Power Of Three
“You’re kidding?” That was the response our editor Daryl Loy got after telling us that both a BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz A Class were offered up for comparison against the brand new fourth-gen Mazda3 during a recent press event in Sepang.
Even after considering the fact that both the Beemer and Merc were from their last respective generations, that’s quite a bold statement from the seemingly left-field Japanese brand. If anything, it only got us even more curious about the new Mazda3.
Our curiosity was finally answered when we got the chance to road test the new Japanese C-segment fighter recently. Though we were relegated with a ‘mid-spec’ 2.0 High sedan variant, there was much to bask in and experience altogether.
With a knack for not following trends, the new Mazda3 sports a very distinctive look indeed. Though we prefer the hatch and its sexier derriere, the 3 didn’t look too shabby in sedan form, even in this mid-spec trim line featured.
What gives away this variant is its halogen daytime-running lights (DRLs), 16-inch alloy wheels, and the preference for shiny chrome exterior trim as opposed to gloss black reserved for its entry-level and premium-spec hatchback siblings.
Unlike its predecessor, this new one looks much simpler, which in turn is where its newfound design elegance lies in. Climb aboard and this minimalistic approach is repeated here too, but with greater effect.
What’s certain here is that Mazda have raised the ambience, with this new 3’s cabin feeling a lot richer than the last. And it’s not just the plush leather seat covers and pleasant soft-touch trims that are fuelling this.
Thumb the start button and the new 3’s heart comes to life with ease. While not the peppiest of the lot, Mazda’s signature 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated Skyactiv four-banger doesn’t feel too shabby in this new 3.
There’s enough low- and mid-range twist to get this sedan’s claimed 1,402kg heft off the line easily. Adding to this is a decently smooth six-speed box that sends all 162bhp and 213Nm available exclusively to the front wheels.
On the move, it becomes clear why Mazda chose the aforementioned German cars as benchmarks. Noise, vibration and harshness suppression, an area where Mazda tends to hit-and-miss in the past, sees huge improvements overall here.
Don’t be mistaken, it doesn’t eclipse said benchmarking Germans, but is sufficient for anyone to acquire peaceful Zen whilst dealing with the typically chaotic daily grind through urban traffic.
What helps here is the presence of enough creature comforts and convenience. Leading this bill is of course the updated MZD Connect infotainment suite, which now sports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
Of course, nothing’s perfect, and this mid-spec Mazda sedan is no exception. There are some annoyances to live with, like the absent parking sensors to aid the reverse camera function that is present.
Space, on the other hand, is generous up front, but not so much at the rear, especially if you’re the tall and lanky type. Nevertheless, this isn’t a huge deal-breaker given just much more refined this Mazda rides and handles than before.
Those helming the wheel will be glad to know Mazda’s novel yet ingenious G-Vectoring Control Plus (GVC Plus) is primed as standard across the board, meaning you won’t find yourselves too tired after long drives in this particular sedan.
As this isn’t the flagship 2.0 High Plus variant, we’ll forgive it for not featuring Mazda’s full swing of i-ActiveSense active safety features such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning, lane-keep assist and correction, and city braking.
What is unforgivable with this mid-spec offering though is the premium price tag it demands, and that’s despite us taking into account that it’s in fully imported (CBU) form at present too.
That said, the Mazda’s draw will be hard to resist for some, especially for those yearning for something as sleek, elegant, respectably plush and well-equipped.
For those who are willing to cough up the dough, you’ll be glad to know Mazda’s typical five-year or 100,000km warranty and free service coverage is included in the RM160,059 price tag this sedan commands.
Price aside, let’s just say that as far as posh refinements and dynamic driving standards in this segment go, this new Mazda3 has risen the bar indeed. If anything, we’re keen to see how its rivals will keep up with it.
As far as posh refinements and dynamic driving standards in this segment go, this new Mazda3 has risen the bar indeed.
|Sleek looks, posh ambience, decent levels of tech, and sweet to drive||Price, price and price. Also, rear cabin is a tad bid cramped for some|