Tag Archives: Mazda

2018 mazda cx-3 ireland

2018 Mazda CX-3 – New Car Review Ireland

My parents are in the market for a new car. The car they’re replacing? A 2.0TDI 2008 Audi A4. But, along with the rest of Ireland, they are being persuaded towards a compact SUV. The compact SUV in question? The 2018 Mazda CX-3. As we know the crossover market, particularly in Ireland, is overcrowded. Can the Mazda CX-3 cut the mustard?

2018 mazda cx-3 ireland front

It’s no secret that I think Mazda is a hugely under-rated brand, especially for their design efforts. The CX-3, along with the rest of the line-up, has the magic touch of KODO design. This is Mazda’s design language which makes all of its cars seem a more grown-up than they actually are. The 2018 Mazda CX-3 measures just 4.2m in length but the wide face with indented grill makes it look a lot larger and more full than it is.

2018 mazda cx-3 ireland front

The compactness of the CX-3 plays in its favour in terms of driving but not for the interior, from the rear passengers point of view anyway. For once, I had a lot of back seat time in the Mazda CX-3 as the ‘rents chauffeured me around. Head room is good for someone like me, 6 foot-ish, but leg room was not on my side. Up front, it’s a typical Mazda affair. Mazda’s infotainment, Mazda Connect, s in full swing with Bluetooth connectivity and sat nav. The iDrive-esque system is easy to use but I think the CX-3 could be the complete package if they offered Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. As you might have gathered from some of my other reviews, brown leather wins every… single… time! So, thank you Mazda Ireland for the comfortable brown leather and alcantara supportive seats.

2018 mazda cx-3 ireland interior

As for the drive, I honestly already had it in my head that the Mazda would drive well. Every Mazda product I have driven before has not disappointed – from the Mazda MX-5 all the way to the 2018 Mazda CX-5. If I was to describe the CX-3’s drive in one word it would be tight. The 6-speed manual’s notchy gearshift compliments the weighty and precise steering well.

Although you might expect a car like this to have vague steering, you point the CX-3 in the right direction and it will bring you there. The 2.0 petrol’s song sounds familiar to the MX-5. It is surprisingly raspy. The naturally aspirated 2.0 petrol produces just 120hp and 204Nm but never did I feel as if the crossover was underpowered. On the motorway, it isn’t the cream of the crop when it comes to steadiness but I couldn’t see a long journey to Cork, which my parents would regularly do, being much of a chore. The cabin is also quiet so don’t expect to arrive fatigued. As for boot space, it is 350 litres which is down 80l on the 2018 Nissan Qashqai and almost on par with the 2018 Opel Mokka X.

2018 mazda cx-3 ireland back

The petrol engine returned an average score of 7.4l/100km throughout my 10 days with the car. The SUV covered almost 500km between my parents and I.

So the burning question – Did my parents like it enough to buy? Well put it this way, my Dad has been on Mazda.ie speccing up CX-3s ever since I handed it back. Yes, I would like the Mazda CX-3 to have a better infotainment or possibly more power from the 2.0 petrol if I found myself in the situation of a good hoon. However, my parents don’t need or want either of them. There is the right level of luxury and comfort there for them to enjoy without spending money they don’t have. All €28,595 and brown leatherness of the CX-3 is 100% worth it.

2018 mazda cx-3 ireland rear

Mazda Mx-5 front

Mazda MX-5 – Review

The Mazda MX-5, the Mazda Miata or the Mazda Eunos Roadster – An iconic Japanese roadster that has made its mark globally is now in its fourth generation. I had spent a little bit of time with the car last Summer with CBG in Ireland on a photoshoot . When I drove it, it was exactly what I had expected – a lightweight, open top, effortless car that is cheap. So now that I am both in Chicago and it has been a year since I last drove it, do I feel the same way? Or a better question, should it be overlooked now that the Mazda MX-5 RF is available?

