Mazda 3 (2019) Review

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Mazda 3 (2019) At A Glance

5/5

+Looks great. Premium interior with excellent standard specification. Fun to drive with excellent manual and automatic gearboxes.

-Rear seats a bit claustrophobic. Poor rear visibility. Entry-level 2.0-litre petrol feels slow compared to turbocharged rivals. Diesel axed in 2019.

New prices start from £20,595, brokers can source from £23,320

The Mazda 3 has always been an underrated alternative to the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. That's especially true of the 2019 model with its eye-catching looks, premium interior and generous amount of standard equipment.

The 3's interior is just as easy on the eye as its exterior, with lots of well-finished materials and a simplistic layout. Refreshingly, the (relatively small and thin) infotainment screen sits on top of the dash and is controlled via a rotary controller positioned between the front seats. There's no touchscreen as Mazda says it's too distracting - something many of our readers agree with.

With seats positioned low down, there's loads of room for even the tallest of adults in the front of the Mazda 3. There's a reasonable amount of room in the back, too, but the 3's sloping roofline hinders headroom, while the small rear windows also make things feel slightly claustrophobic. The rear bench is wide enough for three adults, though.

Continuing the driver-focussed theme, the Mazda 3 is as good to drive as the new Ford Focus - and that's saying something. Its communicative steering provides lots of confidence, whether you're tackling city traffic or negotiating winding roads - while the snickety MX-5-like manual gearchange is a delight to use.

Buyers looking for a smooth ride are better opting for the 16-inch alloy wheels which are fitted as standard to the SE and SE-L models, as the 3's slightly unsettled ride around town is emphasised by the 18-inch wheels fitted in Sport guise. The bigger wheels don't make things too uncomfortable, but the difference is noticeable.

The Mazda 3 was initially offered with a 2.0-litre petrol engine that produces a lowly 122PS, or a 1.8-litre turbodiesel with 116PS. The diesel was dropped late in 2019, replaced by a clever Skyactiv-X petrol engine which is said to provide diesel-like economy.

To overlook the latest Mazda 3 in your search for a sensible family hatchback would be a huge oversight. Its interior is up there with the best - with lots of soft-touch materials and buttons in favour of a huge touchscreen display. It's also fairly practical and represents very good value for money.

Looking for a Mazda 3 (2019 on)?
Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

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Ask Honest John

What's the best petrol hatchback?
"I will be changing from an estate to a hatchback as the space is not used. Top choice at the moment is a Golf. My preferences are petrol (annual mileage 10k), automatic and a bit of grunt so around 150ps. What else should I consider with a budget of £15k - £20k? Thanks."
A Volkswagen Golf is a good choice. Take a look at the Mazda 3, too – it's a very stylish hatchback and the Skyactiv-X petrol engine should have enough grunt (avoid the Skyactiv-G). You could also consider a hybrid Toyota Corolla. It'll be very reliable and sounds like it'd suit your mileage well.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What's the most reliable automatic family car?
"I have a 2013 Audi A3 with a DSG gearbox that has to be replaced. I'm looking to sell it and buy an automatic petrol family car. I'm confused about the choice as I'm looking for a reliable choice but I want to avoid the problems on automatic gearboxes in the VW group. Can you please advice me about which car I should consider? Many thanks."
Mazda fits its automatic cars with a reliable torque-converter gearbox – you can choose from cars like the Mazda 3 hatchback or the CX-5 SUV.
Answered by Russell Campbell
Can you recommend a good diesel car for motorway journeys?
"I’m considering changing our 2009 Ford Focus 1.8, which is still running well with 70,000 miles on the clock. It’s used as the second family car mainly for local journeys of 15 to 20 miles but we also use it for long motorway trips. My only dislike about the Focus is that it requires revs in excess of 4000 to cruise along motorways and, for this reason, I’m considering changing to a diesel. We like the Honda Civic, Mazda 3 the diesel Focus. I'd appreciate your comments on any models you think I should consider."
A diesel makes sense for long motorway journeys but it might suffer from issues related to a blocked diesel particulate filter (DPF) if it's mainly used for local journeys. If you do buy a diesel, make sure you regularly drive it on the motorway for a good half an hour or so to clear out the DPF. All the cars you've mentioned are good options. We'd also recommend a Skoda Octavia - it's a very practical choice and represents good value for money.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What small family cars would you recommend?
"My son wants a car the size of a Ford Focus or Mercedes-Benz B-Class. Which would be your first and second choice and is there a car in that group he should not buy? I would very much appreciate your guidance."
The latest Ford Focus, Kia Ceed and Mazda 3 are all good choices. There are new versions of the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia on their way this year - if your son isn't concerned about having the latest model, there are some really good pre-reg deals to be had on the outgoing cars (https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/best-pre-reg-and-nearly-new-car-deals/).
Answered by Andrew Brady

What does a Mazda 3 (2019) cost?

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