Mazda 3 2.0 120 SE Nav
Week ending June 17
Miles this week 360
Last week I had to attend a launch up in Cheshire and my own long-term Fiesta ST was winging its way down to Le Mans with Vicky Parrott, so I took the opportunity to extent my acquaintance with our Mazda 3.
It’s fair to say I’ve been fairly lukewarm about the car in my brief meetings with it so far, so a longer trip would hopefully help me to discover more things about it I like.
The cabin is reasonable, with decent space and simple controls. It all feels well stuck together, and it was easy enough to pair my phone with the car.
Things deteriorated slightly once we started to move because to my mind there’s simply too much road and wind noise. The ride’s pretty firm as well, and the naturally aspirated engine feels pretty gutless unless you rev it hard, although I realise this is probably a downside of everyone (myself included) getting used to the extra pulling power provided by turbocharged engines.
However, the Mazda redeemed itself when I eventually got home after a long journey spend on A-roads, motorways and, unfortunately, in traffic jams. That’s because it had averaged a faintly staggering 39.9mpg. It was at least 10mpg more than I’d been expecting, and was much more than economy-minded colleague Barnaby ‘lightfoot’ Jones got from his 1.0-litre turbocharged Ford Focus a couple of years ago.
That’s almost worth putting up with the din for.
By Euan Doig
Week ending June 2
Miles this week 390
Such is the proliferation of photos of bicycles in cars among What Car? staffers, I thought twice before submitting the picture above. However, I had a need to transport two elderly (read ‘collectible’) racing bikes from London to Brighton for a cycling event and the experience brought with it a very specific set of requirements.
First, like most elderly passengers, I couldn’t put them on the outside of the car. This would have amounted to tears after so much time and effort in preparation of the aged metal with polish and pots of elbow grease. No, instead they had to sit inside the cabin, along with the second requirement – three human companions, including driver.
The Mazda’s split-fold rear seat is, it turns out, capable of swallowing two large frames with (detached) wheels – plus a little protective packaging – and leave a small seat for the passenger who drew the short straw. Tipping the seats was easy enough and they fold usefully flat, but to remove the cardboard-like parcel shelf is to feel as though you are threatening its very existence – especially the hinge-clips that locate the shelf inside the car.
As you’d expect, there’s a little more road noise with a seat folded, but the 3 is not the quietest of environments anyway – the engine made itself heard most of the way down the M23 in a way that really shouldn’t befit a hatchback in 2014. I had few complaints in terms of performance, though.
One in-Brighton bonus was the gearchange indicator on the dashboard, subtly making its recommendation for economically optimal shifting. I was surprised by how early it asks you to select a new cog, but the cynic in me wonders whether that’s as much about keeping the engine quiet as saving fuel. Then again, I suppose if economy was really my major concern I wouldn’t choose a car with a distinctly old-fashioned, non-turbo 2.0-litre engine.
By Paul Regan