Friday, November 29, 2013

Mazda 3 hybrid review

Mazda has finally joined the growing list of brands to offer hybrid power. The new Mazda3 hybrid sedan uses the same electric drive motor and battery pack technology as Toyota, thanks to a tie-up between the two Japanese brands. The Mazda3 hybrid is a Japan-only model for now but it is under consideration for Australia.
Mazda has concentrated on its Skyactiv technology recently, which has proved very effective in cutting emissions and improving fuel economy.
It has never ruled out a hybrid, though it has sometimes given the impression it would rather stick with straightforward internal combustion engines refined further.
However, now Mazda has not only launched a hybrid model in its domestic market, it has also come up with a range extender (RE) model based on the Mazda2.
Although the power outputs of the petrol engines in the Toyota Prius and the Mazda3 hybrid sedan are eerily similar, Mazda uses its own super-efficient “Skyactiv” 2.0-litre petrol engine (albeit detuned), which has the highest compression ratio in the automotive world.
As with the Prius, the Mazda3 can travel up to 2km on electric power alone when driven in ideal conditions.
In practice, however, the electric motor serves as a means to boost acceleration up to 40km/h before the petrol engine takes over.
The battery pack is recharged on the move, when the car is travelling downhill or when the brakes are applied.
There is no plug-in version of the Mazda3 available (the plug-in version of the Toyota Prius sold in Japan and North America can travel 20km on battery power before switching to the petrol engine) but the technology would be easily adapted to future models.
Based on the Toyota Prius, the 2014 Mazda Axela Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine together with an electric motor. It is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), while Mazda claims that it consumes 30.8 km/l (3.2L/100 km) using the JC08 driving cycle. That equates to 0.4 km/l more than the Toyota Prius which is based on.
The trunk is significantly smaller than the standard Mazda Axela (Mazda 3 in other markets) due to the accommodation of the battery pack.
Set to go on sale next month (November 21 2013), the Mazda Axela Hybrid costs 2,373,000 yen (taxes included). Mazda Japan intends to sell 3,000 units of the Axela Hybrid per month.
But the Mazda3 range starts at the equivalent of $24,800 in Japan; in Australia it kicks off at $20,990. Yes, an Australian new-car price that’s cheaper for once
Using that as a guide, the starting price of the Mazda3 hybrid should land comfortably less than $30,000 in Australia, undercutting the main rivals.
The Toyota Prius hatch starts at $33,990 while the locally made Toyota Camry hybrid sedan costs from $34,990.