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Mazda3 becomes even more impressive in its fourth-generation

Mazda Media

The fourth-generation Mazda3 launches in South Africa this week and should offer followers of the Japanese brand an enticing new C-segment vehicle option.

Available in five-door hatchback and four-door sedan configurations, this latest Mazda3 features the company’s impressive Kodo design philosophy.

Both the hatchback and sedan are strikingly styled, classifying them as perhaps some of the best-looking Japanese family cars in recent memory. Particularly noteworthy are the large sweptback headlights and high metal-to-glass ratio within the design.

The local Mazda3 range, which goes on sale this week, is a dozen derivatives strong, with an equal split of six hatchbacks and a similar number of sedan offerings.

No turbo engines – or diesel

Powering the renewed Mazda3 product portfolio are two naturally-aspirated petrol engines, which is quite a different set of powertrain options compared to most rivals, who employ turbocharging to boost performance and efficiency.

Mazda’s engineers believe that an atmospheric engine will run truer to its claimed fuel consumption in real-world conditions, as opposed to a turbocharged unit. As such the available engines are a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol, good for 88kW and 153Nm, and a larger 2-litre version, producing 121kW and 213Nm.

Both these engine options drive the front wheels through six-speed transmissions, either manual or automatic, depending on customer preference and price sensitivity.

An interesting aspect of Mazda’s pricing strategy is that the hatchback Mazda3 is position at a very slight premium to the sedan. Although most South African passenger car buyers prefer a hatchback, the lockable safety of a boot, without any breakable windows, still appeals to some security-conscious buyers.

In a market where Japanese sedans have become a rarity and rarely sell well, Mazda’s shown ambition and focus in launching the four-door Mazda3 in harmony with its new hatchback sibling.

Pricing for the Mazda3 sedan starts at R357 000 for the 1.5 Active six-speed manual and peaks at R470 800 for the 2.0 Astina six-speed automatic.

The most accessible price point in regard to the hatchback range is a Mazda3 1.5 Active six-speed manual, at R359 900, with the range-topping variant being a 2.0 Astina six-speed auto, positioned at R474 400.

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