Mazda is well known for making emotional cars, which attract buyers by its alluring looks and the way these cars drive as well. The brand’s emotional ‘KODO – soul of motion’ design philosophy and the signature Soul Red hue stole the hearts of thousands, which a Mazda sales person told me once at road show that the Soul Red stocks usually spent the least amount time sitting in the stockyard.
But its not only the smallest Mazda2 enjoyed much success, the bigger Mazda3 C-Segment did just as well. Four years since its launch, the midlife refreshed Mazda3 GVC’s design hasn’t aged a bit with only subtle changes made to its facia. To put it simply, the Mazda3’s facia follows a similar design style to the smaller Mazda2, with the chrome garnish now integrated into the adaptive xenon headlamp cluster with integrated daytime running lamps, updated front signal repeaters and a slightly larger lower intake. Other than that, nothing much has changed.
The interior received the most updates; the centre console, steering wheel, instrument cluster and the heads up display received the most attention. The biggest change here is the centre console that now comes with a cubbyhole, the relocation of the rotary dial, and an electronic parking brake button replacing the old handbrake. These changes allow easier access to the rotary dials, instead having to reach out previously. Likewise, the driving mode switch has been relocated beside the gear selector on the drivers’ side, instead awkwardly placed on the lower centre of the gear selector boot.
The newly fitted three-spoke steering wheel appears and feels a lot less bulky housing more buttons for cruise control, audio and telephony. They feel good to the touch and provide tactile feedback. If you need to shift through the ratios, you can do so via the gear selector – pull down to go up a gear and push up to go down a gear, which is the default sequential gearshift sequence in most racecars. Likewise, you can also shift gears via the paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel.
The overall fit and finish in the Mazda3 GVC’s interior is high with small tolerances, and the combination of material, surfaces design elements are well paired neatly with visual continuity. The glove box compartment is wide and deep which allows you to store bulky items inside. The door bins are wide and deep, which you can easily store drink bottles and other loose items aside.
Again, like in all current Mazda cars, the Mazda3 GVC’s driver-centric cockpit provides necessary information like the engine rev counter with digital speedometer and current driving information on its flanks.
It comes with many multimedia functions that meet the needs of the modern individual, it comes equipped with MZD CONNECT with a 7” LCD display is an intuitive and easy to use system where quick learners can easily master its controls in just a short span of time. And what’s neat is that, it also comes equipped an updated version of the Mazda Active Display heads-up-display positioned on the dashboard within driver’s line of sight, which displays current travelling speed with blind spot indicators synced to the satellite navigation system in high resolution.
The front driver power adjustable seat provides easy and instant seat adjustability to suit the drivers’ preference. The front passenger however gets a manually adjustable seat. Both front seats provide good amount of comfort on long distances and are laterally supportive when the driving gets spirited.
The car fits four adults comfortably with the possibility of fitting a fifth for short distances. Don’t let its sloping rear fool you, as the rear occupants get ample amount of head and legroom. But what the Mazda3 lacks is a rear air vent, which most cars in this class are a standard feature.
What’s definitely standard is that the rear seats fold 60:40 and come with a retractable armrest with cupholders. Entry and exit at the rear is tall and wide and doesn’t obstruct occupants from getting in and out. Opening the rear trunk allows a wide access into its 419-litre boot space, which you can effectively where the boot lid does move right up and out of the way.
Likewise, the front hood raises up tall to reveal the naturally-aspirated SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engine which makes 162hp at 6,000 rpm and 210Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. The engine is mated to a conventional six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and sends power to its two front wheels.
Unlike most engines this size, the SKYACTIV-G engine boasts a high compression ratio of 14.0:1, similarly in the 2014 Ferrari 458 Speciale’s V8 engine. To reduce the risk of engine knock at high compression, the engine is designed to reduce residual exhaust gas by using a 4-2-1 exhaust system, implementing piston cavity and optimising fuel injection.
In addition, the combustion duration is shortened by intensifying airflow and increasing injection pressure of its multi-hole piezo direct fuel injectors, which in theory maximising the amount of fuel used.
The SKYACTIV-G can be described as torquey at the lower end of the rev range and linear towards the red line, while the ratios in the six-speed automatic gearbox is evenly spaced to complement the engine’s torque centric characteristics. This allows the 2.0-litre lump to consume as little fuel as it possibly can; as tested on the highway, the Mazda3 is able to achieve a frugal 4.1l/100km while driving conservatively within the legal speed limit. When the power is needed, it is able to provide adequate amounts of push, enough to overtake vehicles at highway speeds.
Besides its fuel-efficient engine, the midlife refreshed Mazda3 GVC now comes with the new G-Vectoring Control or GVC for short. How it works is actually rather simple; it is an electronic system that momentarily pauses ignition when the sensors determine steering angle and traveling speed. This brief interruption of power literally takes less time than the blink of an eye and unnoticeable, which dips the front end of the vehicle at causes the mass to move forward, which improves grip, stability and response. GVC can also help the driver to make far lesser steering adjustments when turning, too.
What’s even better is that the passengers’ ride comfort is improved dramatically, which the imperceptible change in velocity and the dip of the of the vehicle’s nose signals passengers’ brains that a change of direction is imminent, which prepares their neck muscles and equilibrium for the turn.
That said, the Mazda3 GVC is one step above the previous model; with the help of the fine adjustments in engine output when turning into corners, the car drives more sure footedly through fast and tight bends, which gives the driver a lot of confidence and help them to drive a lot more smoother. Understeer isn’t much of an issue, too. As mentioned, the driver is able to hold the steering straight without making plenty of adjustments when driving on uneven and undulating road surfaces. Cutting to the chase, the Mazda 3 GVC is enjoyable to drive and more comfortable occupants.
The Mazda3 GVC not only looks good, but also handles way better than most of its rivals; better yet it is able to keep the occupants from feeling carsick. The interior is roomy and well put together with plenty of useful storage spaces. The engine is able to provide frugal fuel consumption and it is able to provide a good amount of performance for the daily commute and the weekend drive. If you do opt for one, the Mazda3 GVC comes with 5 Years Manufacturer Warranty or 100,000KM whichever comes first and 3 Years Free Maintenance or 60,000KM whichever comes first.
+ Dynamic design
+ Improved ergonomics
+ Frugal fuel consumption
+ Fun to drive
+ Practical for daily use
Mazda3 GVC (CKD)
Price Msia: RM126,957.07 (OTR W/ Insurance)
Engine: 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder
Top Speed: 200km/h (Tested)
Fuel consumption: 4.1 litres/100km (Tested)