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DRIVEN: Functional, versatile new Mazda 3

Take this for a test drive, it will grow on you too.

To be honest, Mazda as a brand is not a carmaker which shows up much on my radar.

The all new Mazda 3 hatchback was never on the wish list of cars that I would like to drive … and I reckon many other young adults would probably not give it a second glance either and would much rather go for the sportiness and style of the VW GTI range.

However, I wasn’t going to write off the Mazda 3 when I was offered the chance of spending a week with it. That’s because when I was younger, my parents owned an old Mazda 626, and that car was an extremely reliable family car until it was hijacked from our driveway in a typical South African manner.

And, after a week with the car, I can truly say: Don’t always believe the clichés and stereotypes – try things yourself and come to your own opinion. You might very well end up as surprised and pleased as I was with this Mazda.
I’m not going to touch on the stats this car produced because this is not a brochure for Mazda. I was solely concerned about how this car would fare for the most harsh critics – my family and friends.
I got to spend a week with the Mazda3 2.0L Astina Plus AT version, which is the flagship model in the range.
My overall first impression of the exterior was one of uncertainty: It didn’t have the sportiness or style that other carmakers were trending towards… but it certainly wasn’t ugly either.
It was only when I saw the interior that my entire perception of the car changed. Everything was very well put together, although some of the material seemed cheap.
All the instrument panels were well thought out and I loved the way the entire entertainment system in the car was built around ease of use for the driver. Being a tech geek, I was blown away at the sophistication in the media system.

It was easy to navigate your way around the vast array of options, from Bluetooth to SatNav, you name it and this little baby has it.
The best part of it all is that it’s part of the standard features of this particular model, so there is no need to purchase and install an after-market radio that’s barely compatible with your steering wheel controls.
I made it my mission to transport as many of my friends and family in the Mazda 3 as I could, so I could see how they reacted and how much it improved the quality of our trip.

I was pleasantly surprised at how many of my passengers had a positive reaction to the car.
Everybody loved it and as I spent more and more time with the Mazda 3 it started growing on me as well.
I loved the versatility of this vehicle. For a hatchback it was able to hold a rather sizeable amount of camera equipment, from a professional tripod, a huge aluminium case and studio lights.
Surprisingly, everything fitted with space to spare and this just made me want to use the Mazda 3 to take me from Jozi to Pretoria, back to Jozi, then to Sebokeng, then back to Jozi and before I knew it, 450km later, my time with this lovely vehicle was up.
Sadly life returned to normal and the squeaks that grace my 16-year-old car’s dashboard became my sad reality once again.

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