seat five and is reasonably spacious in the rear for this class of vehicle. At 351 litres, the boot is about average for the compact class.

For Ireland there will be a choice of four trim levels for the hatchback: GS, GS-L, GT and GT Sport. Standard equipment includes air con, an 8.8-inch colour entertainment screen, 7-inch digital dashboard, window projected colour Active Driving Display, 16” alloys, LED headlights with High Beam Control, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring with rear traffic alert, E-Call and Lane Keep Assist. Every model in the line-up also features navigation, Apple CarPlay™/Android Auto™ and an eight speaker audio system.

GS-L includes a reversing camera, smart keyless entry and heated front seats, while the GT model is equipped with 18” alloy wheels and a black leather interior. At the top of the range the GT Sport sees an enhanced cabin with additional chrome detailing, a frameless rear view mirror, rear privacy glass and Bose® twelve speaker audio system.

At launch the new Mazda3 is available with the 2.0 Skyactiv-G petrol (122hp) and the 1.8 Skyactiv-D diesel (116hp). These are not new engines, but the 2.0-litre petrol now has support from a 24 volt mild hybrid system and cylinder deactivation to improve efficiency. The new 2.0-litre petrol Skyactiv-X will join later with 180hp. Manual and automatic gearboxes are available.

My test car was a Mazda3 2.0 Skyactiv-G GT Sport with a list price of €30,795.

The interior of the new Mazda3
The interior of the new Mazda3

On the road in the new Mazda3

The new Mazda3 has been built upon a new vehicle architecture that promises better handling, ride comfort and refinement. According to Mazda, every element of the car – the seats, body, tyres and suspension – has been developed with “a human centred approach” to ensure that Mazda’s famous ‘Jinba Ittai’ sense of oneness between car and driver is more finely balanced than ever before.

A torsion beam rear suspension has been used to improve refinement over a variety of road surfaces and we can say that is has worked because road noise is gone in this new generation. The Mazda3 is comfortable for the most part but doesn’t take the edge off potholes, manhole covers and other bumps and ridges in the road surface you will encounter around town. The car feels sporty and flat through bends and the steering is also well-weighted.

Bucking the trend for small turbocharged petrol engines, the 2.0-litre petrol in the Mazda3 is a naturally aspirated affair because Mazda believe this is still the best way to get good fuel efficiency from a petrol engine. It is certainly more efficient than what one might think for an engine of this capacity. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.6l/100km, while motor tax is €200 per year. However, it does deliver its power differently and I did miss the in-gear punch of a turbo unit. It can feel a little more lazy, though it is very quiet and refined on the move!

The new Mazda3 is positioned near the top of the compact class in terms of price but it comes with a high-quality interior and plenty of standard equipment. The Mazda3 offers an excellent drive and cabin experience. Engine choice is a little bit left field in the Mazda3 range but in terms of power and efficiency, perfectly acceptable.

The new Mazda3 is a sophisticated machine that looks good just about anywhere!

The Mazda3 is a stylish and sporty hatchback for the compact class
The Mazda3 is a stylish and sporty hatchback for the compact class

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Mazda3 2.0 Skyactiv-G GT Sport
€30,795 (Range from €26,295)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol mild hybrid
122 hp
Torque: 213 Nm
10.4 seconds
Top speed: 197 km/h
Fuel economy:
6.3 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
142 g/km
Motor tax: 
€200 per year