The Melbourne Zoo, but the lady came along as she had never been before, so I guess it was more of a threesome.
Well, given the diesel-powered Mazda 3 XD Astina is only available as a hatchback, I reckon it would be great to load it up with a stack of gear and a full tank from the black pump and head off for a road trip.
The all-new third-generation 3 is no doubt a sleek looking thing, but hot? I’m not quite there…
Overall the fit and finish and quality of materials used is right up there, giving the Japanese small car a genuinely premium feel.
Boosting cabin ambience further are leather and Alcantara seat trim, red stitching highlights and dash-mounted MZD Connect infotainment unit.
Finished in Soul Red metallic (a $200 option), I think the colour is a definite plus.
Features wise, though, it’s hard to go by the plethora of safety tech including forward collision alert, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, auto high beams, radar controlled adaptive cruise control and a reversing camera with rear cross-traffic alert.
A common trait of past Mazda 3s, the XD Astina again suffers from louder than you’d expect road and wind noise.
On a practical note too for a small car bound to spend its days running to and from the shops, the 308-litre boot is on the smaller side and a touch shallow and, sadly, cargo hook free.
Most definitely. There’s good room in the back for kids and adults and while legroom isn’t vast and toes can get a bit squishy under the front seats, headroom is reasonable. There are however, no rear air vents – something my mum’s seven-year-old diesel Volkswagen Golf GT Sport is equipped with.
Requiring a $319-$387 capped-price service every 10,000kms, the flagship 3 isn’t cheap to maintain, but it does come with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
Cost is a hard one to overlook. Dropping in starting price from $40,220 to $39,290 as part of a 2015 range reshuffle, the Mazda 3 XD Astina manual still comes in $4000 dearer than entry-level diesel-powered Volkswagen Golf hatch (the 110TDI Highline).
In fact, you can get into the equivalent Golf wagon and still save $2450 over the five-door Mazda. And both Germans come standard with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and claim fractionally better fuel consumption.
Entertaining to drive and hugely pleasant to live with and sit in, personally I’d simply struggle to justify the XD 3’s price premium over its rivals. Might have to give this one a miss I’m afraid.
For now, yes. The little Mazda has come so far from its old 323 roots – my first car was a 1998 BJ 323 Astina – and it's great to see it become such a high-class product. But these days the market is so competitive, that the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i30 cannot be ignored.
Diesel power is still a clever alternative for those who are likely to rack up plenty of kays. And if you’ve got a small-ish family and are happy shelling out some extra coin on a beautifully presented and well-specced Mazda 3, then the XD Astina is still worth your weekend car-hunting time.