Mazda3 XD Astina Review and First Drive

by under Review on 26 Aug 2014 07:18:10 AM26 Aug 2014
Price Range
$NaN - $NaN
Fuel Consumption
NaNL - NaNL/100km

Powerful diesel; great drive; massive list of standard features


Just a little wind noise at speed

Talk about good things come to those who wait. Mazda3 XD Astina, the turbo-diesel version of the hot-selling Mazda3, is arriving in showrooms now - six months after the petrol models arrived - and stakes a claim to being the best of the diesel hatchbacks.


Yep, that’s a big claim given the credentials of the European turbo-diesels but honestly the Mazda3 XD Astina really is that good. For starters, Mazda’s 2.2-litre turbo-diesel empowers the ‘3’ with 129kW/420Nm leaving some of the Euros looking under-done under the bonnet.
Surprising to some, Mazda has positioned and equipped the Mazda3 XD Astina as the range-topping hero model of the lineup – there is no base model diesel for say fleet customers.  So even just a quick glance at the standards specs - which include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, satellite navigation and a reversing camera - shows Mazda3 XD Astina has clobbered the Euros and other major rivals on that front too. 
Launch of the turbo-diesel models brings to 14 the number of Mazda3 variants – a luxury you can justify when your vehicle is at or near the top of the Australian sales charts outright month-on-month. Buoyed by the success of the ‘3’, ‘6’, CX-5, BT-50 and with the all-new Mazda2 compact just about to launch, Mazda will sell more than 1.42 million vehicles globally this year and, with profits currently 19 per-cent up on last year, the Japanese giant is also looking at a record financial result as well.
There’s no ‘black magic’ - good, well-priced product presses the buttons for consumers and keeps the assembly lines buzzing at full speed.

Mazda3 XD Astina Overview

The two new XD Astina versions assume the top of the totem pole for the Mazda3 range. The six-speed manual is priced at $40,230 and the six-speed automatic is stickered at $42,230.


That’s good value when you consider the diesel models boast the sports/luxury equipment of the SP25 Astina grade plus 18-inch alloy wheels, LED fog-lights, leather/suede seat trim, unique sports rear bumper and grille plus ‘Active Engine Sound’ (an artificial amplification of engine noise to boost the high-performance sound of the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel at work). 
Addition of the two XD Astina models sees the Mazda3 lineup look like this:
Neo 2.0l petrol manual $20,490
Neo 2.0l petrol automatic $22,490
Maxx 2.0l petrol manual $22,990
Maxx 2.0l petrol automatic $24,990
Touring 2.0l petrol manual $25,490
Touring 2.0l petrol automatic $27,490
SP25 2.5l petrol manual $25,890
SP25 2.5l petrol automatic $27,890
SP25 GT 2.5l petrol manual $30,590
SP25 GT 2.5l petrol automatic $32,590
SP25 Astina 2.5l petrol manual $36,190
SP25 Astina 2.5l petrol automatic $38,190
XD Astina 2.2l turbo-diesel manual $40,230
XD Astina 2.2l turbo-diesel automatic $42,230

Mazda3 XD Astina Engine

Mazda3 XD Astina enjoys the same 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine we know from the CX-5 and Mazda6.  It’s called a ‘Skyactive-D’ engine as it employs the ‘egg-shaped’ pistons, i-ELOOP and i-stop technologies which are now synonymous with Mazda’s ground-breaking fuel-saving new technology.
With a lightweight aluminium block and other weight-saving technology, Mazda3 XD Astina’s engine tips the scales 42kgs lighter than the previous MZR-CD 2.2-litre engine. Mazda calls the turbocharger system ‘Two-Stage’ – like others it employs one small and one large turbocharger which operate selectively (the small one at low to mid-range engine speeds) to achieve optimal turbocharger performance as required.
Maximum power is 129kW at 4500rpm and peak torque of 420Nm is delivered at 2000rpm. Clearly this gives the Mazda3 XD Astina a performance edge over major rivals – the Ford Focus ST petrol delivers 184kW but falls short in torque at 360Nm (120kW/340Nm for Ford’s turbo-diesel) while the Volkswagen Golf GTi petrol musters 162kW/350Nm or 110kW/320Nm for the turbo-diesel powered Highline model.
Combined-cycle fuel consumption for the Mazda3 XD Astina is rated at 5.0l/100kms (manual) and 5.2l/100kms) auto.
Drive is to the front wheels via the ‘Skyactiv’ six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Both have fuel-saving i-stop idling stop technology.

