Hand on heart, I can safely say that car launches are an amazing experience. Most Car companies go to great lengths to organise events that offer idyllic surroundings that match the vehicle they are introducing. Racetracks for Sportscars, off-road adventures for more utilitarian vehicles, I think you get the point. Earlier this year, Mazda took us to the picturesque South Island, resplendent with glorious visages and simply stunning landscapes to unveil the ‘beautiful’ new Mazda3, where we spent two days enjoying both the vehicle and the hospitality. But what happens when you take away the stunning South island, picture-postcard backdrop? What are you left with? Well, as I have just found out by having the Mazda3 at home for a week, heaps.
As with most things in life, it’s only when you spend time with someone or, in this case, something, that you truly begin to get to know them and with a fairly free calendar to play with, the Mazda3 hatch got my (and my family’s) undivided attention.
The model I had been offered was the Mazda3 Hatch, Limited, essentially top of the line and boy was it. Dressed in Polymetal Metallic Grey, which according to Mazda ‘fuses the hard appearance of metal with a glossy smoothness,’ it’s a newly developed colour that comes exclusive to the hatch, changing colour depending on the light and accentuates the beautiful lines of the bodywork. I agree that this sounds like PR talk but, dammit if it isn’t true. I was ‘lucky’ enough to have Auckland’s ‘four seasons’ weather thrown at me during the week and it seemed to be a different hue every day. I’m a fan of the Soul Red but this really does suit the new 3.
The rest of the Mazda3’s body shape really attracts the light, I urge you to (if you’re a geek like me) to take the time to walk around the car in during the day and watch the light ‘dance’ as it prisms and refracts – maybe I need to get a hobby.
It’s not just pretty outside either, for, as with all really beautiful things, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Its leather furniture is warm and inviting, offering comfort and support both in the front and for those in the rear. Mazda’s Jinba Ittai (horse and rider as one) philosophy is prevalent, with all your driving needs fulfilled both in physical buttons, dials and tactile switches but also by the drive itself, which I’ll get to in a moment.
The sounds are provided by Bose, so you know they will be clear, the 8.8” touchscreen easily connects to your Apple or Android device and the suite of driver and safety aids seems virtually endless – it’s these things that become more and more important as you look to keep your family protected and entertained. However, when they’re not around, the Mazda3 will happily provide YOU with plenty to smile about as you engage Sport mode.
Under the bonnet (in my model) was a SKYACTIV-G 2.5 litre in-line, 4-cylinder, 16 valve, DOHC S-VT petrol engine with i-stop. It sounds like a mouthful but it’s got plenty of bite. 138kW and 240Nm of torque, all directed to the front wheels of this very nippy hatch. The accelerator is electronic so the response is quick and the 6-speed Auto Gearbox comes with paddles for extra pleasure. It’s got G-Vectoring to keep you pointing in the right direction, however, there’s ample play in the corners to ensure you’re not bored anytime soon. There is a maturity about the ride but don’t read that as fuddy-duddy, for this is a feisty little hatchback when you decide to push it a little.
From the driveway to drive away the new Mazda3 offers plenty of appeal. It’s easy on the eye and even easier to drive. There’s more than enough refinement to keep you, the family and the neighbours impressed and enough ‘mongrel’ to keep you entertained when they’re not around.