Typical winter day. Rain and cold are our background in this January Monday but I’m happy to drive a Mazda 3. In this period I appreciate optionals like heated seats and automatic air condition. In fact, in this Mazda 3 you can find really many automated things, the wipers are activated on their own together with lights, for example, and even the gearbox is an auto one.
As I left the morning traffic of Florence in direction of the Villa dei Cento Camini in Artimino, I can only be happy to drive this Mazda 3 with the automatic transmission. Gearshifts are smooth and the stress decreases. I have already tried the smallest one of the house of Hiroshima, so it seems fair to start this test drive by telling you about what are the differences with this Mazda 3. Obviously the size of the car, the interiors and the trunk grow. The lines of the car respect, as is traditional, the KODO design philosophy of Mazda, making it very appealing thanks also to the Soul Red painting. The Mazda 3 is a car that does not go unnoticed in city traffic.
Getting onboard, I met all Mazda driving aids of which we had already discussed, the fantastic Mazda MZD Connect, this time accompanied by an excellent BOSE sound system and rear view camera, and the white leather seats, heated in this case. Another thing that does not change is the excellent 1.5 SKYACTIV-D which also this Mazda 3 is equipped and had already impressed me in the previous test drive. Abandoned the city traffic it is time to have some fun with some hairpins among the Florentine hills. Gear lever to M, fingers ready to use the paddle at the wheel and the fun begins!
Obviously do not expect big performances from this 1.5 but instead to surprise me is the automatic transmission, which is fast in gear change and non-invasive while driving in manual. Another big plus of this Mazda 3 is definitely the chassis, which combined with a great suspension system gives you an high level of road holding, giving a strong security feeling, maybe just a little filtered from the steering wheel with electric power steering not so communicative. The 1.5 SKYACTIV-D that delivers 105 hp anyway fulfills his duty even going uphill.
As mentioned, is the second time I have the opportunity to try this Mazda engine and, once again, with a car that weighs almost 300kg more, does not disappoint in terms of fuel consumption with around 20 km/l. But how it manages to keep fuel consumption and emissions so low? We have to thank the SKYACTIV technology. The low compression ratio of this engine (14.0:1 for the numbers lovers) allows a combustion of the fuel at lower temperature and pressure and a greater energy efficiency and the possibility of achieving a lighter structure of the carter (having to resist at lower pressures within the cylinder).
The combustion at lower pressures also decreases the creation of harmful gases such as NOx. If the solution to ensure low emissions and low fuel consumption was only lowering the engine compression ratio, why only Mazda did it? The great problem of the low compression ratio is the cold start. The air for the combustion pressure increases with the temperature. This means that with the cold engine you will have a lower pressure on the cylinder causing the misfire of the fuel/air mixture. Mazda engineers have solved this problem by reusing part of the flue gas in order to heat the incoming air in the cylinder and using also special injectors. The icing on the cake is the presence of two turbines, a smaller one, and larger one that are used depending on the performance required.
The SKYACTIV philosophy applies not only to the engine but also to the chassis, trim and transmission contributing to a high level driving feeling. Technology and quality on board Mazda cars come together in a mix of elegance and charm. It is no coincidence that I decided to bring this Mazda 3 at the Villa dei Cento Camini at Artimino. The beauty of its lines and the Soul Red color blend with one of the most beautiful villas of the Florentine hills. Also called Villa La Ferdinanda, it was a summer residence of the Medici family of Florence and now hosts conferences, anniversaries and special events.
The rain does not subside during our shots but the cutlery water drops on the Mazda 3 body embellish the line and the color of the car. We leave the Villa and, in the distance that separate me from Florence, I have the opportunity to test the Mazda Radar Cruise Control. This cruise control, thanks to the radar on the front of the Mazda 3, is able to meet the set distance from the car in front of you (even shifting gears), following the pace. A convenient feature that, once accustomed to, it’s really hard to put down.
The radar also prevents the accidents from the car in front of you automatically applying the brakes in case of driver distraction. These features, coupled to the line change assist and blind spots assist, allow to help the driver in every situation. In conclusion my judgment of Mazda 3 is very positive, in fact it takes all the merits of her younger sister, in a more spacious and comfortable solution by adding facilities to raise the driving experience. The price of the Mazda 3 under test is € 24,850 to which we must add € 750 for the Red Soul color, € 1,900 for the six-speed automatic transmission and 2,600 € for the i-Activsense Technology + Leather Pack White package that includes all driving aids such as the adaptive cruise control and perforated white leather heated seats with electronic adjustment. Strongly suggested are the driving aids i-Activsense Technology and the Red Soul color that does not just embellish the car. Ends up this beautiful (not in the weather) day with Mazda 3. I press the START / STOP button to turn off the car, tired, wet but smiling!
Text: Edoardo Mascalchi
Photos: Edoardo Mascalchi