Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Steveieb
My daughter has decided to hand back her work provided VW Polo and buy her own car with a budget. Of 10k.

She has set her mind on a Mazda 3 with thank goodness the 2 litre petrol engine.

But has she overlooked any skeletons in th cupboard such as the ABS sensor which I believe has known to give problems.

Your advise would be much appreciated.
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - SLO76
In all the years I’ve had in selling cars I’ve yet to have any major issue with any Mazda. The 3 in 2.0 Skyactiv petrol spec should be an excellent longterm purchase, one I’d happily own myself. The best cars are at main dealers but as with any used car look for accident damage and poor paint repairs. These are also great fun to drive so relax and buy one of the best small family hatches on the market.
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Engineer Andy

I don't remember a problem with the ABS sensor. Nothing on the Good & Bad section - the mk1 had an issue with the TEVEZ system for cars with traction and stability control (mine didn't have either so had no issue) but not the mk2 or latest version. An issue perhaps with the TPMS which is mentioned maybe? It should be fine - just avoid the hard riding Sport model on 18in rims which also costs a lot to replace tyres as they are an unusual size combo, even more than the equivalent 16in ones on the SE-L and below (compared to older gen models like mine with standard size tyres that are vastly cheaper and are just as grippy).

If she is set on a Mazda, best to check reviews of the main dealers in her area as the quality of the service departments can vary quite a bit, unlike the Hondas and Toyotas of this world.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Smileyman

I looked at the Mazda 3 last year, nice car but there were a few niggles that put me off - for instance no spare and no wheel well so aftermarket spare would have made the boot too small. Also found the glove box / door pockets too small. Yes, the 16" wheels are an unusual size, but there are still plenty of good choice tyres out there so it's not really a problem. (Same size as on previous car so that did not concern me).

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Engineer Andy

I looked at the Mazda 3 last year, nice car but there were a few niggles that put me off - for instance no spare and no wheel well so aftermarket spare would have made the boot too small. Also found the glove box / door pockets too small. Yes, the 16" wheels are an unusual size, but there are still plenty of good choice tyres out there so it's not really a problem. (Same size as on previous car so that did not concern me).

No spare as standard, but there is space for one below the main boot floor - it's just that you have to buy the unique cutout kit with the wheel and tyre from Mazda so it can fit the space and it costs £395. If you compare the number of tyres available for the lower models on 205/60 R16s compared to the mk1 and mk2 shod on 205/55 R16s, then it's about a quarter AND all are about 25-30% more expensive because there's a far smaller market for them, compared to the other size which is common across many makes and models from the early 2000s onwards.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Smileyman

Yes, I totally agree with you about the spare, nonetheless it does reduce sboot space and the boot is not the largest in class (especially the hatchback)

I also agree about your comment on tyre prices, I did not mention that as having driven a car with the same 16" tyre for 10 years such matters had receeded into the background - and with careful shopping and no sudden distress purchases tyre prices can be easily managed.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - landmarked

Lots of good tyre choices with the 18in wheels (Goodyear F1, Rainsports, PS3s...) and I agree with HJ that this car works better on the 18s; handling is sharper and ride barely affected. Completely different than my previous car (Golf MK5) where 18s destroyed the ride compared to 17s.

Edited by landmarked on 23/07/2018 at 23:08

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Engineer Andy

If you read the two paragraphs afterwards in HJ's review he says that the car was tested on smooth Spanish roads and may not fair so well on the UK's poorly maintained roads. I can vouch for that as I tested mk3s with both 16 and 18in tyres and the bad road surfaces were transmitted to the occupants far more on the 18in shod car than the 16in shod one. I found only a minor difference in grip and could easily be managed by fitting better tyres than the OEMs. The comfort issue will only worsen as the car ages as well because the lower profile tyres will transmit more energy to the suspension which will wear more quickly as a result.

This, I think, is one of the main reasons why most of the second hand mk3s on forecourts are models shod on 18in rims - the lack of comfort after a year or so.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - landmarked

I bought a MK3 at 1 year old with 18in wheels :-)

My experience test driving with 16 and 18s wasn't the same as yours.

As I plan on keeping the car a few years, I would be more than happy to downgrade to 16s or 17s if I felt the need, but honestly compared to some of the BMWs, VWs etc I've driven for work with similarly low profile tyres, the ride is quite compliant.

I would expect suspension bushings etc. to wear a bit faster, but would be very surprised if anything was noticeable after a year.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Steveieb
Really useful feedback, many thanks.

