Two quick glances–inside and out-might well be enough to put this Mazda high on your list of desirable ‘smaller hatchbacks. Especially if the Mazda 3 you’re looking at comes with €870 (£790) worth of ‘soul red crystal metallic’ paint’. It looks stunning!
Mazda was early to discover the pulling power of a fancy red finish (it’s now on its second, even more, alluring version) and you’ll have noticed how everyone else seems to have caught the bug too. However, this latest Mazda 3, priced at €30,080 (£27,375), has more than colour on its side. The GT Sport has a clever 2.0-litre petrol engine that adds €1,736 (£1,580) to the bottom line compared to sticking with the older engine.
The new power unit comes with what Mazda calls spark controlled compression ignition which mixes conventional petrol engine technology with a touch of diesel cleverness to produce better economy and emissions. On maximum power, the 2.0-litre engine acts like a normal petrol unit, where the spark plug sets off the fuel and air mixture in the car’s four cylinders.
Ease back on the throttle (which means most of the time in a typical drive) and the engine turns clever enough for Mazda to claim a world-first for this technology in a petrol engine. In essence, the spark plug ignites a tiny ball of fuel-rich mixture which expands so fast the rest of the much leaner mixture in the cylinder ignites itself, as happens ina diesel engine.
So, the new engine produces 178 bhp against the 120 bhp of the current (and continuing) engine but official fuel economy under tougher and more real-world WLTP testing is as good as 5.5l/100 km (51.4 mpg) compared to the 6.2l/100 km(45.6 mpg) of the older engine.
You can sometimes feel (and hear) the new technology in action, with distant diesel-like hammering at some speeds and there’s a need to rev the engine to extract full overtaking potential, but it’s a convincing case of cleverness, without a doubt.
The rest of the car is more typically old school Mazda, which is nearly all a positive. So you will find a cockpit that’s well put together but veers (correctly) on the side of simpler useability, with switches and knobs rather than taking the full touch screen route that looks sexy but is simply annoying to use. Add to a sharp styling package and the Mazda makes for a competitive and attractive motoring package.
Facts at a Glance
Model:Mazda 3 2.0 GT Sport
Engine: 2.0-Litre Gasolina/Petrol
Manual Performance: 0-100kmh (62 mph) 8.2 seconds/
Maximum Speed 215 kmh (134 mph)
Economy: 5,5l/100km (51.4 mpg)
Combined driving WLTPEmissions: 103 g/km NEDC
Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets
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