Long-term test: Mazda3 2,0 Astina (Introduction)
It’s back. Well, not the exact same car, but a 2,0 Astina (which denotes the flagship model, only available with an automatic transmission) has returned to the CAR test
fleet, and this time for a 20 000 km evaluation. The Mazda3 hatch first made a positive impression in a comparative road test versus the Volkswagen Golf 1,4 TSI Comfortline in the December 2014 issue; the Astina standard specification level is among the best in the compact hatchback segment. The combination of the SkyActiv 2,0-litre four cylinder engine and a six-speed transmission was one of the Mazda’s less lauded aspects when we first tested it; the powerplant is peaky relative to those of its turbocharged rivals, which deliver maximum torque at lower revs. Therefore, we’d crossed our fingers and hoped Mazda would supply a manual model in Individual spec, which would better suit the 3’s “sporty driver’s car” positioning. Whatever disappointment I may have felt about the Astina’s arrival evaporated as early as the first time we got stuck in a rush-hour traffic jam, when I could rest my left foot, use the multifunction steering wheel to calmly flick through the music library (streaming sweetly from my smartphone), while the sat-nav’s processor figured out how to best direct us to the venue of an out-of-town appointment.
Taking time to become acclimatised with the functionality of the Commander multimedia interface in the centre console is well advised. Even though the seven-inch display offers touch technology, the monitor is located atop the dashboard – as opposed to being integrated with the facia – and requires a bit of a reach to operate. When I first used the system, I battled to figure out how to disable the voice guidance. The visual directions on the full-colour navigation map and text instructions on the head-up display are so detailed that the verbal nav accompaniment did nothing but interfere with my music appreciation!
In terms of build quality, the Astina creates a favourable impression right away. The black leather upholstery is neatly finished with racy red stitching and the driving position, aided by electrical adjustment, is near ideal for my 1,88-metre frame,
and the black-leather upholstery is neatly finished with racy red stitching. _ ere is a pleasing weight to the way the switchgear feels (the climate control dials, in particular, are a highlight) and the sporty design of the instruments complement the handsome exterior design well. I think the Mazda3 deserves a weekend away so that it may go for a canter in the country.
Current mileage: 1 032 km
Average fuel consumption: 9,31 L/100 km
We like: engaging driving experience, sonorous Bose sound system
We don’t like: mushy brake pedal, easy-to-scuff inner-door padding