Will prices be affected towards the introduction of the new model ? Later this year ?
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - landmarked

I expect there will be good deals on the current model and a drop in nearly-new prices when the new model is out... but no launch date yet as far as I'm aware. Not sure if it will really be a 2019 model year (i.e. available late 2018) or really available sometime in 2019. Also not clear if the new HCCI engine will be availalble at launch.

The HCCI engine is another topic - great to see a small company like Mazda innovating in a differnt direction from the rest of the pack, but it will be even more complex than a downsized turbo engine, I'm not sure I would want to be an early adoptor...

Edited by landmarked on 25/07/2018 at 00:39

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Mick27

I had the 165 version but swapped it for something else a couple of years ago and soon regretted it. I've put it right by buying another that I'm picking up this weekend. I did try the 16" wheels and found the ride was slightly comfier and lighter to steer Vs 18" but not a massive difference. They drive very nicely and look great, I like the petrol motors and the lack of a turbo means less to go wrong although we will have to see how the direct injection works out in time (valve stem fouling potential). The only issue I had was front brake discs that ridged easily in the winter as water sits on top of the brake pads and corrodes the disc surface causing vibration on braking, I don't do a of of miles though and that probably exacerbates the issue. There are some decent deals out there at the moment, new SEL and Sport Navs with around £4.5k off retail. Oh I agree about the price of the space saver kit from Mazda, it's frankly ludicrous.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - davecooper

Interesting what you say about the Mazda 3 165. My previous 3 was a 120 but decided to go for the 165 this time round even though on paper its torque/RPM figures are identical to the 120. Went for the stone leather as well as this was only a £250 option. Over all, the car has a pretty good spec for the price. I had read that people had tried the 165 but then opted for the 120 as there was no real normal driving performance difference. I hadn't driven one when I ordered it so was prepared to be possibly underwhelmed. However, from pulling out of the dealers, I was pleasantly surprised. It certainly felt more sprightly than my previously (well run in) 120 version. It also seems happy in a gear higher than I would have used previously so looking forward to this one loosening up. Ride on the 18"s has never been what I would call harsh and everyday MPG is around 44 which is not much worse than the 120. So generally very happy with the choice.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - landmarked

I went for the 165 as well.

There are two factors that make it feel a lot more sprightly. Firstly it has more torque (and therefore power) at the top of the rev range, which makes it more satisfying to hold onto gears, especially on quiet A & B roads :-)

The second one, much more noticeable in everyday driving, is the lower final drive ratio (4.39 vs 3.62), which shortens all the gears, effectively tuning for fun rather than economy. This is probably why you are able to go up a gear sometimes vs. the seletion you would have made in the 120.

The downside is that at high speed cruise on the motorway in 6th gear, the engine is at a higher rpm in the 165, consuming a bit more fuel. Luckily the engine doesn't seem to be any noisier until you get well past legal speeds.

Edited by landmarked on 25/07/2018 at 18:30

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - davecooper

Didn't realise it had a lower final drive ratio. That explains a lot. You certainly need to get out of first as quickly as possible as you hit high revs quite quickly. However, it is certainly happy to stay in 6th at quite low revs and still have a bit of pull when needed.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - TheGentlemanThug

Japanese, naturally-aspirated petrol engines are hallmarks of reliability, at least in general.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Senexdriver
I drove a Mazda 3 round New Zealand as a hire car. I have no idea which model, but I know it had a 2 litre petrol engine. I found it perfectly competent at what it did but it was just a bit bland and unexciting. It doesn’t help that my own car is a 2 litre petrol turbo which made the lack of responsiveness all the more noticeable. The ride was on the firm side but comfy nevertheless with good roadholding but New Zealand roads are very smooth and well maintained, so perhaps that is not a good test for British driving.

If it were my daughter buying it, I’d be happy because (a) it’s Japanese and (b) the performance is sufficiently restrained that I wouldn’t be worried about her tearing around. I don’t think I’d buy it for myself though.
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Steveieb
Thanks again everyone

I assume the 165 refers to bhp ?

Also would you recommend sticking to main dealers.

