Written byShaun McGowan
The Mazda3 competes against the likes of Hyundai i30, Toyota Corolla and Kia Cerato. Its real strengths are polished presentation inside and out, and advanced engine technology delivering solid performance and excellent fuel economy.
There are basically six spec levels in the range: Pure, Evolve, Evolve SP, Touring, GT and Astina. This is a very wide range that covers everything from a fairly basic vehicle at the entry level to quite a plush, feature-rich proposition in the top two grades, with incremental improvements between grades.
8.8-inch widescreen colour display
e-Skyactiv G 2.0 2.0L Petrol M Hybrid FWD
Hatch: 295L Sedan: 444L
132kW/224Nm 5.3L/100km combined fuel consumption
There are also four different engine options - a basic entry-level 2.0-litre four cylinder with 114 kilowatts and 200 Newton-metres, and a reasonably potent 2.5-litre option (139 kilowatts and 252 Newton-metres) being the most common choices.
The 2.5-litre engine boosts its highway fuel economy with inbuilt ‘cylinder deactivation’ technology, which (as the name suggests) shuts down two cylinders during cruising at low loads, to reduce the engine’s so-called ‘pumping losses’.
There is a ‘mild hybrid’ version of the 2.0-litre engine offered in the range, which is best not confused with full hybrid alternatives from competitors. Mild hybrid, in Mazda’s execution, stores only a very small amount of energy and uses it mainly to drive the electrical system, rather than for wholesale propulsion assistance.
The ‘mild hybrid’ 2.0-litre makes the same power and torque as the standard 2.0, but there is also an advanced version of the 2.0-litre (called the ‘Skyactiv-X SPCCI’ engine) available right at the top of the range and featuring advanced compression-ignition combustion control technology (as well as ‘mild hybrid’ , which makes almost as much power as the 2.5 engine, albeit with 25 per cent less displacement.
The Skyactiv-X engine delivers exceptionally low fuel consumption, at 5.5 litres per 100km on the official ‘combined cycle’ test (versus the 2.5-litre at 6.5). Two things to be aware of there: the Skyactiv-X technology is roughly $3000 more expensive than the standard 2.5-litre, and there are higher ongoing operating costs as well, because while the 2.5-litre is happy to run on 91-octane petrol, the Skyactiv-X demands 95-octane premium unleaded.
Although the Australian car market is moving rapidly towards SUVs and utes, Mazda3 remains one of the more popular conventional cars. For young families on a budget, vehicles in this segment are definitely big enough for domestic duties, and substantially cheaper than SUVs, many of which, although taller, really don’t offer that much more interior space.
Shaun is the founder of Money.com.au and is determined to help people pay as little as possible for financial products. Through education and building world class technology. Previously Shaun co-founded CarLoans.com.au and Lend.