Review: Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019)

Rating:

Good looking and well engineered. Efficient engines. Excellent steering and handling, better still from 2017 revamp. Compliant suspension.

No DAB radio at launch (DAB arrived for 2017 MY).

Recently Added To This Review

5 October 2019

Sticking rear hatch solenoid and sticking door mirror folding mechanisms reported on 2016 Mazda 3. Suggested spraying with WD40. Read more

19 August 2019

Report of failure of 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission of a 2014/64 Mazda 3 2.0 Skyactiv G petrol at 47,000 miles. Read more

29 July 2019 R/2019/219:

Wheel nuts may loosen. A manufacturing defect may cause the wheel nuts to loosen. Fix: re-tighten the wheel nuts to the correct torque. VINs: JMZBP****01100060 to JMZBP******119193 . Build dates: 07-11-2018... Read more

Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019): At A Glance

With its interesting, stylish looks, the latest Mazda3 is bound to draw attention – but it’s not all style and no substance. A well-made cabin, decent practicality, strong engines and excellent driving dynamics combine to make the Mazda3 a strong contender in a busy class, taking on rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon.

There are more petrol engines than diesels, kicking off with a 100PS 1.5-litre. There is also a 2.0-litre with either 120PS or 165PS, plus one diesel variant – a 2.2-litre with 150PS. This high-tech engine offers official economy of 68.9mpg and emissions of 107g/km, despite its 150PS power output and 8.1 second 0-62mph time.

Performance is impressive across all engines, petrol or diesel. With the exception of the entry-level 1.5-litre engine, all of the manual Mazda3 variants clock impressive acceleration numbers and offer good in-gear performance thanks to useful torque outputs at low engine speeds.

The enjoyable performance pairs with the nicely weighted, accurate steering, well-judged suspension and smooth gear change to make for a very enjoyable car. Through a series of corners the Mazda3 remains comfortable yet controlled, with little body roll and a good sense of connection to the road. Enthusiastic drivers will enjoy it.

Practicality is generally fairly good – rear legroom is plentiful, though headroom could be better. Boot space lags behind the Volkswagen Golf, but it is no means bad at 350 litres. There are plenty of little storage areas in the cabin, while up front the layout is simple and easy to get to grips with. Material quality is very good – the Mazda3 feels like a quality car.

For someone who wants to stand out from the usual crowd of Volkswagen Golfs and Vauxhall Astras the Mazda3 is a great choice. It offers all the impressive quality of rivals like the Golf, plus it has strong engines and excellent driving dynamics, making it easy to recommend. 

Mazda 3 pre-production prototypes tested

Mazda 3 Road Test

Mazda 3 2017 Facelift Road Test

What does a Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019) cost?

Contract hire from £201.60 per month
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Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4460–4585 mm
Width 1795–2053 mm
Height 1450–1465 mm
Wheelbase 2700 mm

Full specifications

Inside, the new Mazda 3 is striking, The instruments are available in two configurations - the standard models get a large speedometer flanked by a small digital revcounter and computer display; while in the more luxurious models, the central dial is a tachometer, with the speed being relayed digitally, inset within the revcounter and via head-up display. The rest of the control set is handled by the seven-inch multimedia screen's controls mounted logically in the centre console. Storage space is plentiful within the cabin, although bizarrely, there are no door pockets.

As the new 3 is wider and has a longer wheelbase than the outgoing model, it's no surprise to learn that there's more interior room. A six-footer can sit behind another six-footer, although in the rear, hat room is slightly limited. But in the front, it's airy and has plenty of room, generally feeling higher up the food chain than a humble Golf-sector car. As for the boot - it offers a 350-litre capacity, which isn't bad considering the new car's shorter overhang. It does, however, trail the Golf by 30 litres.

Child seats that fit a Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

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What's the Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019) like to drive?

The 2014 Mazda 3 is the third incarnation of Mazda’s Skyactiv philosophy. Instead of adopting hybrid technology to improve fuel economy and reduce CO2, Mazda has chosen to make its internal combustion engines more efficient.

