Mazda3 keeps doing what it does best
Auto Bakkie Race Legend Tests are selected from our extensive road test archive.
This road test was first published in Cars in Action October 2009.
The last Mazda3 had a certain road presence about it when it hit the road in 2004. It was neatly styled, looked good from almost all angles and had a certain poise about it on the road. It was never going to break any records in the speed department, but a solid all-rounder is never a bad substitution.
So with this, the new version of the Mazda3, they’ve gone for much the same principle this time around as well; a car that looks fairly similar to the old one, with a few small modifications here and there including the integration of the Mazda ‘big smile’ front grille.
Our test car was powered by the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated motor that was introduced in the latest Mazda6. It only puts out 77kW at 6000rpm but has a pleasing torque output of 144Nm at 4000rpm. From this it’s easy to decipher that his car is more of a fifth gear cruiser than a sporty racing accelerator.
It’s interesting to note though that Mazda has decreased the number of variants in the 3 range, down from 14 in the previous model to just nine in this incarnation. Mazda is obviously adapting to the recession by focusing on its core market.
Back to this car — it feels very similar to the Mazda6 that we tested earlier in the year — smooth and well refined. In true Mazda fashion new 3 is comfortable inside, with the seats giving good support and the dashboard is crisp and easy to use.
I’ve always liked the lighting on the Mazda dials, the blue neon mixes well with the orange digital display.
Now they’ve taken it a step further with the addition of ‘’welcome lighting’, a feature on the car whereby the cabin lights up in the same blue neon when the door is opened – stylish, especially in the dark.
Even at this entry spec, 3 delivers a cool array of gadgets and there are more driver aids, including multi function steering wheel, keyless entry and start, climate control and auto headlamps as the range progresses, but this one does pretty well anyway.
Mazda is becoming increasingly proficient and is making good all-round cars, they may not excite all that much or leave you hungry for more but they can’t be faulted in too many areas — it’s a solid, easy driving car in every sense of the word. - Ashley Oldfield.
LEGEND TEST: 2009 Mazda3 1.6 Active
Engine: 77kW 145Nm 1598cc petrol I4
Drive: 5-speed manual FWD
0-60km/h 5.22 sec
0-100km/h: 11.89 sec
0-160km/h 30.78 sec
400m: 17.9 sec @ 127km/h
80-120km/h: 8.78 sec
120-160km/h 15.2 sec
Vmax: 181 km/h
NEW PRICE 2010: R208K
NEW PRICE TODAY: R357K (1.5 Active)
RATED THEN: 78%
RATED NOW: 78%