The Mazda3 XD Astina may have been later to arrive that its multi award-winning petrol stablemates but this twin-turbo diesel could be the cream of the illustrious crop. Fast, refined and fuel-efficient, the Mazda3 XD Astina proves the European brands no longer have exclusivity when it comes to sporty diesel-powered small hatchbacks.
Boasting a huge list of high-tech standard equipment, the best of ‘SkyActiv’ technology and fuel consumption as low as 5.0l/100kms, we think the Mazda2 XD Astina may indeed be the ‘3’ to buy.
Mazda3 XD Astina Overview
The turbo-diesel Mazda XD is only offered in the range-topping ‘Astina’ specification. For www.carshowroom.com.au Mazda Australia handed over the keys to a six-speed manual model ($40,230) or you can go for a six-speed automatic version which will set you back $42,230.
Our test car was fitted with an excellent option pack which brought a carbon-fibre look roof and black alloy wheels.
Over the already massively equipped Mazda3 SP25 GT model, extras included in the Astina grade include radar cruise control, Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Smart Brake Support (SBS), Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW), and High Beam Control (HBC).
Mazda3 XD Astina Engine
Mazda3 XD shares its engine with both the CX-5 and Mazda6. And why not – the twin-turbocharged 2.2-litre, four-cylinder is a ripper.
And of course, ‘SkyActiv’ technology turns conventional thinking for diesel engines on its head in the same way as it does for petrol engines. Except the other way around.
So for the Mazda3, the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel delivers maximum power of 129kW at 4500rpm and peak torque of 420Nm arrives at 2000rpm. Mazda fans will detect these outputs are identical to the Mazda6 and CX-5 but of course the Mazda3 is considerably lighter (76kgs lighter than the ‘6 and 168kgs lighter than the CX-5) and a lighter weight means a better power-to-weight ratio…like we said the Mazda3 XD Astina is distinctly sporty.
And speaking of those ‘SkyActiv’ traits, this turbo diesel pulls very strongly all the way through to its astonishingly high (for a diesel) redline of 5,500rpm.
Combined-cycle fuel consumption is rated at 5.0l/100kms for the six-speed manual model we tested or 5.2l/100kms for the auto.
Like the Mazda6, the Mazda3 XD Astina runs Mazda’s i-ELOOP system which stores electrical energy gleaned while braking in a capacitor. This means the engine works less to power the electrics and hence saves fuel – very smart.
Mazda3 XD Astina The Interior
There is certainly a sporty look and feel inside the Mazda3 XD Astina – obvious as soon as you spot the nicely-contoured front seats trimmed in leather and suede with red contrast stitching. The leather-red stitching combo continues to the handbrake lever and gear-lever and works with piano black trim highlights for the doors and centre console to ram-home the quality up-scale ambience which Mazda has certainly perfected.
The nicely-sized three-spoke steering wheel (also leather/red stitching) combines with plenty of seat adjustment for the driver to provide an optimal driving position and view of the head-up-display (Mazda’s version employs a pop-up screen atop the curved instrument binnacle).
We continue to score the Mazda3 instruments very highly. Clever design and a mix of analogue and digital makes for a very space-efficient and functional display.
To the left is the excellent high-mounted, free-standing seven-inch screen for audio, climate control and satellite navigation. This is driven by a rotary dial on the centre console ahead of the handbrake.
Audio is a premium Bose system with a 231 watt amplifier.
The Car Showroom juniors were happy with their lot in the 60:40 split-fold rear seat although we felt some extra lateral support wouldn’t have gone astray. One of lanky mates grumbled a bit about rear headroom but he does have a different weather pattern around his ‘bonce’ compared to us normally-sized folk.
Overall we reckon the Mazda3 enjoys one of the more spacious interiors amongst the small car hatchbacks. However cargo space is just on-par with others in this league at 308-litres.
Mazda3 XD Astina Exterior & Styling
We know it’s risky commenting on styling, but for us, the Mazda3 looks great. We like the dimensions (of course the relatively long bonnet length is in part dictated by the need to accommodate ‘SkyActiv’ engine technology) and we like the curves.