So we have low compression diesels with exhaust manifolds in their cylinder heads so they heat up faster, emit less soot and comply with EU6 regulations without the need for an expensive additive additive.

Skyactiv petrol engines have very high compression ratios and instead of being downsized and turbocharged they are 2.0 litre naturally aspirated, yet still achieve a low 119g/km CO2.

But Skyactiv isn’t all that Mazda and the new Mazda 3 are about. Mazda is staffed by enthusiasts and fundamentally makes drivers cars where every single aspect has been though about and re-thought until judged to be right by the engineers and designers rather than the company accountants.

Everything feels right. The switchgear. The way the car drives and handles. The way everything from the stop-start to the automatic gearshift actually works.

Mazda calls this ‘Jinba Ittai.’ A harmony between man and machine. A feeling that a car should respond to its driver in the same way as a horse to its rider.

In the new Mazda 3 they have take this a small step further. A new control screen is ergonomically designed so the driver can operate it intuitively without taking his eyes from the road.

The car handles very well without compromising ride comfort. We drove a 120PS 2.0 petrol fastback manual saloon, a 120PS petrol fastback automatic, and a 165PS 2.0 petrol Sport hatchback.

The 120s were SE-Nav and SEL-Nav spec and came on 16” alloy wheels with 205/60 R16 tyres. The 165 Sport was on 18s with 215/45 R18 tyres.

All gripped and handled very decently, but the Sport hung on exceptionally well. Unlike a Golf, Leon, Octavia or Civic, all Mazda 3s have proper multilink fully independent rear suspension.

The roads we drove in Spain were smooth surfaced, so we couldn’t assess what would happen in the event of a typical British mid corner pothole. But body control over crests and through dips was excellent. And the car rode the inevitable speed humps n towns and villages very well.

The 165 didn’t like high revs much. It was at its best between 2,000 and 5,000rpm. The 120 was very smooth yet felt just a tad strangled for a 2.0 litre, particularly at high altitude in the mountains, but that’s how it emits just 119g/km CO2.

You get a different dash on the 165 Sport. The central circular speedo becomes a rev counter, with a digital speed readout and a gearshift indicator where the small rev counter would have been on lesser versions.

Carbuyers looking at family saloons and hatchbacks in the Mazda 3’s price category are now faced with going down to a 1.0 litre or 1.2 or 1.4 turbo, or sticking with a 1.8 in the Civic or the 2.0 litre in the Mazda 3.

Downsizing inevitably brings lower CO2 in the EC tests, so less annual tax. But in the real world the 1.8s and 2.0 litres deliver a more satisfying drive with better fuel economy.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.5 55 mpg 10.8 s 119 g/km
1.5 D 64–74 mpg 11.0–11.6 s 99 g/km
2.0 55 mpg 8.8–8.9 s 119 g/km
2.0 120 55 mpg 8.8 s 119 g/km
2.0 120 Automatic 50 mpg 10.3 s 128 g/km
2.0 165 49 mpg 8.2 s 135 g/km
2.0 Automatic 50 mpg 10.3–10.4 s 128–129 g/km
2.2 D 69–72 mpg 8.0–8.1 s 104–107 g/km
2.2 D Automatic 59 mpg 9.7 s 127 g/km

Real MPG average for a Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

76%

Real MPG

30–61 mpg

MPGs submitted

714

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What's the best medium-sized automatic petrol car for £15,000?

I am looking for a medium-sized automatic petrol car for £15,000?
We'd recommend the Honda Civic. £15,000 will get a second-hand example of the latest (2017-) model with the reliable CVT automatic transmission. It's very practical. Also consider a Mazda 3.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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What Cars Are Similar To The Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019)?

Key attributes of the this model are: Diesel engine, Easy to park, Economical, Petrol engine and Small family.

Unclear on what your next car should be? Use our Car Chooser to pick something that suits your needs.

What do owners think?

Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.

  • 5 star 67%
  • 4 star 33%
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