Constant engine development and software revisions have improved combustion and power, reduced emissions and extended economy in the latest e-Skyactiv X with hybrid assistance.
We tried it out in the newest popular Mazda3 186ps GT Sport, costing from just over £28,000. The specification includes 18-inch black alloys, parking sensors, keyless entry, heated front seats and steering wheel, dual zone air conditioning, intelligent headlights, sunroof, rear privacy glass, 12-speaker Bose sound system and powered driver’s seat linked to head-up display and driver mirror.
That’s a good specification at this price even if it meant a dark interior and rear-seat passengers don’t have enormous legroom.
Up front the driver and passenger have adequate room, plenty of adjustment and the former has a sophisticated memory setting to maintain not only seat but also mirror and the angle of the very useful head-up display onto the windscreen.
The car seems to wrap-around the driver and has really good responses to steering, brakes and throttle as you might expect of a GT Sport hatchback.
The powertrain is so refined now it contrasted with the suspension, which was firm, but also noisy when working away over potholes and ridges in the road surface. Oddments and boot space are both good, and visibility was fairly clear all round when manoeuvring.
For a quick comparison we briefly drove the 165ps Skyactiv-G powered Mazda CX5 2.0, essentially using the previous engine series to the new e-Skyactiv X.
That showed slightly higher fuel consumption and more engine noise with a bigger demand on the driver to extract the available power over a mixture of roads. It’s only a rough comparison as the SUV is bigger than the hatchback but the difference was noticeable.
Having said that, the CX5 remains a firm favourite with its dynamic features pleasing sporting drivers and its practicality and room is very good.
No doubt we’ll see the new engine family gradually extend throughout the Mazda line-up and that will make their internal combustion engines among the best you can buy.
Mini Milestones: Mazda3 186ps hybrid GT Sport Price: £28,005 Mechanical: 186ps 4-cylinder, 2.0 litre petrol, hybrid e-Skyactiv X engine, 6-speed manual Performance: 134mph, 0-62mph 8.1-seconds, combined fuel consumption 53.3mpg, CO2 121g/km Tax costs: BiK company car tax rating 28%, VED First Year road tax £170, Standard rate £145 Insurance Group: 22E Warranty: 3-years/60,000miles Size: L4.46m, W1.80m, H1.44m Bootspace: 401 to 1,022 litres Kerbweight: 1,941kg For: Excellent smooth powertrain with flick-of-wrist gearchanges, very good seats, well equipped, improved economy over previous generation Skyactiv engine Against: Firm ride with large wheels & tyres, noisy suspension, very dark interior, short legroom in the back, ungenerous warranty. Robin Roberts Miles Better News Agency