Road test - Efficiency and style with the Mazda3

Julie Marshall drives the Mazda3 with the new, even more impressive, e-Skyactiv X engine

When Mazda first launched the mild hybrid two-litre Skyactiv-X petrol engine in 2019, an engine that uses compression ignition a bit like a diesel, it predicted that the combustion engine will still be powering the vast majority of our vehicles by 2030.

To this end, it concentrated its efforts on improving petrol and diesel technology.

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But, in just a couple of years things have moved on a pace and the government has decreed that new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans are set to be banned from sale in 2030. New hybrids will be given a stay of execution until 2035.

Mazda3 looks good from any angleMazda3 looks good from any angle
Mazda3 looks good from any angle

A new upgraded engine, e-Skyactiv X engine made its debut in the 2021 Mazda3 and 2021 Mazda CX-30 with increased performance and even more efficiency.

As with the previous powertrain the technology allows the engine to switch between conventional combustion and compression ignition by using sparks in two different ways. In addition, the 24v mild hybrid system harvests energy when the car is slowing down.

The two-litre 184bhp engine delivers an extra 5bhp, torque has increased by 12lb/ft to 177lb/ft and CO2 emissions are down by 5-11g/km depending on model, transmission and trim level.

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The e-Skyactiv X hatchback range features nine cars across SE-L Lux, Sport Lux, GT Sport and GT Sport Tech trims with the option of an automatic gearbox from Sport Lux onwards.

The stylish interior of the Mazda3The stylish interior of the Mazda3
The stylish interior of the Mazda3

Apart from the new engines the only other change to the range is that a sunroof has been added to the Sport Lux, GT Sport and GT Sport Tech.

We had the six-speed manual GT Sport on test. The engine note is throaty but not unpleasant and it drives like any conventional car.

Handling is good, whatever the road surface and it responds well to driver input with a crisp and smooth gear change

The benchmark sprint from 0-62mph takes 8.1seconds.

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A reversing camera coupled with parking sensors make for easy parking.

The interior is well thought out with quality materials throughout - the piano black window trim particularly smart.

The obligatory infotainment screen is high up in the driver's eyeline and controlling the many functions is intuitive thanks to the dial on the centre console and the switches on the steering wheel.

The head-up display is a particularly welcome feature and is linked to the rear view mirror and driver’s seat adjustment.

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There's plenty of room for the driver and front-seat passenger to get comfortable and the seats are very supportive with plenty of electronic adjustment.

Other goodies include radar cruise control, LED headlights and daytime running lights.

There is a suite of active safety aids including lane-keeping assist, blind spot monitoring and driver attention alert.

Apple CarPLay and Android Auto mirror smartphone functionality.

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The GT Sport has a 12-speaker Bose surround-system with a whole host of bells and whistles for crisp, clear sound.

It’s also a very smart and elegant-looking car, winning the 2020 World Car Design of the Year award, one of the special categories of the World Car Awards.

Mazda3 GT Sport

Price: £28,155 (£28,725 as tested)

Engine: Two-litre e-Skyactiv X petroll

Power: 184bhp

Torque: 177lb/ft

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Top speed: 134mph

0-62mph: 8.1 seconds

Economy: 53.3mpg

CO2 emissions: 121g/km

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