Meet the MAZDA3 2.0L Astina Auto

I reviewed the Mazda3 when it just launched in South African and I sung its praises, not only because it is probably the best-looking car in its segment, but because I find Mazda to be an underrated brand that offers such excellent products. You would just need to read any of my reviews on the Mazda CX-3 or CX-5 and you would see what I mean. It might also be the nostalgia I feel about the very first car I ever reviewed, which happened to be the Mazda2 way back in 2008.

But back to the Mazda3, my oh my it is one good looking car. I think it is the best looking car in its segment. Especially when you consider the Volkswagen Golf which I think we all know very well. Even the new Gold 8 which is due here next year might not be as modern and as fresh-looking as this Mazda3. The only car that might have a chance is the new Audi A3 which is also due here next here, we will just have to wait and see.

This past week I had the pleasure of driving the top of the range 2.0 Astina. This trim level means it boasts leather seats, integrated navigation (which is let down by the fact that it can only be operated while the car is stationary, not something you want in South Africa, or as a passenger), rear parking sensors with reverse camera, rear air vents, a sunroof, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Monitoring, adaptive headlamps, and i-Stop (which I also which manufacturers would do away with). This is over and above all the standard features on the rest of the Mazda3 line up. It is an uncluttered and modern interior, Mazda has done away with most buttons and so you are left with the ‘less is more’ look. It is also rather spacious inside. The boot of course adds to the practicality and this is something customers will want from a sedan.

I wish I could say the Mazda is faultless, but unfortunately the engines let it down. You only have the choice between two naturally aspirated engines, those being the 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre. The Astina sports the 2.0-litre and is only available mated to the automatic transmission. As much as the performance numbers are nothing to snuff at, being 121 kW and 213 Nm, I couldn’t help but wish we were offered the turbocharged model here in South Africa. This 2.0-litre just doesn’t feel as refined as some of its rivals’ engines. It is no slouch, but a turbo would just make all the difference. I managed a fuel consumption of around 8L/100 km, which I could also like to see come down.

Other than the engine, the Mazda3 is a product that is excellent in every way. The standard spec alone should have you reaching for the number of your nearest dealer. None of its rivals can match it!

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