Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019) Review

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Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Mazda 3 is one of the best family hatchbacks you can buy. There, we’ve said it.

+Great to drive, superb range of engines, stylish good looks.

-Rear space could be better, expensive to insure, non-turbo engines won’t suit everyone.

Insurance Groups are between 13–25
On average it achieves 75% of the official MPG figure

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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Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

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.

Ask Honest John

Could you recommend a ULEZ compliant car?
"We need a ULEZ-compliant car that's comfortable for longer journeys on the motorway. Our budget is £8000. We had been looking at a Ford Focus Ecoboost but now fear these engines are not suited to travelling longer distances. We are open to all suggestions."
If you use your car for lots long journeys then a Euro6 diesel will probably suit your needs best. It will be exempt from the ULEZ charge and provide low fuel costs. Given your budget, I'd recommend the Honda Civic 1.6 i-DTEC diesel: If you only use your car for lots of short trips (and only the occasional long journey) then a petrol will be better. I'd go with the Mazda 3 Skyactiv 2.0 petrol:
Answered by Dan Powell
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
The turbo has failed on my car - and despite being replaced it won't go above 60mph?
"A couple of weeks ago my Mazda 3 1.6 diesel died on the motorway. It was towed to a local independent garage, where £800 later the turbo was replaced, the DPF was filled with fluid and regenerated and the oil and oil filter replaced. It ran okay after that for about two days, but then went into limp mode began. The garage attempted a regeneration again but when they came to the final stage of the process, the computer wouldn't allow the regeneration, saying the car does not have a DPF? I am now left with a car that is just about driveable, in limp mode, not revving above 3000rpm or going above 60mph. It also takes far longer than it should do, to gain speed at lower mph and my local garages haven't a clue what to do with it. Three different professionals say they've never seen anything like this before?"
The usual reason for turbo failure is oil starvation to the turbo bearing because the bearing oil feed and oil return pipes have become choked with carbon. So if these pipes were not replaced when the turbo was replaced, the new turbo will fail in the same way.
Answered by Honest John
What automatic petrol car would you suggest for a 70 mile commute?
"I would welcome your advice on what nearly new cars to consider buying. My company is moving and I will have to drive 70 miles to and from work with short journeys the rest of the week. My budget is up to £17k and I want a comfortable reliable economic petrol automatic that I can climb out of after two hours without feeling crippled."
We'd be tempted by a Honda Civic 1.0 CVT but it has a timing belt rather than a chain. The Mazda 3 would be another sensible choice, with a chain rather than a belt. Also consider the Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf.
Answered by Andrew Brady

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

Buy new from £23,320 (list price from £23,660)