Mazda3: Carmaker pulls out all the stops for 100th anniversary edition

Trish Whelan

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Trish Whelan

Century in the making

Pure class: The 100th Anniversary Special Edition Mazda3 starts at €37,220

IN MY opinion, the Mazda3 hatchback is the best-looking mid-sized family car on the Irish market. On top of that you get a huge amount of spec and the brand’s famed engineering expertise.

This car turns heads with its stunning good looks - long bonnet, flowing lines and sculpted curves. It is also quite low slung in its styling with a sloping roof.

My latest Mazda test car was even more special. Marking a century of making automobiles, this was the 100th Anniversary Edition of the model only available in a Snowflake White exterior which suits the car with its dark privacy glass, black rear spoiler and gloss black 18-inch alloys, and those special 100th Anniversary Edition badges.

From the side you see the slope of the roof, while at the rear you have a black spoiler and the four gorgeous small lights that are part of the car’s tail lights, as well as two exhaust pipes.

The interior is simply stunning - premium class for a mass produced car with its elegant look; the rich red Burgundy leather upholstery and matching colour mats, complemented with a deep creamy colour across the dash.

While there’s ample space up front, very tall people may find it a tad un-comfy for long journeys if seated behind. Black headlining makes the interior quite dark.

I was able to get a superb driving position behind the wheel; steering is quite direct and gives great feedback to the driver. You feel very confident behind the wheel, as the car feels so secure on the road.

The dash is quite simplistic with everything close to hand including temperature controls.

Mazda3 grades are GSL, GT, and GT Sport. However, this top-of-the-range special edition car gets all the features of these and more, everything that you could possibly want in a car.

The 8.8-inc colour centre console display on the top of the central console is controlled by a multimedia commander rotary knob which means it is not a touchscreen; there’s also a 7-inch TFT Digital Dashboard; other standard items include Apple Car Play & Android Auto, a full complement of air bags, Hill hold assist, Sat Nav, a Head Up Display on the windscreen, Traffic sign recognition, Smart City Brake Support (front) with pedestrian recognition, an electronic handbrake and a rear digital camera almost HD crystal clear and with a 360 deg bird’s eye view of all around the car.

The boot is quite deep to allow you fit tall items and comes with a rubber mat. But there’s no spare.

However, another unexpected feature proved a great aid when parking. As I pulled in to a parking spot in a shopping centre car park, a picture of how close I was to the nose of the car parked in front of me showed up on the screen.

This was the front camera clicking in to show the space left between both cars.

The 100th Anniversary Edition Mazda3 is powered by an updated 2.0 4-cylinder 186hp Skyactiv-X Mild Hybrid petrol engine mated with a precise, sporty, short throw, six-speed manual transmission which proved a real joy to use giving you the feel of a really sporty drive when revved. That’s when the excitement comes in. The car takes just 8.1 secs for the 0-100km/h spring; torque is 240Nm @ 4,000rpm.

The Mild Hybrid system comes as standard across the Mazda3 range. There’s also an automatic option.

This powerful petrol engine sips fuel like a diesel thanks to the brand’s Spark Controlled Compression Ignition. It makes more power yet produces fewer emissions and uses less fuel than a regular petrol engine. The engine is also efficient with a claimed 5.3 L/100kms; annual road tax is €190 as C02 emissions are 120g/km (WLTP rating).

The special technology uses a small Integrated Starter Generator to capture energy that is normally wasted during braking and stores it to power the car’s electrical systems thus reducing the load on the engine - supplying a performance boost when starting up and when you pull away saving fuel in the process. It can also power the car’s electrical systems.

The engine switches off when you slow right down low to stop which explains why, when pulling into a filling station, I was asked if I was driving an electric car, it was so quiet.

The Mazda3 comes with a maximum 5-star safety rating from EuroNCAP scoring 98 marks for adult occupant rating, 87 for child occupant rating and 73 for safety assist rating.

The entry level Mazda3 GS starts at €28,520; my 100th Anniversary Special Edition was more pricey at €37,220.

If you are in the market for a car in this category, this car is certainly worth taking for a test drive.