I love telling the story of how I was born into a family of Mazda-appreciating, Mazda-loving and Mazda-promoting individuals; one of the brands that I feel particularly akin to, Mazda has sufficiently impressed me with the vehicles I have reviewed in the last few months. Having undoubtedly shaken up their image as a whole, Mazda’s heritage remains strong: with a reputation for designing and producing cars of exceptional practicality over the last century, functionality and reliability, Mazda has made waves with the launch of it’s most recent generation of vehicles which have clearly been a step-up in terms of class, innovation and style.
None more so than the Mazda 3. With a clear shift in focus to now also acknowledge the actual enjoyment of the driving experience, each Mazda I have had the pleasure of driving recently has been incredibly refreshing, magnificently styled and very ergonomically designed. I have the honour of chatting to Leonard Grobbelaar, new Sales Executive at Mazda Germiston, who feels the Mazda 3 is luxurious, sporty and very fuel efficient to boot. With 11 years behind him in this industry, Leonard believes that if his clients are happy, he too will be happy, as he aspires to grow in his position and personal capacity too. Leonard takes the time to note that the Dealership is a great place to be, as everyone works so well together and everything runs smoothly under the management of Dealer Principal Raymond Visagie.
Raymond, who has – amongst his extensive credits – more than twenty-three years of industry experience, and two decades of loyal service to the Mazda brand, has been with the Dealership in Germiston right from the start. He is outspoken about his support for the legacy of the brand, which is founded on a belief in the importance of nurturing relationships. Not only does Raymond believe it is imperative to build solid client-relationships, but he also believes in supporting and investing in the staff at the dealership itself. With most staff at Mazda Germiston already on board for the last five and ten years, this is clearly an environment that stimulates loyalty and commitment. Raymond proudly notes that the people that make up the Mazda team are both the reason for the dealership’s great success, as well as the reason he is so passionate about what he does.
As always, charismatic Sales Manager Devi Ramrattan, who also has many years of experience on hand, welcomes me with warmth and hospitality. Radiating confidence and passion for the products she presents, Devi believes that the high-quality Mazda products speak for themselves. With the incredibly attractive new range of vehicles, Devi feels that Mazda is on the front lines with other leading brands, taking the lead in the value-for-money department, thanks to the release of vehicles with a host of incredible features as standard. Devi believes it is the combination of great service and quality products which has spread around the local community through word of mouth, that has led to the great reputation of Germiston dealership.
Available in five different variants, Leonard note that this includes the 1.6 litre Original Active and Dynamic variants, as well as the 2 Litre Indiviual, Astina and Astina Plus: my subject for this review is the Mazda 3 Astina Plus, a great-looking hatchback that has an arresting presence right from the outset. The vehicle itself gives that glorious long-nose elegance of a classic sedan, whilst boasting the sporty short rear of the hatch, with cheekily-styled rear lights and the modern clean lines that hint at the innovative technology under the hood. I love that the new deep grille announces the arrival of the new Mazda range from a distance, as well as linking the various new models to each other, which gives me such joy to see on the road in the classic ruby red.
The interior is no less impressive – all-leather interior with superb quality finishes are accentuated by a concise and uncluttered layout: the heads-up display is organised with a 7-inch screen that pops up on start-up which can be operated by touchscreen or a convenient knob on the centre console. With 2 USB ports, on-board navigation, blind spot monitoring and rear park assist (to name but a few), the Mazda 3 is feature-packed from even the entry level variants, and offers more than any other hatch on the road. I must add that in previous models, the Mazda always came across as a little bland – there has clearly been an improvement in quality of materials used and the desire to create a high-end, premium feel has been quite successful in my opinion. Additionally, there is sufficient boot space for a hatch back and adequate leg room in both the front and rear (although the middle seat in the back is a little tight, especially for adults).
The Mazda 3 offers a great driving experience, with smooth handling and the great response from a naturally aspirated 2 litre engine, which provides enough of a kick for me to give a cheeky nod to the hot rods at the robots, but still cruise down the highway in comfort and unhurried style. At 121 kW and 210 Nm torque, this Hatchback averages about 5.9 litres per 100kilometres, which is attributed to the combination of class-leading compression ratios, new transmissions and lightweight design (summarised in the Mazda Skyactiv technology system). I love the fact that Mazda hasn’t simply slapped a turbocharger on their new cars, but instead found others ways of maximising output whilst optimising efficiency. The Astina Plus also boasts 7 airbags, which is always important to me as a family woman, and a host of extra features which include cruise control, smart city brakes, hill assist, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and a great sunroof, to name but a few.
Back at the Dealership, I am also reminded of their excellent workshop and parts department which services local sales points as well. The team at this dealership showed great hospitality and were most accommodating during my time there, reminding me that the brand’s reputation of reliability and service excellence is well deserved.
Journalist: Desh Bechan
Reporter: Inge Stols
Editor: Belinda Anderson