The current-generation Mazda 3 sedan and hatch range this week received its first significant update since launch in January 2014, bringing minor cosmetic changes outside and in, along with significant improvements in active safety and dynamism.

New Mazda3 Astina hatch (11)

As before, the Mazda 3 range is available in Neo, Maxx, Touring, SP25, SP25 GT and SP25 Astina variants, all in hatch and sedan body-styles. Engines are 2.0-litre or 2.5-litre petrols, matched to either six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. As we know, the slow-selling and expensive Astina diesel has been axed.

New Mazda3 Astina sedan (14)

Headlining the mid-life update is a subtle redesign at the front including a deeper grille, plus LED fog lights for all derivatives bar the base Neo. All versions also now get electric folding door mirrors, which are automatic on the Touring and above.

Additionally, SP25, GT and Astina variants get new alloy wheel designs, while the latter pair also get LED headlights with daytime running lights. Other versions retain halogens, but get a new design.

New Mazda3 Astina sedan (18)

Inside the cabin are simpler instruments and a new steering wheel, while the USB inputs are shifted to the centre console. The GT and Astina come with a colour heads-up display, while the MZD Connect infotainment system on the Maxx and above has a new screen with standard DAB+ digital radio. Touring and above get an electric park brake, liberating storage.

The base Neo, which has been the volume-seller traditionally (35 per cent of sales, compared to 30 per cent for the Maxx, 10 per cent for the Touring/SP25/SP25 GT and 5 per cent for the Astina), still doesn’t have a touchscreen or reversing camera (it's a $650 accessory, in the rear-view mirror). All other versions get sat-nav.

New Mazda3 Neo sedan (15)

All versions also now come with autonomous low-speed braking, which Mazda calls Smart City Brake Support (SCBS). All variants above the Neo (Maxx and up) also come with SCBS in reverse, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Higher grades also get the CX-5’s Driver Attention Alert and Lane-Keep Assist functions. These were mostly optional before.

Additionally, Traffic Sign Recognition makes its Mazda premiere in Australia, as does the company’s new G-Vectoring Control system that detects steering inputs and then uses that resulting data to cut torque to the wheels.

New Mazda3 Astina hatch (6)

That cut in torque delivery then shifts the weight ever so slightly forward over the front wheels, which in theory has the same effect as lifting off the throttle as you might do on a racetrack. Read our more detailed stories on this technology here.

Dynamically, Mazda claims to have improved the straight-line stability, tyre grip and ride comfort by also tweaking the springs, dampers and stabilisers. Mazda also claims to have addressed a key area of concern on the pre-update 3 range — noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.

New Mazda3 Maxx hatch (14)

Finally, three new colours are available: Machine Grey Metallic, Sonic Silver Metallic and Eternal Blue Mica. Prices across variants from Maxx and above have climbed up by a few hundred dollars, but compared to old models with the then-optional Safety Pack, prices are actually down in like-for-like terms.

Over the course of its life-cycle, the Mazda 3 has averaged 3350 sales per month. Sales are down 1.7 per cent this year, though, as sales have remained behind the Toyota Corolla, and dipped below the new class-leader — the heavily discounted Hyundai i30. Mazda projects a monthly sales average over the next year of 3200 units.

New Mazda3 Neo sedan (6)

Mazda expects the Maxx to account for 40 per cent of sales, the Neo 30 per cent, the SP25 to make up 15 per cent, the Touring and SP25 both 10 per cent, and the Astina 5 per cent.

2016 Mazda 3 pricing for sedan and hatch (plus on-road costs):

Neo manual $20,490

Neo auto $22,490

Maxx manual $22,890 (+500)

Maxx auto $24,890 (+500)

Touring manual $25,290 (+500)

Touring auto $27,290 (+500)

SP25 manual $25,690 (+500)

SP25 auto $27,690 (+500)

SP25 GT manual $29,990 (+200)

SP25 GT auto $31,990 (+200)

SP25 Astina manual $33,490 (-$1550)

SP25 Astina auto $35,490 (-$1550)

Mazda 3 Neo equipment (new in bold):

  • 2.0-litre petrol engine
  • 114kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4000rpm
  • Six-speed manual or six-speed auto ($2000 extra)

16-inch alloy wheels

Electric folding mirrors (body coloured)

Drive selection switch

Rear spoiler (hatch only)

Black cloth


Cruise control

Tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel

AM/FM tuner and four speakers


Steering wheel-mounted audio controls

Push-button engine start

Six airbags

ISOFIX child restraint anchor points and top tethers

Rear parking sensors

G-Vectoring Control

Smart City Brake Support — forward

Mazda 3 Maxx equipment (above the Neo)

  • 2.0-litre petrol engine
  • 114kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4000rpm
  • Six-speed manual or six-speed auto ($2000 extra)

LED fog-lights

Power mirrors (body-coloured, auto-folding)

Leather-wrapped gear shift knob, handbrake handle and steering wheel

Paddle shifters

7.0-inch full colour touchscreen display with MZD Connect dial

Audio system with six speakers

Internet radio integration (Pandora, Stitcher and Aha)

Digital radio (DAB+)


Reversing camera

Blind Spot Monitoring

Rear Cross Traffic Alert

Rear-view mirror with auto-dimming function

Smart City Brake Support — reverse

Mazda 3 Touring equipment (above the Maxx)

  • 2.0-litre petrol engine
  • 114kW at 6000rpm and 200Nm at 4000rpm
  • Six-speed manual or six-speed auto ($2000 extra)

Auto on/off headlights

Rain-sensing wipers

Leather trim

Dual-zone climate control

Overhead sunglass storage box

Electric park brake

Mazda 3 SP25 equipment (above the Maxx)

  • 2.5-litre petrol engine
  • 138kW at 5700rpm and 250Nm at 3250rpm
  • Six-speed manual or six-speed auto ($2000 extra)

18-inch alloy wheels

Auto on/off headlights

Rear spoiler

Rain-sensing wipers

Dual-zone climate control

Advanced keyless entry

Electric park brake

Mazda 3 SP25 GT equipment (above the SP25)

  • 2.5-litre petrol engine
  • 138kW at 5700rpm and 250Nm at 3250rpm
  • Six-speed manual or six-speed auto ($2000 extra)

LED daytime running lights

LED headlights

Power heated mirrors

Leather seats with six-way power adjust and heating

Active Driving Display (HUD)

Rear-view mirror with auto-dimming function

Premium Bose 231-watt amplifier and nine speakers

Traffic Sign Recognition

Driver Attention Alert

Mazda 3 SP25 Astina equipment (above the SP25 GT)

  • 2.5-litre petrol engine
  • 138kW at 5700rpm and 250Nm at 3250rpm
  • Six-speed manual or six-speed auto ($2000 extra)

Electric sunroof

Adaptive LED headlights

Higher-speed autonomous braking

Bright-finish 18-inch wheels

10-way power adjustment for the heated seats

Radar cruise control

Lane-keep assist