The 3’s real strength, however, lies in its agility. Sitting 15mm closer to the ground and armed with a more rigid body than its predecessor, the newcomer feels nimbler and better balanced. Turn-in is also sharper, and because the steering’s gear ratio has been lowered, the driver’s effort is minimised. Indeed, the 3 was in its element tackling the twisty roads of the Australian Automotive Research Centre, where it displayed greater poise than the outgoing model.
Catering to the passengers, on the ?other hand, is the more comfortable cabin, which is better insulated against NVH (noise, vibration, harshness). According to Mazda, in addition to improving the vehicle’s aerodynamics, their engineers also selected trim materials and seat cushions with enhanced sound- and vibration-absorbing properties.
The coolest interior feature is the new MZD Connect infotainment system. Like BMW’s iDrive, accessing the sat-nav, Bluetooth telephony and hi-fi functions is now done using a multi-directional rotary knob found behind the gearshift lever. There are fewer sub-menus than expected, so the car’s infotainment is easy to “Connect”, and the 7-inch display also boasts vibrant colours. According to Mazda, their engineers even utilised a specific math formula to calculate the optimal font size, and spaces between numbers and letters, for better legibility.
To minimise driver distraction, Mazda has also introduced an Active Driving Display. This head-up display, a first for the brand, helps keep the driver’s eyes focused on the road ahead by showing relevant information in his line of sight, such as vehicle speed and turn-by-turn directions.
Before the Mazda 3 was launched here, we thought that the more expensive 2-litre variant wouldn’t arrive in Singapore. Fortunately, the local agent brought in both 1.5-litre and 2-litre models – with the latter sure to attract the attention of enthusiasts.
2013 Mazda 3 Hatchback 2.0 (A)
ENGINE 1998cc, 16-valves, inline-4
MAX POWER 153bhp at 6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 200Nm at 4000rpm
GEARBOX 6-speed manual
0-100KM/H 8.3 seconds
TOP SPEED 213km/h
FUEL CONSUMPTION 17.5km/L
CO2 EMISSION 124g/km