Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good Whilst an evolution of the previous model, the current 3 (launched here in April ‘09) certainly features more unique styling; the brands trademark gaping mouth grille and extra-large front guards (now look as if they’ve spent many hours at the gym) means you could never mistake it as anything but a Mazda. Small cars usually look better in a hatch body style, but to our eyes the 3 sedan might be the better ‘looker’ of the two.
Not so good One of our reviewers thinks the rear tail lights are a touch too ‘bling’ (but, he could be wrong!?) and anyway, not everyone longs for the more restrained lines of say, a Volkswagen Golf.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good Soft-touch plastics combined with a modern, minimalist dash design help to create a classy cabin ambience. The audio system is integrated cleanly into the dash and all the major controls are logically laid out. The steering adjusts for tilt & reach and the seats are comfortable. Good visibility all ‘round and enough storage compartments on offer to keep a family happy.
Not so good The ventilation controls look less than premium (we’re being picky here) and the surrounding silver plastic is likely to get scratched over time. The satellite navigation screen is on the small side, speaking of which, the rear seat knee room could be better and rear legroom is only adequate…
Performance

Performance

Good The six-speed manual and five-speed auto have both added an extra gear over the previous generation (and a number of current competitors).

The top-selling 2.0-litre Petrol remains relatively unchanged yet is still competitive; generating 108kW of power and loves being revved. The newer 2.2-litre Turbo Diesel generates a whopping 360Nm of torque for effortless pick-up; the larger 2.5-litre Petrol engine in the range-topping SP25 is also fitted to the larger Mazda 6.
Not so good Whilst a number of competitors are offering smaller-sized, fuel efficient Turbocharged Petrol engines, Mazda (as well as a number of other Japanese brands) are yet to do so.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good Whilst Mazda’s steering feels light, it still offers enough feedback for the sports car fan in your family to want to jump behind the wheel. Ride comfort is impressive and the suspension is very capable for a car of this price range. The Mazda 3 is extremely well-tuned for the often unique (read: rough) road surfaces of Australia.
Not so good The Mazda 3 has class-leading ride and handling so not much to complain about here... Whilst quieter than the previous model, tyre noise on rough surfaces is still evident.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good The Mazda brand has been getting better and better over the last decade, so with it comes greater resale value. April 2010 upgrade see's side and curtain airbags standard on the base grade Neo (previously only standard on mid and upper spec grades) so now all Mazda 3's achieve a five star safety rating.
Not so good The top-of-the-range grades are competing (and competing pretty well) against a couple of impressive cars, so we think the very best value Mazda 3’s are at the lower and mid-range price points.