ON THE ROAD- IAN LYNAS DRIVES THE NEW MAZDA3 SALOON
Mazda have produced something very special and positioned it in their new Mazda3 Saloon- the new Skyactiv-X Spark Controlled Compression Ignition Engine.
The stylish newcomer joins the already well established Hatchback. For the Japanese carmaker it is a first with their Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) technology as Skyactiv-X is the world’s first production petrol engine to exploit the benefits of compression ignition.
I spent a week with the new car and I observed the free-revving performance of a petrol engine with superior efficiency, much like a diesel. The drive was effortless, aided in no small way by a super smooth six speed manual transmission. The only tell tale to the outside world that I was driving something just that little bit special, was the distinctive mild note from the engine. The engine, probably the best I have encountered for a very long time, is a two litre four-cylinder with 180PS and features the highest compression ratio for a production petrol engine in the world, while its lean burn capabilities ensure outstanding fuel economy and low emissions. This is matched to the Mazda M Hybrid 24V mild-hybrid system that recycles recovered kinetic energy. A belt-driven integrated starter generator (ISG) converts the energy in the 600kJ lithium-ion battery, while the DC-DC converter supplies it to the cars electrical equipment, further improving efficiency.
My test example was in Sport Lux spec with a low emission rating of 102g/km. Performance wise, rest to 100kph (62mph) in 8.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 216kph (134mph), certainly no slouch. Transmission choice is manual or automatic and I had the super smooth six speed manual. The newcomer is best described as a compact premium Saloon and it shares just its bonnet and windscreen with the Hatchback, ensuring that it delivers a uniquely elegant and executive look. Visually distinct from the Hatchback, the all-new Saloon’s design flows from front to rear in a single motion, the smooth surface movements evoke elegance and maturity akin to the VISION COUPE concept car. Its chrome plated grille and unique front bumper adopt a horizontal layout that accentuate a low and wide stance on the road. The combined result is a refined expression of sophistication.
Moving to the interior and the stylish cabin environment takes a minimalist approach with every aspect of the cockpit laid out in perfect horizontal symmetry with the driver to deliver both ergonomic simplicity and beautiful design. Items that I must highlight the heated front seats, probably the best I have ever encountered in a car and why do I state such. Not only is the base of the seat heated but also a large chunk of the back. Those in our midst who may have a back problem would really benefit.
During my period that I had it on test it certainly caught the attention of many and for me it was a refreshing test drive away from the large number of SUVs that I have driven so far this year. Please do not get the wrong impression, there is nothing wrong in my book with the SUV, such continues to prove popular across a wide customer base. This Mazda could just be the spark to rekindle an interest in cars with a boot, which in a way seem to have fallen out of favour. With an identical wheelbase as the Hatchback, the Saloon is 200mm longer, while the 444-litre boot ensures this stylish newcomer delivers impressive levels of practicality. This is one vehicle that will appeal to the business user. All versions are specified with a level of standard equipment never seen before on a Mazda in this area of the market, including high-end technology such as a windscreen projecting colour head-up display with traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and LED headlights across the range. Every model features navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and an advanced eight speaker audio system. There is no doubt that once again Mazda have produced a winner as the new member to the family not only scores with this new amazing engine, but with style and packaging. Recently the Mazda3 took the top honour in the annual Women’s World Car of the Year Awards 2019 in Dubai, judged the supreme winner and Best Family Car.