Pre-facelift Mazda 3 and Post-facelift Mazda 3: spot the difference!
The Mazda 3 has been featuring in UK-based car magazines recently, partly as one of the weeklies has been running one as a LTT car (a Fastback 1.5L Diesel SportNav) and also because the 3 has just been given an very mild facelift and tech update. I thought I’d use this as an excuse to impart the news on the facelifted car and also throw in an update on how my own car has been running.
So, in reverse order, my own 2015 car has been working, thanks. I use the phrase ‘working’ under advice from the specialist garage (BL Autos) which now looks after my C6. Apparently, describing the condition of a large, used Citroen using a more positive phrase is foolhardily asking for trouble. As if to prove the point, having told the guy there how well my C6 had been running recently, it promptly failed its MOT on the basis of having split a front strut (I had previously not thought such a thing as being possible) … and, together with the need for a new front bush, that’s another near four figure (£) sum spent in 6 months. So, lest the 3 comes under the bad influence of the 6, I’m now being careful with my terminology.
Going back to the plot (i.e. the Mazda), I have experienced my best ever fuel economy on a tankful (63.4 MPG – on one journey home it hit 69.8), and, at very close to 20k miles on the clock, the front tyres look like they still have another 4-5k in them (the rears look barely worn). Otherwise, there is little to report – the car still annoys on the road noise front, suffers from rear cabin perceived quality and comfort issues (my kids still have an aversion to riding in the back of it), but, in every other way, it is working.
So, what has Mazda chosen to do for the 3’s update? Well, it seems to have focused on two areas that needed no fixing whatsoever – the handling and the engine – and largely ignored the existing areas of weakness.
The chassis now benefits from a fiendishly clever thing called “G-Vectoring Control”. Mazda itself describes this innovation in the following manner:
“It intelligently adjusts engine torque in response to steering inputs in a unified way and optimizes the vertical loading of each tyre to realize smooth and efficient vehicle behaviour. The result is a dramatic improvement to steering and handling performance, for smoother acceleration forces on passengers and a more comfortable drive.”
All road tests I have read thus far say that this feature is so fiendish that its impact is “imperceptible”. Now, this might be taken as a good thing in that it takes nothing away in normal driving, but, given that I already rate the car as one of the finest handling of any car that I have owned, it does seem a bit of a wasted effort. However, I do like a bit of chassis innovation, and, of course, I should really wait until I can pass my own judgement on it, so I shall try to find time and an excuse to take a new model out for a test drive.
Similarly, Mazda has implemented a new ‘Transient Control’ system to make the diesel engines more responsive and also a ‘Natural Sound Smoother’ to make the diesel feel and sound more refined. Autocar describes these things as follows: “Work has been done to reduce turbo lag and improve torque delivery, and while it’s difficult to detect this over the old car, the lesser of the two diesels remains happy to pull from 1800rpm and doesn’t suffer too narrow a band on song. …. Mazda has also worked on diesel refinement. It has revised its 2.2-litre unit’s pistons to ensure less vibration and fiddled with the injector timing in an effort to cancel out some of the engine’s higher-frequency sounds.” Again, I’ll have to report back after a test drive, but, given my LTT experience, I do wonder whether this is lily-gilding.
Note that all of the above tech is also featured on the Mazda 6, and I’ll bet it makes its way to the Mazda2, CX-3, CX-5 and the rest of the FWD range any time now.
Mazda has made some minor trim upgrades inside, which I’ll need to sample to tell you if they make any difference, and, annoyingly, they have forsaken the excellently sited handbrake for an unnecessary electric job. On the outside, it has done something quite minor to the nose, which makes the grille, bumper and bib ensemble look a little better integrated and rounded and, thus, similar to its siblings, but has thankfully otherwise left it well alone (I say that as it should make less of a dent on residuals than a more obvious restyling).
All in all, I still find much to like and admire about Mazda – and the 3 in particular – even if (or maybe, subconsciously, especially as) the focus of its continuous improvement efforts seems a little hobbyist-bordering-on-obsessive in the engineering department.
[Image sources for slideshow: Mazda Belgium]