The Mazda3 is the yardstick when it comes to small cars and the updated 2017 model is better again.
Launched yesterday in Brisbane, there’s not a lot to report in terms of cosmetic or engine changes, but there is one big change that takes what was a very pleasing driving machine, and makes it even better.
For the 2017 Mazda3 line-up, Mazda has added what it calls ‘G-Vectoring’.
What’s that? Well, essentially its a control system that helps ensure torque is going to the wheels that have grip, and not those that don’t.
I simply could not believe how much more stable and controlled the new 2017 model felt.
Weaving through a slalom of witches hats, at exactly the same speed and on exactly the same tyres, the new Mazda3 felt planted and much more reassured.
This resulted in a lot less body-roll, a whole heap less tyre squeal and less feeling of being thrown around inside the cabin.
A similar test on a dry and twisty section of road at the Mt. Cotton Driver Training Centre, again with both superseded and updated models, again showed the quite dramatic improvement.
Mazda, you’ve done a really great job with this technology.
The updated 2017 Mazda3 also welcomes a revised rear suspension set-up and re-tuned dampers all-round. The end result, on road and track…well it was already the best ride in its class and now its even better.
What else has changed? Well the engines are the same - 114kW/200Nm 2.0 litre and 138kW/250Nm 2.5 litre.
Transmissions are also the same with the auto still costing you $2,000 more across all five model grades.
There’s a couple of styling changes, primarily a new-look grille and slightly reworked front spoiler, while the Mazda3 also welcomes LED headlights (GT and Astina grades).
Mazda has also added a couple of new colours to the palette, including the attractive ‘Machine Grey’.
Inside the cabin, it’s out with the old and in with the new and by this I mean a CD player hasn’t made it into the new one.
In its place Mazda has shifted the USB and audio inputs out of the centre console and into a more prominent place.
There’s also a lovely new steering wheel and the gauges have been reworked a bit as well.
Water bottles are now more easily accommodated in the larger front door pockets.
As is the norm with Mazda, all the different cars I drove today exhibited excellent fit and finish and had a quality feel throughout.
Again, I really like the Mazda MZD Connect interface and the nicely positioned centre control wheel and buttons.
There’s also some new safety tech in the upper-spec Mazda3 models, including traffic sign recognition, Lane Keep Assist and Smart City Brake function.
And Mazda has also added, to the model grades that have it, a full colour head-up display.
Pricing for 2017 remains around the same, starting from $20,490 and ranging up to $35,490.
I look forward to having a longer period behind the wheel of the new Mazda3, but from what I experienced yesterday it looks like Mazda has taken an excellent product and made it just that bit better.
NUTS and BOLTS - 2017 Mazda3
Engines: 2.0 litre petrol producing 114kW and 200Nm or 2.5 litre petrol producing 138kW and 250Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
Safety: Five star
Price: from $20,490