The Mazda 3 is one of Australia’s number 1 selling cars of all time. The 2017 (slight) facelift and the addition of a whole range of new features attracted me to go test drive the Mazda 3.
My Mazda is the SP25 Astina, 6-speed automatic, sedan. The Astina is $37,000, including on-road costs. It is set at a good price point, considering all the features you get. In saying this, this has a similar price point of more prestigious cars, such as the Audi A3 or a BMW 1 series. I considered these premium competitors, but factoring in the lack of standard options and the high servicing costs, the prestigious name didn’t matter as much anymore.
The Mazda 3 has a suite of new safety features, especially in the Astina variant. This includes passive lane keep assist, adaptive LED headlamps, rear parking sensors and camera, autonomous braking at both high and low speeds (including in reverse) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring. It also includes 7 airbags and 3 ISOFIX points, bringing it up to the much desired 5-star ANCAP safety rating. My favourite safety feature would be the Adaptive LED headlamps. This feature keeps the high beam on, whilst actively shadowing the cars in front and the oncoming cars - it does not dazzle other road users; it wraps around their car in a way so you can see as much of the road ahead as possible.
My least favourite feature would have to be the Adaptive Cruise control. It doesn’t work like other systems where it adapts to all speeds, including in stop-start traffic. This Mazda system shuts off at speed below 30 kilometres, which I think makes the system quite useless.
The engine is a punchy, yet economic, 2.5-litre engine with 138kW of power and 250Nm of torque, all whilst achieving 6 litres per 100 kilometres average for fuel economy. The engine is quick to respond and perfect for both drives around town and at high speeds. The automatic models also comes with paddle-shifters behind the wheel, G-vectoring control and a sports lever (this lever just changes transmission feel - not suspension), which adds to the sporty feel of the car. The only down side to this is that the engine noise can be heard in the cabin, as the car is not as sound proof as competitors. The bonnet is also weirdly long which makes it hard for manoeuvring in car parks. It also does not come standard with front parking sensors - it is a $700 cost option.
Technology is good in the car; it comes with two USB power points, one 12-volt plug-in point, satellite navigation (with free updates for 3 years), Bluetooth connectivity, a head-up display, traffic sign recognition and dual-zone climate control. It unfortunately doesn’t come with Apple CarPlay or Android Audio, even though it is a colour touchscreen. Mazda have recently released that this can be added as a $500 cost option for those cars fitted with the MZD connect system.
The Mazda’s cockpit is a nice place to be. It is fitted with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather seats, a minimalistic dash and padded arm rests on either side. I do often find myself looking for secure storage spots for items, everything is very open and clean, which means items always seem to be rolling around in the car. Stretching from the front seats to the back seats is a different story. It still comes with comfy leather seats in the rear, but space is limited and there are no rear floor vents. It is fine for commuting around town or maybe the odd small road trip, but you might find your rear passengers fighting for space as the journey continues on. The rear seats do fold back which makes it nice for loading longer items in (the seats are a 60:40 fold).
Other features worth mentioning are the stylish “Gun Metal” 18 inch alloy wheels, 9-speaker Bose sound system and a 14-way power adjust seat for the driver only.
The servicing intervals are tedious as well. The Mazda longs for its garage every 10,000 kilometres or every 12 months. 10,000 kilometres is not much considering most of its rivals only need a service every 15,000+ kilometres. The services are capped price, so should not set you back much more than $400 at a time.
Overall, the Mazda is stylish, fun and reliable. I would definitely recommend putting it on your test drive list if you are in the market for a small hatchback or sedan.