Over the years Mazda3 has been a solid pillar of the Mazda success in Australia, right from the late 70’s with the 323 through to the release of the first generation Mazda3 about 15 years ago. Over that time, 42 years or so, the ‘3’ variants have been extremely popular with Australian Buyers. My sister included who had an early model 323 and drove it for nearly 500,000 kilometres without a problem.
Fast forward to 2019 and the next gen Mazda3 is ready for release and I attended a special preview in Melbourne. First impressions are that it still is a segment leader. We only had a brief drive, because there are only two examples in the country and the Mazda executives were justifiably nervous about damage as these were the cars that are being used for all the marketing material.
Mazda has an unshakable focus on the private buyer and customer feedback has featured heavily in the design and features of the latest model.
The latest design is actually quite beautiful, more so in the flesh than photos. The subtlety of the lines shows through up close. Surprisingly the hatchback and sedan share only two panels between them.
They each have their individual identities, with the hatchback looking more sporty and sleek, possibly aimed at the more adventurous buyer, while the sedan has a more mature look. I can see older buyers that are looking for a smaller quality car looking at the sedan.
Apart from that I can only speak for the hatchback, as that was the vehicle on display. It displayed a graceful, sleek exterior, forsaking the trend for exaggerated character lines. There is the familial nose and grill, adopting a new lamp design in the front as well as the rear, displaying simplified beauty.
The hatch is further distinguished by a unique body colour offering called Polymetal Grey Metallic, which fuses the hard appearance of metal with glossy smoothness. In the flesh, it looked better in the burgundy though.
Mazda has always presented quality interiors. They built their reputation in the 70/80.s with the fully imported tag, with a build quality far beyond its ricing. That continues today with this generation Mazda3.
At the preview, the Mazda people went to great lengths to explain the intricate design details that went into refining the interior strengthening the harmonious connection between car and driver that Mazda calls Jinba-Ittai.
However as a buyer, I don’t need to know all that. All I need to know is when I sit inside the cabin immediately it feels comfortable, with quality materials and focused on me as a driver. In that Mazda has succeeded. I really liked the matt style burgundy interior colouring that contrasted with the glossy black lacquer-look finish of Next-Gen Mazda3’s shift panel. The seat material texture, featured stitching on the seats and dash and soft touch points all contribute to the quality ambience.
The redesigned front seats feel firm and supportive in the important areas under the knees, side bolster and lumbar as well as upper back. The steering wheel now has more range of adjustment so it’s easier to find the perfect driving position. I feel that the steering wheel is a little old fashion in its design, but meets my needs adequately.
The steering wheel, three-dial instrument cluster and ventilation louvers create symmetry in the cockpit, angled inward to face the driver. Overall driver ergonomics are excellent.
The centre console has been revised for easier operation and improved driver and passenger comfort; the shift lever has moved forward and higher up, cup holders are now positioned in front of the shift lever and the armrest is almost double its previous length, matching the height of the door trim armrest for superior front seat comfort.
Although I didn’t spend much time in the rear seats, they are also very comfortable and suited for two occupants, probably slightly smaller than this large bear. There are air conditioner vents, USB ports and food visibility for passenger comfort. Boot space is as you would expect, with a space saver spare located under the boot floor.
Mazda’s research shows that for 75% of trips there is only one driver on board and the rest there is 1, possibly two passengers on board, 1-2 times a week. Hence the refined focused on driver ergonomics.
The climate-control panel and passenger-side louvers are integrated into the left-right axis that follows the line of the instrument panel. The new design also positions controls higher, where they are easier for the driver to use.
Mazda has redesigned the Human Machine Interface (HMI) for a clearer display. Now standard across the range, the newly added TFT LCD meter, windscreen projected Active Driving Display and the larger 8.8-inch infotainment display are streamlined and have uniform visual language. The Mazda control is possibly the easiest and most intuitive to use. That includes the prestige brands such as Audi, BMW and Lexus.
Mazda’s infotainment system, Mazda Connect, has also been reworked from the ground up. Enhanced system performance, connectivity and navigation functions make for smoother, easier operation; Mazda Connect boots up faster, basic operation is more intuitive and has a display quality befitting the advanced Next-Gen Mazda3. It also now adds Apple® CarPlay™ and Android® Auto™ as standard.
The audio system was completely overhauled and optimised to provide clear sound for all occupants. An eight-speaker system is now standard while higher spec models get a premium 12-speaker Bose sound system.