Mazda has also nailed the glass-to-body proportions which work with the powerful rear haunches to give the ‘3’ a sporty/purposeful on-road stance. And that hallmark Mazda ‘Kodo – soul of motion’ large grille adds to the sportiness.
Subtle differences distinguish the turbo-diesel Mazda3 on the outside. A red highlight strip around the front grille, a black hue for the rear diffuser, LED front fog-lights and dark silver alloy wheels (optional black on our test car) are it.
Mazda3 XD Astina On The Road
Underneath the ‘3’ XD Astina is Mazda’s nicely-developed MacPherson strut front/multi-link rear suspension. As we’ve seen with the ‘6’ and CX-5, when it comes to the suspension development/tune race, Mazda is currently in front and showing a clean pair of heels to rival Japanese brands.
Fire-up the Mazda XD Astina and the first surprise is the exhaust note which is impressively ‘un-diesel’. It’s quiet too, not only in cold start-up but also in running.
Around town Mazda’s sporty turbo-diesel hatchback is a winner with that massive 420Nm of torque delivering abundant acceleration and flexibility (so our six-speed manual did little work even in the morning rush-hour peak). And that slick chassis is obvious with a small 10.6-metre turning circle which made light work of CBD parking restrictions.
But it was over our high-speed mountain roads test loop where our Mazda3 XD Astina did its best work. Just as its petrol-fuelled sibling did.
Mazda has fettled the spring/damper tune to give the ‘3’ a more rear-biased European sort of chassis balance. Again this sees the ‘3’ a long way ahead of its fellow Japanese hatchbacks.
Combine that with superb, pin-sharp steering and the result over our high-speed mountain roads test loop was very, very impressive. OK, the Mazda3 XD Astina isn’t as sporty as Volkswagen’s petrol Golf GTI, which is much firmer in its suspension calibration, but all things considered the ‘3’ takes some beating – regardless of country-of-origin.
Mazda3 XD Astina Challenges
Just two areas worthy of points deduction. And they’re minor.
Possibly exaggerated by the overall quietness of the Mazda3 XD Astina, some tyre noise on coarse-chip and poor quality roads was noticed.
And we think the rear seat, while undoubtedly spacious, is a tad flat and lacking support (this exaggerated by the high cornering grip levels and superb chassis).
Mazda3 XD Astina Verdict
So there you have it – the new Mazda3 XD Astina is well-equipped, refined, fast and nice to drive. Since Volkswagen axed the Golf GTD, the Mazda3 XD Astina really stands out as plum choice for sporty hatchback drivers who want diesel power (particularly our test car with its great option pack).
A quick word about safety. In local ANCAP barrier testing, the Mazda3 scored 36.7 points out of a possible 37 to romp-in the maximum 5-Star rating.
Bottom line is Mazda hasn’t missed a thing on the Mazda3 XD Astina. This is the one by which others will be judged and we reckon it will sell-up a storm in Europe…and Australia.
Choosing between Mazda3 SP25 Astina petrol and a XD Astina? Now that’s a tough question but, based on this test, we’re actually leaning slightly in favour of the turbo-diesel.
Mazda3 XD Astina The Competition
Volkswagen’s perplexing decision to axe the Golf GTD leaves direct rivals for the Mazda3 XD Astina a bit thin on the ground. The range-topping turbo-diesel Golf is now 110TDI Highline and to be fair it was never intended as rival for the Mazda – for starters the German’s 2.0-litre engine is 19kW/100Nm shy. But at $34,490 you get the hallmark Golf quality, driving dynamics and exquisite styling.
Same for the Audi A3 – good as it is (and it’s truly great) there isn’t really a high-performance turbo-diesel variant. For $42,800 you get the 2.0TDI Ambition (110kW/320Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel) which boasts the usual Audi gorgeous interior and benchmark quality.
And from Mercedes-Benz, the A200 CDI (100kW/300Nm 1.8-litre turbo-diesel) is very sharply priced at $40,900. The ‘Benz is brilliant but not quite as rapid/sporty as the Mazda3 XD Astina.