Launch impressions: new Mazda3

Setting a new benchmark in the small call segment.

When Mazda Australia revealed its new, fourth-generation Mazda3 two months ago, the only thing missing was a searching drive of the car. It was, after all, a reveal.

All that was redressed at the official launch on April 8, where the Australian motoring press got to drive the new hatch in its various specification grades and engine types from Sydney airport to Killcare, near Woy Woy, via Wisemans Ferry and back the next day.

The 300+ kilometre round trip took in some of the worst of Sydney’s notorious cross-city traffic, much motorway cruising and, best of all, plenty of quiet, twisty back roads.

Our wheels for the Sydney to Killcare leg was the range topping G25 Astina, powered by the 139kW/252Nm Skyactiv, 2.5-litre DOHC four-cylinder mated to a six-speed auto transmission. Coming back, we experienced the other end of the range, the G20 Evolve with 114kW/200Nm Skyactiv, 2.0-litre engine and auto.

Both cars delivered on Mazda’s rhetoric of new standards of ride comfort, vehicle dynamics and NVH (noise/vibration/harshness) suppression. The latter, particularly, impressed mightily, seemingly regardless of speed and road condition; the smoothness and quietness proving nearly uncanny.

The new seat structure, designed to firmly support the pelvis in an upright position to maintain the spine’s natural S-shaped curve, did indeed validate Mazda’s claims of less fatigue and greater comfort on longer drives.

Mazda3 interior

Less quantifiable was the improvement to the car’s dynamics as a result of revised McPherson struts at the front and a newly-developed torsion beam set-up at the rear. Perhaps that’s something that our usual week-long road test might illuminate. Regardless, it’s obvious that Mazda has succeeded in making its very good small car even more so.

The new Mazda3 hatchback is available now in showrooms, with the sedan due to come mid-year. Also to arrive will be the innovative and revolutionary Skyactiv-X engine option before end of the year.

Setting a new benchmark for entry-level safety in the small car segment, the standard safety kit has been overhauled, offering all grades a comprehensive suite of technologies that previously came only on the Astina.
 
Standard across the range is Mazda Radar Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Smart Brake Support, Lane-keep Assist System, Lane Departure Warning and Forward Obstruction Warning.

Manufacturer’s List Prices (not inclusive of on-road costs) range from $24,990 to $37,990.

Mazda3 action rear