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Driven: Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition. Image by Mazda UK.

Driven: Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition
Smart looks for the Mazda3 as a centenary gift, but the SPCCI engine continues to bug us.

   



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Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition

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Good points: looks even more lovely than ever in 100th Anniversary colour scheme, both outside and in

Not so good: the Skyactiv-X engine, which flatters to deceive; and you've probably missed the boat on them all...

Key Facts

Model tested: Mazda3 2.0 180 Skyactiv-X 100th Anniversary Edition
Price: Mazda3 range from 21,805; 100th Anniversary Edition from 29,995 as tested
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder Skyactiv-X Spark-Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) petrol with M Hybrid mild-hybrid technology
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door mild-hybrid hatchback
CO2 emissions: 131g/km (VED Band 131-150: 220 in year one, then 155 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 48.7mpg
Top speed: 134mph
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
Power: 180hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 224Nm at 3,000rpm
Boot space: 351-1,022 litres

Our view:

Without going into chapter and verse here, we've driven the current fourth-generation Mazda3 a few times since its launch in 2019 and this particular model, the eye-catching 100th Anniversary Edition, is mechanically unchanged from a 2.0-litre, 180hp Skyactiv-X, which is the clever if occasionally annoying spark-controlled compression ignition (SPCCI) motor. So this car is essentially a GT Sport derivative with that diesel-mimicking petrol engine fitted in the engine bay, only with some centenary-celebrating special bits bolted onto it.

Therefore, if you want to know what we think of a Mazda3 Skyactiv-X, click on the hyperlink in the paragraph above for an in-depth review, although know now that we're less and less convinced by the merits of the SPCCI engine, each and every time we drive it. It doesn't like to rev freely, it feels hesitant in the midrange and it wasn't even that frugal, recording 27.4mpg across 90 miles of testing. Albeit, a lot of those were, um, quite spirited miles; its best of 43.4mpg on a steadier A-road run is a tad more commendable and perhaps more indicative of how owners will drive it.

What we will say is the Mazda3 looks quite fabulous in its higher specifications. Snowflake White Pearlescent paint over a Burgundy leather interior complete with a highlight strip in the dash, and then all of the body, cabin and 18-inch black metallic wheels studded by various '100 Years 1920-2020' logos is really quite smashing to behold. Also, you're guaranteed rarity with the Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition, as just 100 units of it have been confirmed for the UK. A similar run of 100th AE examples of the MX-5 and the CX-30 were also available, but the special versions of the Mazda2, Mazda6 and the CX-5 will be hen's teeth on these shores, with just five 100th AE cars in each model line.

But rarity and nice colours alone do not make a knockout car. We love the Mazda3, especially its fluid chassis and impressive rolling refinement, and we deeply admire the engineering that has gone into the SPCCI. Nevertheless, we can't help but conclude that a light-pressure turbo 2.0-litre would've been a much better bet than Mazda's fancy powerplant. Good news on the horizon, though: later in 2021, an updated Skyactiv-X with a touch more power and torque is on the way. We'll bring you a review of that as soon as we can.

Alternatives:

Audi A3: if you want a splendid cabin and styling on a C-segment car, if admittedly a pricey one, the Audi A3 is the model for you.

Ford Focus: Mazda has the edge on styling and interior, matches the Ford's chassis, but doesn't quite have the drivetrains to go with it all.

Skoda Octavia: we'd have this over a Volkswagen Golf 8 in a heartbeat. Splendid interior and drivetrains, vast amount of cabin/boot space, and smooth manners.


Matt Robinson - 9 Feb 2021



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2021 Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2021 Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2021 Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2021 Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2021 Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition UK test. Image by Mazda UK.

2021 Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2021 Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2021 Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2021 Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition UK test. Image by Mazda UK.2021 Mazda3 100th Anniversary Edition UK test. Image by Mazda UK.








 

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