|Mazda’s clever Skyactiv-X compression ignition technology is claimed to offer the performance of a petrol engine and the efficiency of a diesel, and debuts alongside the saloon version of Mazda’s new lower medium 3 model.|
|Key rival:||Hyundai i30 fastback|
|Mazda 3 saloon 2.0 180hp Sport Skyactiv-X|
The new Mazda 3 has been well received as a serious competitor at the top end of the lower-medium segment, but the Japanese brand has further increased the car’s appeal with the two-pronged arrival of a saloon bodystyle and the much-anticipated new Skyactiv-X engine tech.
Skyactiv-X is a petrol engines that uses clever compression ignition tech (which is how diesels run) to cut emissions to just 96g/km for the saloon or 100g/km for the hatchback. And it develops 180hp. Which are pretty impressive figures.
The saloon bodystyle costs the same as the hatchback and offers an extra 93 litres of boot space in a car that’s 200mm longer, but with the caveat that a hatchback shape and load access are more practical than the longer and narrower saloon style. But it’s a good-looking car that appears bigger than its hatch sibling, and the boot goes back a long way into the car, which is where the extra space comes from.
From a running-costs perspective, the saloon shape is slightly more aerodynamic, leading to a 0.9mpg efficiency advantage for the Skyactiv-X model, as well as the 4g/km difference that drops the saloon by one BiK band compared with the hatch. The saloon’s residual value is also a touch better, giving it a 0.8p-per-mile cost advantage, and for anyone wanting a saloon bodystyle, it’s only this car, the Honda Civic, Hyundai’s i30 Fastback or a Toyota Corolla.
The new engine’s numbers impress, even if it doesn’t feel quite as punchy as the 180hp figure might suggest. However, it’s still a much better performer than any other sub-100g/km petrol car in its segment. It feels a bit flat, but picks up nicely with higher revs and is pretty refined, along with the precise gearchange feel expected from Mazda.
Even on this entry Sport spec’s smaller-diameter wheels, the ride is on the firm side, but the 3 in saloon or hatch form is an entertaining drive.