Mazda 3 2007 Review
This time the best selling Mazda 3 gets the treatment, using the same smooth 2.0-litre turbo diesel that can be found in the larger Mazda 6.
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Convertibles with folding hard tops are supposed to remedy all of the problems associated with rag tops. They are more rigid so they handle better, they are more secure and they are quieter. Or so the theory goes.
In reality, not all rag-top problems are remedied by a hard roof and there are some new problems that are added to some models, such as extra weight, complexity of design and operation, reliability of the electro-mechanical opening operation and a reduced amount of cargo space.
Holden's Astra now comes with a two-piece folding top, called the Astra Twin Top. Having just two folding pieces must make it more compact, faster and a simpler mechanism, right? Wrong.
The folding roof mechanism has all sorts of other bits folding out from it and the whole complex shebang takes about 33 seconds to fully open or close. That compares with about 20-odd seconds for most rag tops.
One useful function is that you can open it up with the remote control. However, as with the button above the interior light, you have to hold it on throughout the long process. The operating thumb was pulsing red by the time it was finished. And if you don't keep the pressure up on the button, it stalls.
When the roof is all folded away in the boot, there is only cargo space for a briefcase, although you won't be able to access it unless you put the roof up again.
There were no problems encountered with the mechanism's reliability during the test, but other folding hard tops, as well as rag tops, have been noted as behaving erratically. Also, when the roof was closed, the car sometimes had a lot of creaks, groans and wind noise, while at other times it was fairly quiet and rattle-free. This could be because the various hard bits haven't quite matched up when it has closed. The same problem has been noted with other folding hard tops as well.
At least the added weight in the rear hasn't badly affected handling. Like all Astras, it steers and points very well, without having an uncompromisingly hard ride.
The Twin Top comes with the new German-built 2.2-litre direct injection petrol engine which is a lusty unit with linear power delivery and less of a grainy feel like the previous engine. But it is hampered by the dull and lifeless four-speed auto transmission that GM Holden is stuck with. The six-speed manual is a far better option.
The Twin Top looks like a sleek coupe with the top up, but appears ungainly with the top down.
Inside, it is standard Astra fare, which I have grown to dislike. The decor is fine, but there is a lack of storage space and the controls are fiddly. The only storage bin is a uselessly small square hole behind the handbrake. There are no bottle holders and the door map pocket isn't even big enough for a UBD. I hate cruise controls on the end of a stalk like the previous Commodore. They are difficult to use and if you fumble with it you could accidentally turn on the indicators.
Up front, there is still plenty of space with the sun visors not too close to your head as in most convertibles. However, there is virtually no room in the back for an adult or a teenager. If you did fit in, you would quickly become uncomfortable with the bolt-upright seat back.
Just as well you can use the rear seat as a parcel shelf which augments the lack of cargo space. When the roof is up, the boot is quite deep, but it is also very narrow.
The on-board computer and sound system controls are more difficult to use than the notorious BMW i-Drive system. They are certainly not intuitive. Despite having had several Astras to test over the past couple of years, I always have to consult the handbook and I still haven't conquered it. Some of the buttons have strange symbols on them that mean absolutely nothing to me.
One button on the steering wheel has a symbol that looks like a home phone handset on a set of wheels. I pressed it but it doesn't seem to do anything. Another shows a box with one side missing, a dot in the middle and three arcs radiating out. It changed channels on the radio.
Engine, build quality, handling
Cargo space, controls, noise
Not a fan of any open tops ***
|Convertible||2.2L, PULP, 5 SP MAN||$5,400 – 8,360||2007 Holden Astra 2007 Convertible Pricing and Specs|
|Twin Top||2.2L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$5,600 – 8,690||2007 Holden Astra 2007 Twin Top Pricing and Specs|
|CD||1.8L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$2,200 – 3,850||2007 Holden Astra 2007 CD Pricing and Specs|
|CDTi||1.9L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$3,700 – 6,050||2007 Holden Astra 2007 CDTi Pricing and Specs|