It’s rare to find the design of a sedan more appealing than its hatch equivalent, but it can be true when it comes to the Mazda 3. Of course, everyone has different taste, but let’s face it, the Mazda 3 hatch has been polarising since its release in 2019, with its droopy rear and large C-pillar.
Unlike the smaller Mazda 2 and previous-generation Toyota Yaris sedans, they look chunky and the boot almost appears ‘tacked’ on, but with the bigger Mazda 3 sedan, the boot flows beautifully with the sleek bodywork.
We have the 2020 Mazda 3 G25 Astina sedan here, which sits at the top of the range, and is priced from $38,240 before on-road costs. It features a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Over the lower G25 GT variant, the Astina receives LED daytime-running lights, adaptive LED headlights, a sunroof, a 360-degree camera, cruising and traffic support (for enhanced low-speed autonomous capabilities), camera-based driver monitoring, front cross-traffic alert, and front parking sensors.
It’s packed with standard features, like blind-spot monitoring, driver-attention alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist system, front and rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, reverse camera, smart brake support, and traffic sign recognition. The only feature you can option is premium paint, with Machine Grey on this car (or available Soul Red Crystal) costing $495.
The paint is complemented nicely with the pure white leather interior, which amazingly comes at no extra cost, yet adds a nice premiumness to the car over the black. The general quality of the cabin is impressive, and you’d struggle to find any hard plastics around the door trim and centre console.
Even the side of the central console where the driver's left leg rests is padded. All the buttons and rotary dial for the infotainment feel and sound European when pressed, and the indicators have a strange yet soft sound to them.
However, the placement of the dual-zone climate-control buttons could’ve been better. They sit almost flat, and as they are black with minimalist labelling, they are hard to see during the day.
Clean freaks will be pleased to know there isn’t white trim on any of the main touchpoints on the door, such as the pull handle or elbow rests, so the doors will remain relatively clean. It’s just the seats you’ll need to worry about, which, by the way, are heated, as is the steering wheel.
Considering there is a sunroof, head room is quite good. Storage is plentiful, where you can fit two small bottles in the door, there are two cupholders, a flip-down compartment on the driver’s side for spare change, a sunglasses holder, one map pocket, and the central armrest (which can slide) that isn’t exactly deep, but is long. It also has a removable plastic divider, a 12-volt, and USB, but no AUX. There is also another USB near the open phone tray.
Some niceties are a head-up display, LED cabin lighting, and frameless rear-view mirror. The infotainment system on an 8.8-inch screen is very clear and responsive, making for a huge improvement on the previous MZD Connect, which looked and felt outdated. But Mazda has retired touchscreen functionality for this model, requiring inputs via the console controller instead.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard if you don’t wish to use the in-built satellite navigation, and connecting Bluetooth for the first time and importing contacts took a swift 18 seconds. The premium Bose stereo system with 12 speakers pumps out a pretty good sound, too.
Heading into the second row, the cabin quality doesn’t differ from the front, with the same lovely padding on the door trim. Leg room isn’t as roomy as the Toyota Corolla sedan, but the head room is better.
Toe room is okay, and you’ll need it, as the floor is quite high and adults will need that room to stretch their legs out. Rear air vents with adjustable fan speed are included, along with a fold-down armrest that stores two cupholders. Two coat hooks can hold your dress or coat. The seats fold 60:40.
"So, exactly how much more boot am I getting if I go with the sedan version?" Glad you asked. An extra 149L over the Mazda 3 hatch, which adds up to 444L. The boot space is very long, and the opening is wide enough to easily squeeze in a large suitcase. A 16-inch space-saver wheel is under the boot floor, the Bose subwoofer is installed on the boot ceiling, and a pulldown handle prevents dirty hands. However, it is lacking in features, namely, a bright LED interior light (a dim halogen light is installed), tie-down hooks, and side storage compartments.
The driving position is low and sporty, which will please some, including this driver. With 138kW and 252Nm, the 2.5-litre engine is perfectly punchy for this car, exclusively sending power to the front wheels. It feels torquey, giving you the confidence for that quick overtake on a highway, or to get into that tight gap in the city. The six-speed SkyActiv-Drive auto transmission seemed a bit confused at times, not quite knowing which gear it wanted in slow-moving traffic, but the gear changes when getting it on the move were quick in response.
Mazda's iStop system, which turns the car off momentarily while you are stationary in traffic, is a bit rattly when starting up, but you don’t feel it as much when it stops. There is the manual mode and Sport driving mode, which holds the gears in higher revs, so unless you want to see the fuel usage rise, it doesn’t add a sporty experience to the car. Speaking of, we got a higher fuel reading of 8.2L/100km over the official claimed combined reading of 6.5L/100km, with the majority of its driving being in peak-hour city traffic. It takes a minimum 91RON to fill up the 51L fuel tank.
The chassis feels stiff, which means you can push it through corners at pace, meanwhile, the 18-inch alloy wheels can feel the bumps and ruts in the road a fair bit, but the suspension handles speed humps well. Road noise suppression is fantastic, and you’ll find it a pleasant experience on the freeway. The vibration through the steering wheel for lane-departure assist is very noticeable, and would be enough to alert you quick-smart if you found yourself drifting.
The reversing camera quality is very clear, and is such an improvement on the previous system. However, it is let down by the 360-degree camera, which is almost useless as the images are stretched.
SRS airbags can be found for the driver and passenger, knee airbag for the driver, the front side, and curtain airbags for the front and rear. Child restraint anchor points include two ISOFIX points and three top tethers. All variants of the Mazda 3 were tested in 2019 and received a five-star ANCAP safety rating, which included an outstanding 98 per cent for adult occupant protection.
Mazda has a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, with service intervals at 10,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first. The first, third and fifth services are $315 apiece, and the second and fourth are $359 each.
The Mazda 3 Astina sedan is not only a beautiful car from the outside, but also the inside. From its clean and unsculpted body, to its classy interior, the Japanese sedan is full of sophistication. It is also a no-brainer if you want the practicality over the hatch, because that boot comes at no extra cost.