Mazda3 XD Astina The Interior

Inside, the Mazda3 XD Astina is knockout with beautifully-trimmed leather/suede seats, nicely sculptured for support and providing a great driving position (aided by rake/each adjustment for the perfectly-sized, leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel). And as it’s the Astina grade, the turbo-diesel Mazda3 delivers the upscale specs including Mazda’s slick head-up display (called ‘Active Driving Display’ in Mazda-speak) and Bose audio plus the full suite of safety technology including Blind Spot Monitoring, Forward Obstruction Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Smart City Brake Support and Lane Departure Warning (a reversing camera is standard on all mazda3 models except the entry-grade Neo).


Rear seat accommodation is amongst the best in the small car league and cargo space (rear seat in-place) is handy at 308-litres.

Mazda3 XD Astina Exterior & Styling

Subtle but stylish differences distinguish the Mazda3 XD Astina from the rest of the range. Up-front are LED fog-lights and a sporty red accent for the grille while the rear sees a unique black painted lower bumper.
And wheels are 18-inch ‘bright’ alloys.

Mazda3 XD Astina On The Road

Mazda is positioning the ‘3’ XD Astina as a the performance/luxury range-topper of the Mazda3 lineup, so appropriately the drive route for the national media preview covered some of the sensational roads between Launceston and Hobart used for the Targa Tasmania rally. After a full day driving both manual and automatic versions, the clear conclusion is the XD Astina – like the rest of the Mazda3 range in fact – is a car enthusiast drivers will enjoy.


The turbo-diesel Mazda3 runs unique transmission and final drive ratios and has larger rear dampers with a different calibration to petrol models. Of course the Skyactiv-Chassis and crisp 14:1 steering ratio have already been identified as major contributors to the overall sharp driving dynamics we’ve noticed in previous Mazda3 tests.
Over those Tasmanian roads, the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel proved to be a gem with excellent pulling power thanks to that handy 420Nm of torque and impressive refinement at all engine speeds. Mid-turn acceleration and rapid overtaking were always on-tap.


Through the twisty stuff we were again reminded of how competent the Mazda3 is with crisp turn-in and great balance even on some of the damp, moss-covered roads you get in these parts in winter. Very predictable and the traction control system was nicely calibrated.

Mazda3 XD Astina Issues

We did notice a bit of wind noise around the windscreen and mirrors but this may have been exaggerated by the overall quietness of the turbo-diesel engine and most of the day we drove in wet weather.

Mazda3 XD Astina Verdict

Excellent as the rest of the Mazda3 range is, it shouldn’t surprise that the turbo-diesel model is a pearler. Sure, the staggeringly comprehensive equipment levels of the Astina grade are part of the story but there’s no denying the proficiency of the turbo-diesel engine and chassis set-up.


As we’ve said, the Mazda3 is right at the top of the list for the best small car on the market and if you’re shopping for a diesel model, the XD Astina should go straight into your consideration.

Mazda3 XD Astina The Competition

Mazda has positioned the ‘3’ XD Astina as the performance/luxury leader of the Mazda 3 range and freely admits its rivals are the likes of Ford Focus RS, Volkswagen Golf GTi and Highline and even the Renault Megane RS. Where you have to pay attention when making comparisons is with the massive list of standard features included in the Mazda3 XD Astina – it certainly gives the opposition some heartache.
Ford Focus is a Favourite in this league. While not the newest design, Focus’ German origins are obvious with its classy interior and slick chassis dynamics – it too is a car enthusiast drivers will appreciate. And while the ST ($38,290, six-speed manual only) is petrol powered, the diesel-powered Titanium at $36,490 is sharply priced.


A similar story with the racy Renault Megane RS (from $37,990) – it’s petrol powered. Megane too is a Favourite and it is certainly in the ‘race car’ category when it comes to driving dynamics. We love the looks of the Megane inside and out.
Volkswagen Golf GTi starts at $41,490 so it’s getting pricey and some may argue the $34,490 Highline grade turbo-diesel is a more likely rival for the Mazda3 XD Astina. Golf is Volkswagen at its best and that means sublime build quality and super-sharp driving dynamics. 

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