Mazda Mx-5 front

Japanese Architecture Meets Japanese Engineering

For anyone who is interested in architecture will be familiar with the name Frank Lloyd Wright and his most well-known work, Falling Water. Wright began his career in the suburbs of Chicago so it was a no brainer that I had to visit Oak Park. Wright is known for his eccentric yet modern, simplistic houses constructed between 1889 and 1959. He spent some time living in Japan where he brought back some design ideas from the temples which can be seen on some of his work in Oak Park.

Mazda Mx-5 front

Similarities between the MX-5’s KODO design and Wright’s clear and crisp straight lined architecture lines can be seen. The MX-5’s squinty headlights don’t pay homage to the MK1 (NA) MX-5 that we all know and love with its innocent pop-up headlights. Nor do the rear angular lights represent the NA’s ones in all their oval-ness. No, the ND MX-5 is one that is completely new, unseen in today’s automotive world. Nowadays, we settle for the newer model of cars. The BMW 3-Series, for example. The new one is just a slightly different rendition of the previous generation one. This tactic makes previous-gen owners feel like they haven’t been cheated but new-gen buyers feel like they are getting a totally new car. Something in which Frank Lloyd Wright wouldn’t have approved.

Mazda Mx-5 rear

Even from the cabin, looking out over the bonnet the car gives a sense of purpose and presence. What, with the bonnet bulges each side giving it a sense of length. It reminds me of the Triumph TR6. Inside, you begin to see the budgeting side of the MX-5. There are cheap plastics making up the dash, A-pillar, centre console and the cubby hole between the driver and passenger. The leather seats are held together with contrasting red stitching, a familiar sight in Mazda cars. The infotainment system does the job. Mazda still hasn’t found out about Apple CarPlay or Android Auto just yet in the MX-5 but phone connectivity is easily done.

Mazda Mx-5 interior

Out On The Mother Road

But the Mazda MX-5 is best known from the moment the key is turned, or rather from the moment the Start/Stop button is pushed in the ND’s case. The four-cylinder 2.0 155hp engine bursts into life. How do you know? The gear stick vibrates with purpose and the twin-exhausts shout from a stand-still. The sound from the exhaust, is an interesting one. There is no burble or particular song from them. More just, a sound. A sound to let you know that there is an engine there ready to be worked to every inch of the tachometre.

Mazda Mx-5 side

Illinois isn’t known for its great driving roads or iconic S bends. But none the less, I was determined to have fun. So much so, that I met up with the Windy City Miata Club (WCMC)  – A car club dedicated to the appreciation for the small British-esque roadster. But what Illinois, more so Chicago, is known for is The Mother Road. Yep, I was going to take on a whopping 50miles of the 2,451miles of Route 66 with my fellow MX-5ers. This is when I truly fell for the Mazda MX-5. My father and I are Triumph TR6 owners so I understand the sense of obsession around a particular brand or model of car. Each Mazda MX-5 owner from the WCMC had a passion for the roadster and an urgency to keep them on the road. From the 1989 NA all the way up to mine, a 2017 ND, they were each appreciated with no disregard. With an automatic gearbox or manual. Stock or modified.

Mazda Mx-5 front

It’s in the news every day that electric cars are going to take over and that the petrol engine will be dead and gone. But I have no doubt Mazda will be able to pull off the MX-5 for another 28 years. Its iconic design, the way it drives and the fact that it costs from €27,995 makes it so desirable. Frank Lloyd Wright would have been proud to see his iconic home being complimented by something even more iconic, the Mazda MX-5.

Mazda3 Grand Touring Front

Road Trip: Mazda3 Grand Touring

Based on my last piece, I want to make the most out of my time in the USA and there is no better way of doing that than road trips. Road tripping is a broad term and usually means spending long periods of time, usually days or weeks, in a car exploring a country or area. But I am re-defining the road trip with short day trips consisting of a couple of hundred miles. What is my latest travel companion? The 2017 Mazda3.

