Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019) Review
Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019) At A Glance
Launched in 2014, the Mazda 3 is one of the best of the ‘other’ family hatchbacks. While the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and, to a lesser extent, Vauxhall Astra dominate the sales chart, the other five-door family-sized hatchbacks are engaged in a battle of the also-rans. It deserves better, because the Mazda 3 is arguably the best looking car in its class, with hints of the MX-5 sports car in the way it drives. There’s more, because the Mazda 3 boasts an enviable reliability record and a cabin with a distinctly upmarket feel.
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While the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra are the obvious choices in a crowded segment, the Mazda 3 is the best of the rest.
What makes it so good? We’ll start with the styling, which looks chiselled and honed to within an inch of perfection, particularly following the facelift at the end of 2016. There’s not a line out of place, which enables the Mazda 3 to rub shoulders with premium rivals like the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
The good vibes continue on the inside, where you’ll find elements of the Mazda MX-5 sports car, with everything finished with precision and quality.
It’s a very driver-centric cabin, with a superb driving position and a feeling of being cocooned without being cramped. It feels a little more claustrophobic in the back, a sense not helped by the dark materials, the shape of the rear windows and the sloping roofline. Practicality is merely adequate for a car of this size.
Any gripes will be forgotten once you hit the road. The link to the MX-5 is clear, with the Mazda 3 offering a superb blend of sharp and accurate steering, tight cornering and driver satisfaction. The ride quality isn’t as supple as some rivals, but you’ll forgive this for the way the car makes you feel when you’re behind the wheel.
The engines play a big part in this. The 165PS 2.0 Skyactiv-G petrol engine is a particular highlight, giving the Mazda 3 a terrific turn of pace and reasonable economy. It feels quick and it rewards drivers who explore the upper reaches of the rev range.
A 120PS version is available if you don’t need the performance, along with a 1.5 Skyactiv-G, which is perfect for city driving.
Don’t rule out the Skyactiv-D diesel engines, which offer excellent economy and a fair amount of pace. The 2.2-litre diesel is a particular highlight, thanks to its pulling power, strong acceleration and fuel economy.
All versions of the Mazda 3 are well-equipped, while higher trim levels feel positively lavish. Choose the mid-range SE-L and SE-L Nav models for the best blend of price and equipment, not to mention the greatest choice on the used car market. Prices have dropped as low as £5000, making this one of the used car bargains of 2020.
It’s not perfect, but what is? Some people will prefer the lazy performance and efficiency of a turbocharged engine, while others will demand better ride comfort. Some may demand more space and flexibility.
Others will revel in the quality engineering, driver satisfaction and understated confidence of the Mazda 3. Judged on the basis of styling, dynamics, quality and reliability, the Mazda is good enough to be called the class leader. It’s that good.