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Vehicle Review: Mazda3 Astina 2.0 Auto

As a motorist, there’s nothing more comforting than knowing that you’re safely ensconced in a car that takes passenger safety seriously. Especially when that car is as good looking as the new-look Mazda3 2.0 Astina Plus Auto! And we had the privilege of being ensconced in this beauty on a recent road-trip down the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. By Tessa Buhrmann.

In keeping with Mazda’s KODO design language, the Mazda3 Astina looks and feels beautiful. It is a hatchback with style – its coupe-like stance, sleek sporty lines and classy interior with sport-style seats, heads-up display, cruise-control and paddle-shift – all combine to ensure a great road-trip. And it has a reverse camera.

With my hubby happily taking charge of the wheel I soon had our mobile connectivity sorted and our destination entered using the MZD connectivity system with its Bluetooth, navigation system and 7” touchscreen. Mazda’s SKYACTIV Technology ensured that the Astina delivered an exciting and responsive drive that was agile and handled well (and yes, I managed to wrestle my hubby out of the driver’s seat a couple of times).  The 2.0L engine with its 6-speed automatic gearbox certainly delivered on both performance and economy, with our road trip averaging 7.0L/100km.

But for me, it was the super-cool ‘intelligent’ safety features that stood out. I loved that the car has ‘Smart City Brake Support’ (a system to detect the risk of collisions at low speeds and great for traffic situations) and Blind Spot Monitoring – you can’t but help notice the warning that flashes on the head-up display and wing mirror.

And then there’s the Adaptive LED Headlights that recognise leading and oncoming cars and turn off selected LEDs to avoid blinding other drivers… and when driving at low speeds the wide-range low beam expands to increase driver visibility! The Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist alert the driver when there is an ‘unintentional lane departure’ – the cool thing is that when accompanied by acceleration or turn signal operation it recognises the move as intentional.

One really useful safety feature when on a long road-trip is the Driver Attention Alert which is designed to reduce accidents caused by ‘inattentiveness due to driver fatigue’. The system, which is activated at speeds above 65 km/h, begins to “learn” the driver’s habits, watching inputs and the vehicle’s movements in the early stages of a journey. Later, if the system detects changes in vehicle behaviour suggesting that the driver may be losing concentration, it will advise a rest stop by sounding a chime and displaying a warning in the information system. Like I said, one seriously intelligent car!

We certainly found the Mazda3 Astina a fun car to drive and in addition to being really good to look at, it is pretty robust too – surviving one of the South Coast’s infamous potholes really well, with not even a flat tyre.

About the author: Tourism Tattler correspondent Tessa Buhrmann is the editor of Responsible Traveller magazine. www.responsibletraveller.co.za

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