Launched in January, the Mazda3 is a success – the Japanese carmaker expects to see sales in the region of 10,000 by the end of the year. But a diesel engine was always a ‘must have’ for the 3 to compete in the ever-growing diesel market.
“The market stands at 34% diesel and is set to rise at 2% per year. We need to be in the market with a diesel that is good to drive, frugal and exciting,” says Mazda UK’s marketing director, Jeremy Thomson. It may not be exactly exciting, but the diesel 3 is just as good to drive as the petrol variant. Despite only having a 1.6-litre displacement the 3 has bags of torque and delivers its power smoothly thanks to electronically controlled injection. Turbo lag is minimal thanks to a system that alters the turbo blade angle to give optimum performance when needed.
This makes for easy driving round town, plus great in-gear performance for overtaking and motorway cruising. It’s not the quietest of units, but it is smooth enough to forget you are driving a diesel until you start to reach the top end of the rev counter.
But where the Mazda3 diesel will really win is on keen pricing and high levels of equipment. This, coupled with 56mpg and good performance, should see Mazda easily reaching its UK sales target of just over 2,000units by the end of this year.
Strengths: Great diesel, keen pricing and well equipped
Weakness: Interior and styling are both a little ordinary
Opportunity: Diesel option opens up a massive new market for 3
Threat: No Sport or TS2 option available until later in year
The USP :Essential option for the Mazda3
Prices: £13,350 - £14,800
Engine: 1.6 DOHCl, 107bhp, 177 lb-ft
Transmission: 5-spd manual, fwd
Performance:0-62 mph 11.5sec; top speed 113mph
Efficiency: 56.5mpg combined; 138g/km CO2
Rivals: Focus TDCi, Civic CDTi, 307 HDi, Megane dCi