So, I had a top-spec 2003 Mazda 6 Luxury Sports. For a 14-year-old car, it had all the bells and whistles... Of its time.
Fast-forward to 2017 and much has changed in the automotive world. It was time to update. I had considered a new Mazda 6 and took one for a test drive. While I was a big fan of it, I found it a fraction too large for a 30-year-old male with no dependants. They have grown considerably in size and I was after something similar in size to my 2003 model.
It was then that I settled on a 2017 Mazda 3 SP25 Astina auto sedan. It had all of the features of the 2017 Mazda 6 (including the engine), but in a more compact package. It was a tough choice between Soul Red, Machine Grey and Snowflake White Pearl. The white eventually won out and looks fantastic against the gunmetal alloy wheel finish of the top spec.
The naturally aspirated 2.5-litre petrol engine produces 138kW and 250Nm, which is more than most cars in its class. Many underestimate the power of this car in traffic. Kick it into Sport mode and leave them in the dust. Some manufacturers are experimenting with CVT and DSG transmissions, both of which have been plagued by issues. You can't go wrong with Mazda's if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it torque converter automatic.
The Astina comes jam-packed full of features and it leads the way for its competitors. At this pricepoint, you could purchase a base-model European luxury car. However, if you were to option all of the features of the Astina, you would be spending upwards of $60K. Some of my personal favourite features of the Mazda include adaptive cruise control, heated leather seats, electric sunroof, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, reverse camera, rear parking sensors, LED head lights and a nine-speaker Bose sound system.
The only thing I found missing on this car was a bodykit. I looked at the genuine Kuroi kit through Mazda, however it is a bit of a joke at about $3K and with those god-awful black alloy wheels. I found a replica kit online for a fraction of that price and opted for that instead.
This car has a lot going for it, but what about the cons? Well, at the time, Mazda was only offering a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which I felt wasn't very competitive. To its credit, Mazda has since addressed that issue.
I have driven rivals such as the Hyundai i30 and Kia Cerato, both of which have substantially less road noise than the Mazda. Leg room is a bit compromised in the rear, especially for taller people like myself. If you don't carry rear seat passengers often or for long trips, it isn't a deal-breaker.
Mazda claims the real-world consumption to be 6.0L/100km, however I average 8.9L. Bear in mind that my seven-minute commute to work and lack of highway driving might be a contributing factor to that. The lack of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is something that holds it back a bit. That said, the MZD Connect system does a pretty good job without them. Mazda is also addressing this issue with a retrofit for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which will soon be available, at a cost.
If you are in the market for a small car loaded with features and without the polarising looks of its competitors, I highly recommend you check out the Mazda 3 SP25 Astina.