Well with great delight the family is now GM free. Yes in moves initiated a while back we now no longer own our Holden (read Opel) Barina, and instead own a second Mazda 3 Diesel. Yes I can hear you question the logic behind buying a second one but many things lead to a decision, some like a good deal can’t be predicted. But the thing that can be predicted is that if a car is damn good, owning a second one isn’t that hard to justify.
The Mazda 3 is the best selling car in Australia. If you take any fleet sales out, so that means people parting with their own money the Mazda 3 clears the Holden Commodore and the Toyota Corolla by a clear margin. It is easy to see why, they are not an unattractive car, they have plenty of room for a car their size, they have nimble handling and are fun to drive, they are Japanese so immediately more reliable than anything comparable care out of Europe, and once again the Japanese heritage means repairs tend to be cheaper than rival Euro brands.
Previously the family owned a Holden Astra and a Holden Barina, and after over 10 years of ownership it is hard to recommend anything from the Opel (let’s be honest the only thing Holden on these were the badges) stable, in fact I think the reliability matches what I expect of anything from the GM stable. While both cars performed well with spirited engines and good handling, they were maintenance hogs, so much so that I often suspected Alfa Romeo was responsible for parts of their design. Little faults cost a lot to repair but in the Barina’s case major flaws occurred that cost big money. Stuff like that shatters your faith in a car and then you want it gone. So my experience says anything Holden is bad news, they might not have made it themselves but they sourced it, promoted it and then maintained it, so to them I say your cars are crap.
And let me be clear Ford is no better, like Holden they have dished up average cars here in Australia for years and equally have imported cars from Europe that are underwhelming in terms of reliability. My mother owned a Ford Mondeo and after her experiences no thinking person could buy a Euro Ford and not expect a tale of woe.
So why diesel I hear you ask. Both cars use less fuel than the Barina did yet they go like the clappers. The days of diesels being slow is long gone. The Mazda can do 0-100 km/h in around 8-8.5 seconds which isn’t too bad, but while doing that they use very little fuel compared to a comparable performer. But it is in rolling acceleration they excel, doing 70 km/h in third gear the car is pulling around 2400 rpm, see a gap in the traffic, floor it and in a flash you are pulling 100 km/h and braking to avoid a ticket. Going up the Mt Ousley out of Wollongong the diesel motor easily propels it past the speed limit on the climb and under the bridge in 5th gear you are pulling speeds that would see your licence suspended, and it can comfortably keep accelerating.
The reason for this massive performance is torque and a prodigious amount of it. Peak torque is 360 Nm delivered from 1800-2600 rpm. To put that in perspective that is 10 Nm more than a 3.6 L Commodore, it is also 23 Nm than the V6 Toyota Kluger. Now both these cars eclipse the Mazda’s power figure of only 110 kW but as many have said, “Power is for show, torque is for go”. That massive torque that the Mazda diesel has means massive surging performance at the usable part of the rev range. There is no need to rev it’s head off it is flying before then. All this performance in the bottom end leads to lots of fun and it is fun that still sips very little fuel.
So now owning and driving two Mazda 3s it is easy to see how the Mazda 3 is the first imported car since WWI to become the best selling car in Australia. Doubly nice to see a GM product lose the top spot.