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Review – Mazda 3 2.0 e-SkyActiv-X 186 (2022)

July 29, 2022

Turbo? No you don’t.

An unblown 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, where do we find one today? At least in this Mazda 3. In a way, Mazda is swimming against the tide with this in Europe, since the majority of automakers, on the contrary, only supply turbocharged engines. Not without reason, because not only does a turbocharged engine offer fast torque at low revs, a turbo also offers the possibility of using a smaller displacement. This in turn should improve efficiency. But Mazda should have none of it.

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No, Mazda does it in its own way. By using the M-Hybrid system with a 24V lithium-ion battery, among other things, Mazda manages to reduce consumption. Thus, the car is a mild-hybrid that uses an integrated starter generator. It stores the energy created during braking and uses it to power the car’s electrical systems.

How does e-SkyActiv-X work?

But even more interesting is the way the engine works. The e-SkyActiv-X is actually a gasoline engine with the characteristics of a diesel engine. Mazda calls the technology SPCCI, which stands for Spark Controlled Compression Ignition. Without getting too technical, it works roughly as follows: a small amount of fuel is compressed with lots of air under extremely high pressure. A spark ignites things into a small explosion rather than a large flame as is the case with gasoline engines. After the explosion, the pressure and temperature rises causing the compression ignition as in a diesel to cause the fuel mixture to ignite in a large explosion. The engine thus combines the best of both worlds.

This engine is not new, as we already drove the earlier generation of the engine. The further development in our test car resulted in an output of 186 hp and 240 Nm and a consumption of 5.2 l/100 km with CO2 emissions of only 118 g/km. For comparison, a Volkswagen Golf 1.5 eTSI with 150 hp does 5.7 l/100 km with emissions of 129 g/km.

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How does it drive?

Is it also as economical as Mazda claims? The answer to that is yes and no. On the highway, the car is really very economical. Before driving off, we first reset the trip computer and with no real focus on fuel economy – a nice driveway remains attractive – we achieved a consumption of 4.9 l/100 km. Not bad! In the city, where you have to deal with braking and accelerating or when you keep the right foot down for a longer time, it is done with those nice figures. Despite this, the factory specification is certainly achievable and it never becomes un-economical.

The driving characteristics of the Mazda 3

Once on the road, one notices that the Mazda 3 is actually a car that is tangled up with itself. We explain. The suspension is excellent: tightly sprung, but not uncomfortable. Mazda also got the balance right. It may be going a bit far to compare the balance of the 3 to a rear-wheel drive, but the hatchback comes awfully close. The controls are light, but always hit. Moreover, you can send the Japanese a message when it comes to building a tasty six-speed transmission, because the thing shifts fantastically. The sporty feel is complemented by the low seat position and a handlebar that can be pulled nice and far towards you. Something I personally always get excited about: a gas pedal attached to the floor. So far so good.

The last thing that could make the party complete is the engine, but it seems to be the only absentee. So on paper, the the atmospheric four-cylinder delivers 186 hp, and while we believe it’s all there – because it’s fast enough – it doesn’t always feel that way. No, it’s in a piece of perception. An experience that would fit so well with the suspension, handling, transmission and overall sporty feel the 3 gives. This is, of course, unfortunate.

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The design of the Mazda 3

The Mazda 3 is a handsome machine. Personally, I am very fond of ‘Soul Red’, but this ‘Platinum Quartz’ as a body color looks very good on it. Especially when combined with the black 18-inch alloy wheels and the other high-gloss black accents such as the grille, roof spoiler and headlight housing. Very chic execution like this!

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Interior of the Mazda 3

Inside the Mazda is an excellent place to stay, truly a plus of this car. The seats are top-notch, although taller people may lack some support for their upper legs. The dashboard has beautiful lines and looks minimalistic, while everything you need is within easy reach. Beautiful materials have been used and everything sticks together well. It rubs up against premium, although the Japanese don’t put that term in their own mouths.

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An 8.8-inch TFT color display can be found on top of the dashboard. Completely against all trends of touch-sensitive screens, the multimedia system is operated by means of a controller on the center console. It works very well. It looks like a copy of BMW’s iDrive, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. The system is fast at calculating routes, zooming in and out of the map and linking devices. Pairing your smartphone is easy with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Among other things, the Head-up Display provides navigation instructions, displays applicable road signs and indicates your own speed.

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In the back of the Mazda 3

In the back, the Mazda 3 is not the roomiest, but for short periods of time, you can easily accommodate three adults. With 300 liters, luggage space has never been a strong point of the Mazda 3, partly because of its sloping roofline. The hefty C-pillar looks dynamic from the outside, but is far from ideal for blind spots.

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Mazda 3 2.0 e-SkyActiv-X 186 prices

Prices for the Mazda 3 with the fuel-efficient 2.0 e-SkyActiv-X with 186 hp start at 31,490 euros. For this, you get the basic equipment that includes 16-inch wheels and cloth upholstery. The infotainment system with 8.8-inch display is standard with every Mazda 3 2.0 e-SkyActiv-X 186. Other versions are Comfort (from 33,990 euros) and Luxury (from 37,490 euros). The latter is also what our test car was equipped with. The test car cost 37,900 euros, partly because the sliding/tilting roof and the color Platinum Quarz were ticked, among other things. The test car also features the I-ACTIVSENSE package with safety features such as Front and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Smart City Brake Support Rear, 360° View Monitor, Driver Attention Alert and Cruise & Traffic Support. Visit Mazda’ s website for all the information on the 3.


Mazda knows very well how to build a fine car. The Mazda 3 2.0 e-SkyActiv-X 186 is no exception either. And we have to be honest, for most people the car meets all the needs. But where the car is very convincing with its consumption performance, it is a pity that the engine lacks a bit of punch. An eager engine is what the car deserves, as the suspension, balance and handling are of a high standard.

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