50 shades of tenderness. Test Drive Mazda3August 27, 2019
New chassis and old engines, artsy design and frank asceticism in the rear. The new Mazda3 is woven from controversy, but that’s why you can love it
Going to the Novak training ground near Belgrade for a test of the new three-wheeler, we knew in advance that we would not be able to drive four-wheel drive cars with the latest Skyactiv-X engine with a compression ratio increased to 15:1.
Frowning physiognomy, narrow slots of headlights and a window of a false radiator grill sliding down – this is interesting, but not a breakthrough. Really does not leave anyone indifferent: the delicate plastic of the sidewalls complete with a rudely licked back, which for some reason looks damn attractive. Do not even bother with some hatchback disharmony when viewed from the front side.
Behind the new Mazda3 hatchback also looks very muscular due to the fact that a good half of the bumper is decorated in black. And just such an option seems fundamentally new. A calmer sedan that looks like a stepping stone to evolution, the hatchback does not match. Here, both chrome and standard wheels seem quite appropriate, but I want to drive, whatever one may say, on a five-door.
In fact, from the point of view of the driver, there should not be a difference. Unlike the previous generation model, in which the rear suspension was multi-link, the fourth-generation Mazda3 in any body is equipped with a conventional beam. This scheme is simpler and cheaper, but with proper configuration should provide a completely acceptable level of comfort. Another thing is that to give the car a driver-like character, engineers need to make a lot of effort.
From the very first lap along the track it becomes clear: indeed a lot of efforts have been spent. Minimal heeling in turns, precise calibrated reactions to steering wheel turn, transparent feedback on the steering wheel – the traditional trump cards of the previous three generations, so appreciated by fans of this model, have migrated to the new car.
“We turn off the stabilization system and do not touch the brake pedal at all. Any speed, as far as courage is enough, ”the Serbian instructor suddenly asks not to take the turn exactly, but, on the contrary, to swing the car so much as to lose control over it.
Acceleration to the cones, a jerk of the steering wheel to the left, and Mazda immediately jumps into the turn so easily and naturally, as if we are talking about a dive at a speed of 10 km / h into the vacated parking slot at the door of the supermarket. The second attempt at higher speed – the result is the same, but adjusted for easy movement of the stern, which was not difficult to correct.
There is a feeling that in the front-wheel drive competition for the ability to take revenge with the tail, the Mazda3 may act as a leader, but this is definitely not a story about the loss of control over the car. To fly off the trajectory, you need to be completely wooden – frankly overdo it with speed in a turn or completely forget about the correction of a skid.
The secret of this car behavior lies both in the perfectly tuned chassis and in the updated G-Vectoring Control Plus system, which now not only monitors traction in turns, but also slows down the front outer wheel at the exit of the turn, creating an additional stabilizing force.
In civilian regimes you don’t feel any revelations – an ordinary average golf car. The 150-horsepower two-liter engine cheerfully accelerates the car in the city and does not make you feel impaired on country roads. True, when overtaking, you expect a little more efficient work of the six-speed automatic, which is a little annoying with thoughtfulness when switching to a lower gear.
The weaker version of the car with a 120-horsepower 1.5-liter engine is expectedly less dynamic, but initially you do not expect much from this engine. In order not to get out of the flow, the accelerator pedal here has to lean much more strongly, and on prolonged climbs the transmission periodically starts to weird, frantically changing gears in an attempt to find the optimal operating mode. Option for the city, and no more.
If at this stage the buyer thinks that the Mazda3 is not exactly a car for the driver, the sales managers will offer him to carefully look around again in the cabin. A screen with a diagonal of almost nine inches is deployed to the driver, the automatic transmission selector and the “washer” of the media system control are shifted to it, before the eyes there is a clear and distinct dashboard, there is a convenient projection display. The front panel, maybe, does not look too intricate, but it is well finished, and each button and control delight you with pleasant tactile sensations.
But passengers are not so rosy. The margin of free space in the legs and over the head is pretty decent, but because of the massive rear pillar and small windows in the rear doors with a high window sill on the second row of seats, you feel like in a capsule of a spacecraft descent. There is no microclimate unit of its own, nor conventional ventilation vents, nor a separate USB connector.
Let it be rustic, but comfortable, and this is the second fact that surprises in this car. The cabin is not classy quiet, and distant engine sounds are heard only with intense acceleration. Aerodynamic noise when driving along the highway at a very decent speed is not in sight.
Struggling for silence, Japanese engineers not only engaged in laying multilayer noise insulation, but also uprooted the noise sources themselves. For example, they hid the leashes and wiper blades under the hood frame, installed a special seal in the upper part of the tailgate, and placed the speakers of the audio system in the doors on special catwalks. And the potentially luminous elements of the body are covered with a special compound that dampens vibrations.
All this not only looks good on paper, but also turns out to be quite pleasant in sensations. the market will perceive normally. But so much is asked for the basic 120-horsepower model with a six-speed manual transmission, conventional air conditioning and truncated functionality of the media system.
The Japanese really position the Mazda 3 as an alternative to the compact premium segment, but for about the same money they immediately offer a larger Mazda6. Which, however, no longer produces this wow effect.
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