Mazda 3: X Factor – The Irish News

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X sedan

One of the highlights of last year was the arrival of Mazda & # 39; s latest 3 hatchback, writes William Scholes.

The family hatchback market of course has no shortage of very talented contenders. The Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus are just two of the most suitable rivals for your family money.

For comparison: the magical Mazda 3 feels like it has been dusted with fairy dust.

Beautiful to look at, fantastic to drive, imbued with quality, packed with technology and conceived with the kind of intelligent resistance that makes Mazda such an interesting car manufacturer, the 3 was one of my stars in 2019.

However, it is not perfect. The ride can be stiff on the varied asphalt of Northern Ireland.

The low roofline and thick pillars that make the hatchback look so stunning also make the rear seat feel dark and on the tight side – not ideal for a family car whose rear passengers are rather small children than not.

Mazda, however, has a solution for this, in the well-formed form of the sedan version of the 3.

It gets a slightly higher roof line, which feels like a larger rear window than the hatch and loses the thick pillars of that car and therefore generally feels lighter.

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X sedan

The sedan and hatchback share the same 2727 mm wheelbase, but the bodywork of the four-door is 20 cm longer.

This, if these things are important to you, produces a more comfortable shoe. The salon is usable larger than that of the hatch and grows from 351 liters in volume to 444 liters.

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X sedan

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X sedan

It is, as you can see, still a fantastic car. The only parts of the body that are shared with the hatchback are that long bonnet and the slim windshield; the rest is custom work.

The interior is transferred from the hatch. This is definitely a good thing, especially for the driver and front passenger.

They enjoy lots of space, super comfortable seats and instruments and switches that are arranged wisely and clearly.

There is no over-reliance on a touchscreen to operate the car's functions, thank goodness. There is of course a centrally mounted screen on top of the dashboard. It's smaller than some of the jumbo iPads you'll find elsewhere, but in my opinion that's no worse.

The Mazda 3 is beautiful to look at, fantastic to drive, advanced with quality, packed with technology and conceived with intelligent resistance

A large button and a group of switches – the & # 39; Commander Control & # 39 ;, in Mazda language, is located behind the gear lever. It is intuitive and easy to operate the radio, satellite navigation, telephone, etc. Steering wheel control adds an extra layer of usability.

The overall effect of the design and layout of the cabin is the transfer of quality and a premium feel; just like the outside then.

As you would expect, the sedan drives just like the hatchback. A fairly excellent driving position and, thanks to that long, low hood, an excellent view of the road ahead of us, make this an easy, confidence-inspiring car to drive.

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X sedan

The most important controls – brakes, gas, clutch, gear and control – are constantly weighted and flexible. Everything you serve feels thoroughly developed and expensive.

It is quiet and refined on the road – especially when compared to the previous generation Mazda 3 – but offers a good balance between comfort and the company's characteristic sporty handling.

Where the hatchback can be obtained with a diesel or & # 39; regular & # 39; petrol engine, the salon is only offered with the new, and very high-tech, Skyactiv-X petrol engine from Mazda.

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X sedan

This is a typical idiosyncratic Mazda innovation and a real breakthrough – the engineers must not have read the obituaries written for the combustion engine when the era of the battery-electric era comes …

Mazda has EV & # 39; s on the road, but considering the & # 39; entire lifetime & # 39; emissions and caring for the environment, it expects there is enough life left in the gasoline engine.

At this time you can get the Skyactiv-X unit in the 3 hatchback and the new CX-30 SUV and this will be expanded to other Mazda models in due course.

But what makes Skyactiv-X special? It uses what Mazda calls the & # 39; Spark Controlled Compression Ignition & # 39; technology; others have tried to make this work in the past – the current Formula 1 car engines use a similar system – but Mazda is the first to take it into production.

The theory is that it enables the engine to provide the free-running properties of a gasoline engine with the torque-sensitive responsiveness of a diesel, but also very & # 39; lean & # 39; to run, resulting in low emissions and high fuel consumption.

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X sedan

Indeed, it runs so thin that the fuel-air mixture injected into the engine's cylinders has so little fuel that a normal gasoline engine with spark plugs could not fire it.

The ability to use a compression ratio of 16.3: 1 – the highest of all gasoline engines produced and even higher than most diesel engines – is crucial to the operation of the Skyactiv-X engine.

It can also work as a more conventional gasoline engine by using a spark plug to ignite the fuel-air mixture under certain conditions.

Being able to seamlessly switch between diesel-like and more typical gasoline combustion cycles makes this new Mazda engine revolutionary.

The first iteration of Skyactiv-X to reach these shores is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 178bhp and 165lb.ft; that torque is higher than a comparable Mazda gasoline engine and the peak torque is also produced lower in the speed range.

The fuel consumption in the combined cycle is as good as 52.3 mpg using the official WLTP assessment and the CO2 emissions are as low as 99 g / km.

The engine is louder and grim at startup – more diesel-like than gasoline – than you would expect for a car that drinks lead-free, and you can sometimes detect a change in engine noise as it switches between the different combustion methods.

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X sedan

An image can be displayed on the infotainment screen to show what the engine is doing in real time; it is fascinating.

Like Mazda engines, Skyactiv-X thrives on speed, which contributes to the fun-to-drive factor of the car.

And there is something inherently satisfying about the engine's hard work while also reducing healthier fuel consumption than you would in a similarly beaten & # 39; regular & # 39; gasoline engine.

It is also notable for its low CO2 emissions, which should benefit, among other things, from tax-sensitive business users.

Some versions reach less than 100 g / km, but even the 102 g / km of the sportier trimmed test car is impressive against the competition.

The Skyactiv-X engine offers the free-running characteristics of a gasoline engine with the torque-sensitive responsiveness of a diesel engine, and also runs very & # 39; lean & # 39; resulting in low emissions and strong fuel consumption

So there is a lot of fun about the 3 saloon. It is a bit more practical than the hatchback version, as well as a better proposition for rear passengers.

Under that distinctive, fantastic-looking appearance, a depth of engineering and quality is rare among regular car manufacturers.

Skyactiv-X is a good example of this. Although it will not be understood by everyone, it is the kind of innovation that has made Mazda one of the most interesting and alternative-thinking manufacturers.

That is why Mazda remains so popular with demanding drivers and the 3 saloon is easy to recommend.

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X sedan

AT A GLANCE

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X Sport Lux sedan

Price: £ 25,575. As tested £ 26,365, with soul red crystal metallic paint £ 790

Engine and transmission: 2.0-liter four-cylinder & # 39; Spark Controlled Compression Ignition & # 39; Skyactiv-X, 6-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive; 178bhp, 165lb.ft

Performance: Top speed 134 mph, 0-62 mph in 8.2 seconds

Fuel consumption and CO2: 50.4 mpg (WLTP combined), 44.7 mpg (real world), 102 g / km

Car tax: £ 150 in the first year, then £ 145 per year

Benefit in kind: 24 percent

Euro Ncap safety assessment: Five stars (98/87/81/73), 2019

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X sedan

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X sedan

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X sedan

Mazda 3 Skyactiv-X sedan

. (tagsToTranslate) Mazda (t) Mazda 3 saloon (t) Skyactiv-X

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