Mazda3 Grand Touring Front

Model Tested: Mazda3 Saloon/Sedan Grand Touring.
Engine: 2.5 Petrol – 184hp and 251Nm.
Transmission: 6-Speed manual, front wheel drive.
Price: Prices for the Mazda3 range start at $17,845. Price as tested – $26,880. Irish prices start at €23,295.
Economy: Average; 31.1mpg or 7.6l/100km.

Recently I was given the keys to a unique car, by USA standards anyway; a Mazda3 4-door with a manual ‘box. A high percentage of cars here in the US are automatic with the exception of the older/vintage vehicles. So to say I was relieved that I had a manual to drive for the week would be an understatement.

Mazda3 Grand Touring Rear

The Mazda3 replaced the Mazda 323 in 2003 and is available in two variants; the Mazda3 Hatchback and Mazda3 Saloon. Although for the US market, they are the Mazda3 4-door and Mazda3 5-door.  The Mazda3 has just gone through a minor makeover giving the face a fresh look. One thing I love about cars in America is that in most states it is not obligatory to wear a front registration plate. In my case, the Californian regged Mazda3 did not have a front plate meaning the face could be fully appreciated. Mazda’s KODO design is right on par at the moment, in my opinion. Even the Mazda2, its baby model, has a strong, mature look to it.

Mazda3 Grand Touring Front

The Mazda3 I had was painted in Eternal Blue Mica with Parchment cream leather interior. Once stepping inside, it is all familiar with the exception of the steering wheel being on the “wrong side”.

Mazda3 Grand Touring Interior


Thankfully, I have driven left-hand drive cars before so it did not take me long to adjust to having to shift gears with my right hand. So much so that I dread the day I get back in Archie and have to re-adjust to my normal driving style. Although, what was not as easy to get used to were the road rules. The one thing I still am unsure of is being able to turn right on a red light. What makes it even more confusing is, you are allowed to turn right but at the same time pedestrians also have a green light to cross. So you must give them the right of way, which I do. But, I have had the misfortune of almost being mowed down by a Jeep Grand Cherokee who dis-obeyed this.

Mazda3 Grand Touring Manual

In light of this, I decided I needed to get out of the hustle and bustle of Chicago. I jumped back onto the I-94 and headed towards a national park called Silver Springs State Park. How did I find it? Zoomed out on Google Maps and pointed to a random part of the map; the only way to explore! After roughly 45 minutes on the Interstate; my exit was coming up. But of course I had Bastille cranked up at full volume on the Bose sound system and was wailing out-of-tune to Weight of Living as I noticed my exit pass. I figured I could just take the next exit, no problems. Thankfully the Sat Nav re-routed me to the next exit off the Interstate; which was another 20 miles away and had added an extra hour onto my journey. Not being able to do anything about this, I went back to my out of tune singing.

Mazda3 Grand Touring Bose

Eventually I came upon my exit. Seeing as I was already a good 40 miles away from my desired destination, I figured I would get myself completely lost on purpose. The Sat Nav tells me to turn left; I turned right. Shortly after riding down some dusty, gravely so-called roads, I stumbled upon a small sleepy town called Newark. What caught my eye in Newark were several cars rusting away on an old mechanics forecourt. Said cars were a Jaguar XJ6, a Fox-Body Ford Mustang, Plymouth Valiant and another  un-identifiable, to me, Jaguar peeking from under a large piece of tarp. Newark is your typical little back-arse-of-no-where town; retirees knocking around in golf carts and a corner diner/pub creating the sense of buzz.

Jaguar XJ6 and Plymouth Valiant


After leaving Newark, I went in search of Silver Springs again. I found myself venturing down gravel roads, passing by corn fields and even vineyards. This is what I left the city for. The Mazda3 could not have been a better companion. The 2.5 4-cylinder performed well on the back roads and the 6-speed manual added an ounce of excitement to the adventure. Eventually I arrived at Silver Springs. I took a quick look around the river and got straight back in the car. I came to drive, really. I couldn’t get enough of the freedom. I couldn’t get enough of being free of Chicago’s busyness.

Mazda3 Grand Touring SkyActiv

The Mazda3 Grand Touring Manual – The perfect exploration companion.