Mazda3 – This is the first car in the range to kick off the brand new generation of cars. It introduces a raft of new technology, and makes a lot of features standard that were previously optional, or only on high grade models.
The 4th generation of Mazda3 continues the tradition of being a small but practical car started by its predecessor, the 323.
There are 2 engines, 2 transmissions and 6 trim levels, all with a high level of technology. It competes head to head with Toyota’s Corolla on the outside, but is a clear winner when it comes to cabin and technology inside.
Models are: G20 – Pure, Evolve, Touring, and G25 Evolve, GT, and Astina. G20 models have 2.0L 4 cylinder engines, and G25 get a 2.5L unit. Neither is turbo charged.
Mazda has taken a different direction to that of other Japanese car makers.
The hatch is the first of 2 body styles. A sedan will follow in the 2nd half of the year.
“Character liners” have been removed. The curvaceous body is smooth and sleek. A lowered bonnet, Auto LED lights, and a blacked out grille look mean and fast. A coupe side profile, and dramatic roofline gives Mazda3 a hot-hatch look.
There are 8 colours for the hatch and 7 in the sedan.
Wheels have been given the blacked out treatment (Astina), and have been shod with tyres designed to reduce road noise. Wheels are 16” on Pure, and 18” on other models.
Further reductions in NVH (noise, vibrations, and harshness) have been gained by adding “nodes” to the body construction. These rubber-like pads inside the frame turn vibration in to heat.
Noise reductions continue in the cabin with upholstery, carpet, and headlining designed to absorb unwanted sound. Holes cut in inner body panels allows extra noise in, so bass speakers have been moved to the footwell in a bespoke speaker box.
Colours have been kept dark and subdued to provide a relaxed ambience. Trim has been pared back in a “less is more” philosophy.
Instruments are angled towards the driver in a cockpit style worthy of a fights jet. All models have an HUD (heads up display) making the traditional instruments largely redundant.
Astina models have leather, and all models have soft-feel surfacing, stich details, and simplified instruments.
Seating follows the “S” curve of the human body to make long trips less tiring.
Cabin lighting applies the same tone and intensity of white light so eyes are not strained, especially at night.
A large landscape mode LCD tablet is placed further back on the dash. It is angled to avoid glare, and to face the driver. It includes standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and is controlled via a revised command centre between the front seats.
The 8.8” LCD screen is not a touch screen. Instead, the menu system can be driven via the command wheel and buttons without having to look where fingers are being placed on the screen.
Cup holders have been moved forward of the gear lever. USB ports are located inside the bin under the armrest.
Steering wheel controls have been redesigned to be more ergonomic, and both the centre armrest, and door armrests are at the same height as each other.
Auto headlights and auto high beam are set on traditional stalks.
Rear legroom is good for a small car but headroom for taller passengers is tight especially in cars with a sunroof. Rear seats fold 60/40, giving the boot a respectable 295L of amount of space.
All Mazda3 models get Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Sound, even on base models, is excellent. GT and Astina gains a 12 speaker Bose system. Speakers have been placed to face passengers rather than reflect off the windscreen.
Bass speakers in the footwell rather than the doors gives clearer low down performance.
The features list is extensive, but here are a few highlights.
Drive and Engine
There are 2 Euro 5, Skyactive-G engines: a 2.0L with 114kw/200Nm and a 2.5L with 139kw/252Nm. They come with either a 6 speed Skyactive-MT manual, or 6 speed Skyactive-Drive automatic.
In addition, the 2.5 has cylinder deactivation which cuts cylinders to save fuel. Fuel consumption ranges around the 6.5L/100K for all versions.
There were no manual models available on the launch programme, with the 2.5L being my pick of the two engines.
MacPherson struts at the front and redesigned Torsion Bar rear ends provide and unbelievably smooth ride. All models have a Sport driving mode.
Electric steering is beautifully weighted. Brakes are progressive and has an autonomous function (AEB).
At some speeds, external noise is almost impossible to detect. Ride is tuned towards comfort but this hasn’t been at the expense of handling.
Hills are dispatched easily, and directional changes were made like a cat on carpet. There was just a hint of body roll, but you move so little in the seat, you feel as if you’ve been glued in to place.
The chassis is incredibly tight and rigid. The hatch weighs between 1,316 for the G20 Evolve Manual to 1,388kg for the Astina automatic.
Radar Cruise Control kept the set speed fairly well, and slowed down as the traffic slowed. Speed signs showed up in the HUD as a cue to flick the control to set the new speed. Once back in town, the queue function took over.
We experienced changes in road surface just like the big sister, the Mazda6, the little hatch just got on with it with no fuss.
I had the tunes through CarPlay while out of DAB range then switched back to radio once closer to town. The audio is sublime.
Active lane assistance is reasonably unobtrusive and applies torque to keep you centered in the lane. It will try to stop you from changing lanes if it sees someone in your blind spot too.
ANCAP rating: not yet tested (5 stars expected)
All Mazda3s have AEB and driver attention alert. Astina adds driver monitoring.
Blind spot monitor flashes in the side mirrors with a secondary warning in the HUD. Forward obstruction warning gains forward cross traffic alert in the Astina.
- Stunning exterior
- Excellent cabin
- Tech and safety
Not so Good bits
- No hot hatch version
- Smallish boot
- Space saver spare
Also Look At
Watch out Golf, Corolla, and Astra.
Mazda3 blitzes the lot for cabin quality. Looks are a matter of taste, I think it wins there too. The drive was incredibly comfortable and you’d almost manage a Sydney/Brisbane drive on a single 51L tank of juice.
Facts and Figures Mazda 3 Next Gen Details
- Engine: 2.0L Skyactiv four-cylinder petrol producing 114kW/200Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed MT or AT
- Warranty: 5 years/ Unlimited km
- Safety: TBA
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $24,990 MLP*
*MLP – Manufacturers List Price includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of any options.