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Mazda3 XD Astina diesel hatch 2015 review

EXPERT RATING
8
Craig Duff road tests and reviews the Mazda3 XD Astina with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Sporty Astinas hide performance potential under classy styling.

I have fond and fast memories of the Mazda Astina. I owned one of the pop-up headlight models in the early 1990s when the Astina badge was bestowed on models with sporty aspirations. It was a match for the hot-hatch twin-cam Corollas that ruled the teenage garages of the era, but was styled and spec'd as a more up-market model.

Today's Astinas follow the same approach: quick enough to be seriously entertaining and kitted out with the latest features found in the compact car segment.

You pay for the privilege, with the SP25 Astina set at $35,040 and the diesel-powered XD Astina at $39,290 — add $2000 for the six-speed automatic and they're well into $40K territory on-road.

The XD is a great drive and one of the most refined diesels on sale. With the auto fitted it is only half a second slower to 100km/h than the SP25 Astina, but the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel's peak torque — 420Nm — gives it a decided edge once under way.

If I was buying a small diesel hatch, the XD Astina would be the first one I'd test drive

Point it at a hill, or load it up with adults and luggage, and the extra oomph is even more evident.

Buyers really need to like the smell of diesel fumes in the morning, given that the oiler's $4200 premium saves just 0.9L of fuel every 100km and adds only suede highlights on the leather trim and LED fog lamps in place of halogens.

To put that diesel price premium into perspective, Ford adds $3500 to its top-spec Focus Titanium and Volkswagen $2500 to the Golf Highline variant.

If I was buying a small diesel hatch, the XD Astina would be the first one I'd test drive — but the competence of Mazda's companion 2.5-litre petrol mill and the savings I'd pocket would make it a big, big call.

Design

Well-sculpted curves bring the Mazda3's shape up to the best in class.

The sweptback headlamps lead into a flared bonnet, which in turn rolls up to the rounded roof. The effect is to give the Mazda a sporty stance from all directions.

The interior fitout is on a par. The XD Astina shows attention to detail where panels align, uses classy materials in the cabin and has an intuitive seven-inch multimedia screen with a rotary controller between the seats reminiscent of BMW.

Around town 

The 10.7m turning circle is tight enough to navigate most urban streets and the electric steering deftly balances the divide between light weight and reassuring feedback.

The suspension is a highlight. Small potholes and expansion joins tend to be distantly felt, largely because they're dealt with by the low-profile 18-inch rubber rather than the shocks. As the lumps and bumps increase, the Astina rolls on with only little more impact.

On the road

Owners of previous Mazda3s could rightly complain their cars weren't as quiet as the opposition. That's not quite the case now.

Tyre noise is evident on coarse-chip country roads and hard acceleration can elicit some engine noise, but neither of the Astina versions needs much right-foot provocation to hit the posted speed limits, so it won't interrupt conversations for long.

If the engine's acoustics aren't to your liking, a nine-speaker audio will channel your phone's music playlists or web-based tunes from the likes of Pandora and Stitcher.

The cornering is all you'd hope for in a small hatch and isn't affected by having a couple of bodies in the back.

Performance 

In many ways the Astina — XD or SP — masks its potential by omitting the boy-racer body kits found on the likes of a Ford Focus ST. The more restrained visual impact reflects the nature of the cars: they're about getting from A to B efficiently and entertainingly without smoking the tyres or startling the neighbours.

There are many who hope Mazda will build an MPS version to do just that. For now the Astina is top of the Mazda3 tree.

Verdict

The Astina makes an impression as a classy compact car, but the diesel doesn't do enough to justify the 10 per cent premium over the petrol model.

What it's got

There's no need to tick an option box to pick up all of the latest driver aids, from autonomous emergency city-speed braking to lane departure and blind-spot alerts.

What it hasn't 

Face-height vents for the rear passengers and no rear parking sensors are the only notable absences in terms of convenience features.

Ownership

The three-year warranty is industry average, but service intervals are now out to 12 months/10,000km. Put 20,000km on the Astina a year and the capped price servicing will cost $2064; drive 10,000km a year and $1025 will cover the first three visits.

Pricing guides

$18,999
Based on 536 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$13,360
Highest Price
$29,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Maxx 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $10,800 – 15,840 2015 Mazda 3 2015 Maxx Pricing and Specs
Maxx Safety 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $9,900 – 14,850 2015 Mazda 3 2015 Maxx Safety Pricing and Specs
Neo 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,400 – 14,190 2015 Mazda 3 2015 Neo Pricing and Specs
Neo Safety 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $9,900 – 14,960 2015 Mazda 3 2015 Neo Safety Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.