One exceptionally important new feature is that Mazda is now transforming the owner’s manual into a function of the car. If an owner needs to know the meaning of a warning lamp that illuminates while driving or wants to know how a particular function works then the owner’s manual is one of the best resources for finding that information. With the addition of so many new functions in recent years, flipping through the hundreds of pages in the owner’s manual can make finding the right information difficult. Seeking a practical solution, Mazda simply made the owner’s manual a function of the car and by directly linking the information to the respective warning lamps has provided a level of convenience that can only be found in a digital format.
Mazda3 Engine and Drivetrain
Next-Gen Mazda3 offers three advanced Skyactiv petrol powertrain options, firstly available with Skyactiv-G 2.0 and Skyactiv-G 2.5 petrol engines, with Mazda’s innovative and revolutionary Skyactiv-X available before the end of 2019.
The 2.0L engine offers 114kW at 6,000rpm and 200Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. The 2.5L maximum power output of 139kW at 6,000rpm and 252Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. Skyactiv-X will feature the world’s first implementation of a new combustion method, called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI), which gives the superior initial response and powerful torque of a diesel engine, combined with the faithful linear response to rapid accelerator pedal action and free-revving performance of a petrol engine. Transmissions are a 6-speed manual (Skyactiv-MT) or 6-speed automatic (Skyactiv-Drive).
I took a brief ten minute drive around the streets of St Kilda in Melbourne. There were a couple of things that stood out. As soon as you closed the door, the level of quietness was apparent and was enhanced when driving. The steering was responsive and direct, the ride was smooth, compliant over the inner city road irregularities and speed bumps and more luxurious then expected for the price range.
That’s as much as I can give from the brief ride, but I’m looking forward to a much longer drive when they are released in April.
Like everything else about the next gen Mazda3, safety has had a significant upgrade. There is new, advanced i-Activsense safety technology, an upgraded list of standard equipment and passive safety improvements. to support the driver further and enhance accident mitigation.
Next-Gen Mazda3 introduces the newly developed Driver Monitoring system, Front Cross Traffic Alert (FCTA) and Cruising & Traffic Support (CTS). Standard equipment on the top spec model, these advanced i-Activsense technologies are also available as part of a $1500 Vision Technology option that can be added to any grade.
- 360° View Monitor
- Adaptive LED Headlights (ALH)
- Cruising & Traffic Support (CTS)
- Driver monitoring
- Front Cross Traffic Alert (FCTA)
- Smart Brake Support [Rear Crossing]
Mazda has upgraded safety across the range with standard features including:
- Mazda Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) with Stop & Go,
- Smart Brake Support,
- Lane-keep Assist System (LAS),
- Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and
- Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW),
- Plus more.
Next-Gen Mazda3’s safety credentials are further strengthened with the ratio of ultra-high-tensile steel rated at 980MPa or higher greatly increased, from the 3% used on the previous model to 30%.
Next-Gen Mazda3 is also the first car in the world to adopt 1,310MPa-grade ultra-high-tensile steel to form part of its framework, and the first Mazda vehicle to add a driver’s seat knee airbag as standard equipment.
Moreover, Mazda has improved measures that protect against frontal, side and rear impact, and to offer better pedestrian, motorcycle and bicycle protection. Seat design and seatbelts have also been improved to mitigate injuries for all occupants.
Mazda3 Range and Pricing
|Soul Red Crystal Metallic paint||$495|
|Machine Grey Metallic paint|
|Polymetal Grey Metallic paint|
As you would expect the latest generation is the most refined yet of the model lineage. It retains the best qualities that have been constantly developed from 1977 and builds on them to deliver a composed, graceful offering that is sure to continue the sales success. Next-Gen Mazda3 delivers new levels of quality in design, driving performance, dynamics, safety, and NVH.
In a buyer’s world that is seemingly on an unstoppable path towards SUV’s, many buyers of smaller SUV’s would do well to drive the Mazda3, especially the hatch, before they decide.
- Model Price from $24,990 MLP*
- Engine 2.0L Skyactiv four-cylinder petrol
- Drivetrain 6 Sp MT and AT FWD
- Power 114 kW @ 6000 rpm
- Torque 200 Nm @ 4000 rpm
- Safety TBA
- CO2 TBA g/km
- Economy ADR 6.3 L/100 km
- Servicing Menu Price
- Warranty 5 Yrs / Unlimited km Opt Roadside Assist
*Includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of options.