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X MARKS THE SPOT (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
The Mazda3 makes most sense in Skyactiv-X petrol form. Jonathan Crouch explains why.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 74
Mazda's unconventional approach to automotive design has born real fruit when it comes to the engineering of this Mazda3 Skyactiv-X model. What we're served up here is a family hatch-style model that offers fairly potent 180PS power, yet can deliver the kinds of efficiency returns you'd expect from a diesel in this class. As a bonus, you also get the nicest handling and arguably the best cabin in the segment. What's not to like?
Backgroundword count: 183
The MK4 Mazda3 claims to be a family hatch that's as good to drive as a Ford Focus, as good inside as a Volkswagen Golf and as good to look at as an Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The fact that its usual 2.0-litre 'Skyactive-G' petrol engine ignores turbocharging is another break with current convention, though Mazda has followed the current trend towards part-electrified mild hybrid technology for it. And created a more powerful supercharged 'Skyactive-X' version of this unit that uses 'Spark Controlled Compression Ignition' to deliver petrol response allied to diesel economy. That's what we're going to look at here. All of this engineering's bolted to a brand new very stiff platform. And, the trend with previous Mazdas for slinky styling to clothe rather dull cabin design has been broken here with what might just be the nicest interior in the segment. Add in standard equipment features you'd have to pay extra for on rivals and plenty of camera-driven safety kit and you've a promising-sounding package offered either in this hatch form or as a smartly styled saloon. Time to check it out.
Driving Experienceword count: 245
When we first tried this fourth generation Mazda3, we loved the way it handled and its lovely steering and gear change. But to be frank, we thought the standard Skyactiv-G petrol and Skyactiv-D diesel engines were a bit of a weak link in the car's armoury. But don't despair if you love everything else about this car because the third of the three engine options - the Skyactiv-X - makes up for everything. It's a development of the Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre petrol unit but is very different, developing 181PS and using what the brand calls 'Spark Controlled Compressed Ignition' or 'SPCCI', a patented lean burn process that delivers exceptional efficiency. Interestingly, it incorporates a supercharger, not for extra performance (though torque is increased by up to 30% over the Skyactiv-G unit) but instead to ensure that there's enough air in the engine for the compression ignition to work properly. Rest to 62mph takes 8.2s en route to 134mph. And the premium to get a Mazda3 with the Skyactiv-X engine isn't a lot different to the extra you'd pay to get the feebler, less efficient Skyactiv-D diesel unit, which begs the question of why you'd ever want to choose the black pump-fuelled version of this car. We think very few customers will. Another reason for choosing the Skyactiv-X powerplant is that it's the only engine offered in this car that can be mated with the brand's i-Activ AWD all-wheel-drive system, an option with this hatch body style.
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Category: Compact Family Cars
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