The Mazda 3 is the most popular privately purchased car in Australia and has not only proven itself a dependable performer since going on sale last year – it’s also more comfortable and tech-savvy than ever before.
You can get the Mazda 3 in a sedan, or as we have here, a hatchback. Both bodystyles come with Mazda’s snazzy new five-point snout, with some particularly nice creases over the front wheelarches, though the hatch is a more parking friendly 4.46 metres long compared with the 4.58m sedan.
The Mazda 3 has a really modern and well-executed interior, though it doesn’t quite look as classy or well finished as European rivals such as the Peugeot 308 or Volkswagen Golf.
The highlight is this 7.0-inch colour touchscreen up here on the dashboard, which is standard on this mid-grade Maxx and above, but not the base model Neo. The Mazda MZD-Connect system is absolutely best in class, with bright nav, an intuitive interface and even Pandora and Aha apps connectivity that allows you to stream music from your phone’s internet connection.
Under the Mazda 3’s bonnet is an all-new 2.0-litre four-cylinder SkyActiv engine that produces 114kW of power and 200Nm of torque – about average for the class.
The engine and six-speed automatic are a great match. Unlike some competitors with turbo engines and dual-clutch transmissions, the non-turbo Mazda 3 with its regular auto is super smooth and easy to drive around town – which will be a big bonus for many people.
Pick the hatch if you want style, the sedan if you want space, but keep in mind the Mazda 3 works best around town or if you’re up for dynamic drives – it’s not so special on long cruisy road trips. But being inoffensive in most areas, a bit like a Toyota Corolla, with an added injection of sportiness that’s rare in the segment, means the Mazda 3 does indeed deserve its place at the top of the sales charts.