Hot on the heels of its Australian release a couple of weeks ago, Carupdate secured a drive of the MZR-CD diesel derivative of Mazdaâ€™s favourite son the Mazda 3. The Mazda3 is Mazdaâ€™s top selling car with sales of the 3 accounting for almost half of Mazdaâ€™s sales in July this year, a month that saw Mazda take the number four overall position with 7.5% of national sales. That makes the Mazda3 a significant seller in this country and a common sight on our roads.
In this age of climate change, global warming and world wide concern as fuel prices rise and oil reserves continue to dwindle, car manufacturers are finding it easier to sell products that are perceived as â€˜greenâ€™ and or â€˜economicalâ€™ or as we like to say, easy on the environment while getting plenty of kâ€™s to the tank. It makes sense that we have seen a rise in the popularity of diesel powered cars, a trend that doesnâ€™t look like faltering anytime soon.
When I first arrived to take the keys of the Mazda3 MZR-CD sedan it was extremely difficult to distinguish it from any other 3, with the MZR-CD badge on the side of the door being the only point of difference.
The MZR-CD moniker refers to the engine code of the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel powerplant. An impressive engine the little diesel produces 105kW and an amazing 360Nm.
I was apprehensive when turning the key for the initial start up, expecting to hear a loud diesel clatter. In the past, it has not been uncommon for diesel engines to sound like there is a mini jackhammer chiselling away under the bonnet, which is a noise not all that welcome in a normal passenger car.
Needless to say I was surprised when the engine started and the cabin remained quiet. It is unmistakeably a diesel, especially when youâ€™re standing outside the car but all in all it is reasonably quiet and refined for an oiler.
The Mazda 3â€™s are a good solid platform with remarkably sharp, precise steering good brakes and a responsive ride to match. Throw in a largish boot and enough legroom in the sedan to sit four adults comfortably and it isnâ€™t hard to see why Aussies love this car.
On the road, the MZR-CD is a smooth operator. A fraction sluggish off the line, it doesnâ€™t take long for the revs to rise and the wave of torque to kick in (maximum torque is produced at 2,000 rpm!). Ideal for both zipping around town and long drives thanks to its efficiency, power and relative refinement the MZR-CD makes a compelling argument for a small diesel family car.
Mazda claim an impressive combined city/highway cycle of 6.0L/100km, despite the diesel being 150kgs heavier then the petrol powered 3. Highway only driving can see the economy dip to 5.4L/100. Mazda also claim that the MZR-CD will accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 9.5 seconds.
Standard features for the Mazda3 Diesel include 16-inch alloy wheels, the same body kit as seen on the Maxx sport model, and the same 6-speed manual gearbox found in the Mazda3 and Mazda6 MPS performance models. An automatic gearbox is not available with the diesel engine as yet. Additionally, there are a number of standard safety features including, dynamic stability control and traction control, six airbags, ABS, EBD and larger brakes (borrowed from the SP23) than the petrol powered 3 to better handle the increased weight and performance.
In addition to the standard safety features the MZR-CD also features standard air-conditioning, 6-disc CD changer and cruise control with steering wheel mounted controls, power windows and mirrors as well as an iPod /MP3 sound system input jack.
The Mazda MZR-CD is well worth a look. If your looking for a well equipped, powerful but fuel efficient small car that seats four comfortably then the MZR-CD should be on your short-list. Pricing for both the sedan and hatch starts at $30,500 and both are now in dealers showrooms.