Long-term test: Mazda3 2,0 Astina (Update 1)
Four months into its evaluation, the Mazda3 has had no hiccups, apart from a circular plug that popped out of the inside of the hatchback. The plug, which positions the hook that holds up the right suspender of the parcel shelf, took some effort to put back in place, but with some pushing and twisting it gripped in its socket.
Shortly thereafter the Astina, its driver and two passengers set course for a long-weekend in Strandfontein, a 750-km round trip that required the spacious luggage bay and a section of the rear foot well to be packed with baggage and supplies. The trip to the location was in fair weather and allowed the sunroof to let in the gentle winter sun while the driver found the ease of viewing the head-up display was largely dependent on fine-tuning the angle of the view screen through the multimedia commander knob; the touchscreen also stops working when the vehicle’s in motion – it’s a necessary safety feature, but a frustration for inquisitive front passengers, some of whom bemoan a lack of height adjustment on their seat.
Otherwise the Mazda offered excellent occupant comfort and delivered a relaxing drive, even if the 2,0-litre engine and six-speed automatic transmission combo feels a bit old school in an era of forced-induction motors with dual-clutch boxes. When rain set in during the return to the Mother City, the Mazda3’s good roadholding, let alone automatic lights and wipers, were greatly appreciated...
After 4 months
Current mileage: 5 823 km
Average fuel consumption: 8,66 L/100 km
Long-term test: Mazda3 2,0 Astina (Update 2)
I’ve had the pleasure of driving the Mazda3 for a few months now and, although
I would not classify it as the perfect family vehicle, it has met the needs of my family as a daily runabout.
Weekend trips or longer vacations with luggage, however, have proven a challenge because the boot is relatively small, measuring just 256 dm3. That said, I’ve decided to counter this lack of packing space by adding Thule roof racks and a rooftop loading box, and we’ll try these on an upcoming vacation to the Eastern Cape. I’m hopeful the added drag won’t have too much of a negative effect on consumption, which is currently at 8,5 L/100 km.
The Mazda3’s build quality is very good and I’ve been impressed with the number of standard features that include a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite-navigation, sporty three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, electronic seat adjustment, a Bose sound system and a useful rearwards monitoring system which is activated at 60 km/h. It warns the driver with a flashing light on their side mirror of an approaching vehicle in the blind spot.
Overall, the vehicle is engaging to drive, but the 2,0-litre engine and six-speed automatic transmission combination feels a touch outdated. That said, if you’re not in a massive hurry, changes are smooth and the engine punchy enough.
After 8 months
Current mileage: 7 851 km
Average fuel consumption: 8,49 L/100 km
We like: sunroof, good looks, sonorous Bose sound system
We don’t like: mushy brake pedal, easy–to- scuff inner door padding
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
spacious luggage bay, standard-issue sunroof
We don't like
lack of height adjustment on front passenger seat