First DriveMid-life revisions improve the Mazda 3’s dynamics and reduce NVH still further, but the 2.2 diesel lacks sparkle
First DriveBrackley-based tuning specialist BBR has a long history of working with Mazda’s MX-5, and the firm has now launched a three-stage tuning programme for the 3 MPS
What is it?
This is the Mazda 3 MZR-CD 2.2 turbodiesel. Mazda likes to do things its own way, so while most Focus-sized cars max out their diesel options at 2.0 litres, the Japanese firm has treated its revised Mazda 3 to its new 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine.
The unit comes in three configurations in the larger Mazda 6, but the Mazda 3 gets only the two more powerful versions, with 182bhp and 148bhp.
It’s the weaker of the two options that we’re trying here, but in a car of the Mazda 3 MZR-CD 2.2’s size and weight the motor feels anything but puny. It pulls smoothly and strongly from a little over 1500rpm, and its 266lb ft of torque is more than capable of pulling the 3 along at a decent lick. Mazda claims that 0-60mph takes just 9.2sec, and it feels like it.
What’s it like?
Impressive. Refinement was the main goal with the latest Mazda 3, and the new Mazda 3 MZR-CD 2.2 fits into that programme nicely. Yes, it’s a diesel, and there is some clatter at start-up, but the Mazda 3’s engine is far from intrusive when you’re pushing on and it remains a relaxed cruiser at motorway speeds.
The six-speed gearbox feels slick, but there’s enough torque on tap without resorting to dancing between ratios. And while you do feel the extra weight of the engine out front, the revised Mazda 3 is still a nicely sorted package, with decent balance, firm but well damped suspension and beautifully linear steering.
Should I buy one?
The new Mazda 3 is such a well-rounded package that it’s hard to argue against buying one. The only real debate, in fact, is whether many buyers will actually need this potent a diesel in this area of the market; the PSA-sourced 1.6-litre diesel lower in the range does the job pretty well already. But the 2.2 will undoubtedly be pitched, and priced, against 2.0-litre diesels from Ford, Volkswagen and Renault. If your needs put you in that territory, then the Mazda is definitely worth considering.