Mazda3 1.6 TS Diesel

Mazda3, front
Mazda3, front, action
Mazda3, side
Mazda3, rear
Mazda3, interior

THE automotive industry appears to be rushing 'lemming like' down the hybrid road, as manufacturers compete for the environmental crown.

But Mazda is made of sterner stuff and refuses to be drawn into this mad dash.

Instead is has briefed its design engineers to pursue its exclusive SKYACTIV technology, in which it promises to produce a 'green' range of models within the next two years that will boast lower CO2 emissions, and even lower fuel returns, without the need for alternative split/drive systems.

"Our sixth generation range of 'fun to drive' vehicles will be exciting, lighter, stronger and more efficient in all build stages than anything on sale today," said a Mazda spokesman.

"The new petrol engines we have designed for our SKYACTIV programme will for example, be more environmentally friendly than any of today's current diesel units, and the new diesels we have on offer under this umbrella will be improved by 30 per cent, making them world leaders in performance."

This approach is refreshing. It shows that with careful attention to detail and by building new models from the tyres upwards (as do Formula One teams), great steps in proficiency can be achieved without the need for hybridisation.

But before this bold step is taken, Mazda can point to a current range that is already a genuine contender for the top ten efficiency title.

Take the latest medium sized, five door, Mazda3 hatchback for example.

There are two diesel and three petrol versions in the line up, with all of them enjoying a dynamic body style which is easy on the eye and hints at a sporty pedigree.

I was initially drawn to the new 116mph, 1.6 diesel TS, by its bargain price of £18,225, its CO2 rating of 117g/km and its insurance group of 16.

But its real appeal for the race in the best sellers list is its fuel return of 64.2mpg on the combined cycle.

I managed to average 53.4mpg, despite dual carriageway traffic, lots of braking, and tight country lanes.

The handling is spot on, and its extensive specification is enhanced by the use of quality materials, engineered to an exact degree, the result of which is a modern cabin which most owners should find tasteful.

Overall the Mazda3 is a quality range with almost nothing wrong about it.

It has a full complement of safety and security systems on board, even the entry level version boasts remote central locking, electric front windows, and MP3 compatible audio system as standard fittings.

It's a car that appears to tick all the boxes and is enjoyable to drive.

Yet that is not the end of the story. 

FAST FACTS

Mazda3 1.6 TS Diesel

Price: £18,225

Mechanical: 115ps, 1,560cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual

Max Speed: 116mph

0-62mph: 11 seconds

Combined MPG: 64.2

Insurance Group: 16

C02 emissions: 117g/km

Bik rating: 15%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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