A FEW months ago, Mazda introduced its new G-Vectoring control (GVC) system across most of its models in Malaysia.
GVC is the carmaker’s way of elevating the Jinba-Ittai philosophy. Jinba-Ittai means “horse and rider as one” — the engineering inspiration for all the GVC models in Mazda.
The system works by adjusting power delivery and shifting vehicle weight according to the driver’s steering input while making a corner. It improves the handling and ride comfort around corners and on straight roads.
Bermaz Motors Sdn Bhd, the official distributor of Mazda vehicles in Malaysia, had launched the facelifted Mazda3 with GVC in May.
We were given a chance to test drive the Mazda3 Sedan High variant over a weekend.
The locally-assembled Mazda3 Sedan High variant comes with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated SkyActiv-G petrol engine that is hooked to a six-speed automatic transmission. The mill produces 162hp at 6,000rpm and 210Nm of torque from 4,000rpm.
At 4,470mm in length, 1,795mm in width, 1,465 in height, and a wheelbase of 2,700mm, it weighs 1,322kg and it has a boot space of 419 litres, as well as a fuel tank capacity of 51 litres.
Mazda claims that the Mazda3 Sedan High variant can travel about 12.3km with a litre of petrol as well as sprint from standstill to 100kph in 7.8 seconds, with a top speed of 209kph.
The Mazda3 Sedan High variant comes equipped with adaptive LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED taillamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, six-way powered driver seat, single-zone automatic climate control, paddle shifts, cruise control, coloured heads-up display, electronic parking brake and multi-functional steering wheel.
As for the in-car entertainment system, it comes installed with a seven-inch touchscreen MZD connect infotainment system with a six-speaker sound system.
The Mazda3 Sedan High variant’s core safety features include six airbags, anti-lock braking system, brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, dynamic stability control, traction control system, emergency stop signal, lane departure warning system, smart city brake support, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and Isofix child seat mounting points.
The car is priced at RM125,804, inclusive of insurance and the six per cent Goods and Services Tax. Every purchase of a new Mazda vehicle, registered from February 1, will be entitled to a five-year, or 100,000km, manufacturer’s warranty and a three-year, or 60,000km, free maintenance package.
We find that the Mazda3 Sedan High variant is a fun car to drive. It is powerful, handles well, is stylish and comfortable.
The GVC made for a balanced driving experience, whereby the driver really feels as if the car is part of his body. It even reduces the chance of passengers getting motion sickness. It also enables the car to achieve sharper turn-ins. The upgrades were immediately noticeable within the first five minutes of driving.
We managed to drive the Mazda3 Sedan High for more than 800km through cities, highway and rural road tracks.
On the highway, the powerful 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated SkyActiv-G petrol engine can easily get up to its top speed, and certainly it overtakes the traffic effortlessly. It has a well-tuned throttle pedal, which made the car very easy to drive in stop-and-go traffic.
The powerplant is smooth and being mated to a nice six-speed automatic are good partners-in-crime. It upshifts and downshifts quickly and efficiently. The Mazda3 Sedan High variant comes with paddle shifters, but the gear shifts were so efficient that we didn’t, and in fact forgot, to use it.
During high-speed cornering, the Mazda3 Sedan High variant sat steadily on the tarmac, as if it was glued to it. The suspension is firm and has limited vibrations. Its heavy weighted steering is quick and provides accurate feedback to the driver. It made driving kilometres after kilometres of road easy, fun and exciting.
The enhancement of its handling via the GVC isn’t much of a surprise, but the quiet and more comfortable cabin is. Mazda’s engineers have put their effort on sound deadening, upgraded materials and the redesigned seats to provide comfort and ward off driver fatigue. Its isolation of road and wind noise was way better than its previous models.
Its MZD connect infotainment system was very easy and straight forward to operate, while the six-speaker sound system provided a solid bass and clear treble sound quality. However, we find the bass quality is still short of the solid ohm of a subwoofer. The treble quality is acceptable, however, those seeking the clear quality of a live concert can upgrade the speakers if needed.
We managed to clock 10.2km to 11.4km per litre after a mixture of city and highway driving. After a cruise at a speed of 110kph and below, the trip computer recorded 17 to 18.9 km per litre. Meanwhile, after aggressive pedal-to-the-metal driving, the trip computer showed that it was capable of achieving 12.2 to 14.9 km per litre.
Overall, we find the Mazda3 Sedan High variant is an attractive, exciting and fun car to drive. It looks futuristic and premium on both its exterior and interior. With the lane departure warning system, smart city brake support, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, these systems have truly enhanced the safety for both the owner and public road users.
Nonetheless, there are no perfect cars in this world, the Mazda3 still has room for improvement. We find that the instrument cluster could do well with a more futuristic design, or even better be fully digital.
Apart from the instrument cluster, we find that the rear passenger space is short of head and knee room for large framed adults that are taller than six feet.