Bigger diesel engine feels almost too comfortable for its own good in Mazda’s Focus rival

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.

Join the debate

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The Apprentice 5 November 2010

Re: Mazda 3 MZR-CD 2.2

I haven't been able to work out Mazda of late, they are producing claimed powerful diesels but with modest performance figures, I had put it down to the modern problem of bloating weights. My Honda CR-V is a lot bigger than a Mazda 3 and also has a 2.2 150bhp diesel but does 0-60 in 9.3 against the Mazda's 9.2. Surely the Mazda should be far quicker. The 184bhp Mazda 6's should be quicker too.

Who ate all the pies power?

FR3000 5 November 2010

Re: Mazda 3 MZR-CD 2.2

nicfaz wrote:
the first manufacturer to successfully offer a 1.6 to 1.8 litre diesel with 150bhp in a really small car (fiesta, corsa, Fiat 500, etc) would be offering something truly different and attractive in a congested market.

Seat have been there and done this with the Ibiza FR and Cupra. The FR 130 1.9 sold well in Europe (accounted for circa 70% of all FR models sold). The Cupra 160 sales were poor, (hence VAG are not doing another Cupra diesel) which suggests that market didn't actually want it in the first place.

Putting high power/high torque diesels in small cars is fine as long as drive-ability is managed correctly. Cranking high power and torque figures from a diesel is relatively easy, making it useable and easy to live with is an entirely different matter.

The RAM 13 June 2009

Re: Mazda 3 MZR-CD 2.2

nicfaz wrote:
Have to strongly disagree that there's no need for this engine in this car. I think it is really poor product planning by all manufacturers that they don't offer powerful diesel engines in smaller cars, well done to Mazda for realising! Lots of people are currently downgrading from bigger, thirstier cars and looking at cars like the Mazda 3 but will be unwilling to live with an engine that couldn't pull the skin of a rice pudding and 0-60 in 10+ seconds. I think the 182bhp one should sell well if they are careful with the spec.

I downgraded from the Avensis to an Auris T180 last year which has the 2.2 TD engine claiming 0 to 60 in 8.2 secs. The real benefit of the circa180bhp motor is the 295lbs/ft of torque available, it gives more than enough grunt to pull powerfully in all gears certainly 3rd to 6th giving very quick journey times without the need to be constantly stirring the gearbox.

I was contemplating looking at a Mazda 3 Sport 182bhp and wondered if this would be more enjoyable to own than my Auris, which means it would need to be very good?

Any views on this latest Mazda and when is it due a facelift?