And if so have you any recommendations in the Nottingham Derby area ?
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Quadratica

I am considering a Mazda 3 auto for the simple reason that it has a NA engine and a TC auto, both well proven systems over many decades. The car looks very nice outside and inside too, is good on fuel and hasa 2.0L engine and cheapish, all good things. Your daughter will make a soundchoice if she buys this car.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - landmarked

No ideas on dealers, sorry - but yes the 165 refers to bhp (or actually PS, so maybe it's 163bhp or similar)

There are two versions of the same 2.0 engine, the more common 120ps available with manual and auto, and the 165ps only available with manual and higher trim levels. Both are fine and powerful enough when needed, the 165 version feels zippier for the reasons described above.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Steveieb
Can you tell me whether the petrol engines have cam belts or chains please and when they need changing ?
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - SLO76
Can you tell me whether the petrol engines have cam belts or chains please and when they need changing ?

The 2.0 Skyactiv is chain driven and as long as it gets fresh oil every 10k or 12mths then it’ll last the life of the car. Timing chain problems are extremely rare on these.
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Steveieb
Thanks SLO for all the feedback.

Would you consider buying a 14k mile 2.0 Se from Motorpoint for 12999 with 20 months warranty.
Or are there any drawbacks compared with a Main Dealer ?
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - SLO76
Thanks SLO for all the feedback. Would you consider buying a 14k mile 2.0 Se from Motorpoint for 12999 with 20 months warranty. Or are there any drawbacks compared with a Main Dealer ?

As long as it has a full main dealer service history then there’s no reason why not. But don’t let them service it or your warranty will be gone, despite what they tell you! Often there’s no negotiation at these sites either while money can be knocked off approved main dealer stock so give the dealer a chance to compete. Plus carefully check for poor paint repairs as many ex-lease cars that end up bypassing main dealers and at supermarkets have had poor paintwork.
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Engineer Andy
Thanks SLO for all the feedback. Would you consider buying a 14k mile 2.0 Se from Motorpoint for 12999 with 20 months warranty. Or are there any drawbacks compared with a Main Dealer ?

As long as it has a full main dealer service history then there’s no reason why not. But don’t let them service it or your warranty will be gone, despite what they tell you! Often there’s no negotiation at these sites either while money can be knocked off approved main dealer stock so give the dealer a chance to compete. Plus carefully check for poor paint repairs as many ex-lease cars that end up bypassing main dealers and at supermarkets have had poor paintwork.

Couldn't agree more. I had no problems sourcing my Mazda3 from Motorpoint 12.5 years ago (though you could argue that that's more than enough time for the company to change), although my car was an unused (i.e. delivery miles only) RHD import hire car from Cyprus, so I obviously had no reservations as regards its service history and concentrated on its condition when I picked it up/paid for it.

They did make an error in describing it as having a CD player (Euro-spec cars are different and back then many mid-spec models only came with a radio factory-fitted) but it did have front fog lamps (which weren't on their spec sheet), so I accepted a reduction in the price of £150 (the CD player would cost £175, but I didn't bother haggling over £25 - I was saving £1200 over a lower spec TS model from a broker anyway) which cost me an extra 10 minutes.

I found them to be fine across the whole process. I would insist on a car still under warranty being serviced ONLY at main dealers and on time if I were to go for a used car there though - and would've said so if I had gone for a low mileage 1yo Scirocco from them last year (I decided not to change, but for other reasons).

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Steveieb
One last question

Is the 160 only available in the sport form?

And are the sports the ones with the dreadful suspension and 18inch wheels
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Engineer Andy
One last question Is the 160 only available in the sport form? And are the sports the ones with the dreadful suspension and 18inch wheels

The 165 is only available on the 3 Sport (there's a Sport [120PS] and a Sport 165 [165PS]). The Mazda6 Sport is only available in 165 PS form for the petrol (145PS form for lower spec models, roughly similar performance as the 3's 120PS).

I don't think there's much, if any, difference in the suspension set up between models as far as I'm aware - its just that the combo of the larger 18in wheels and lower profile tyres (same overall diameter of the 16in tyre, but a bit wider) on ALL Sport models means that the ride is firmer, especially on poorly surfaced roads, over speed humps, etc, particularly after the newness of the car and its tyres starts to fade after the first 6-12 months/5k miles or so. As regards the brakes, I'm not sure if they are any different and thus may only be able to accommodate 18in wheels on the Sport/Sport 165 - best to check with your local dealer.

The ride quality is always going to be a matter of contention, as its very subjective (unless its absolutely terrible, which is isn't) because it depends on a) the view of what is a decent ride and what isn't by the person testing the car (often affected by what they have been driving before, whether they have back problems, their style of driving, etc) and b) the conditions of the road surface they are testing it on, as well as the age/mileage of the car tested.

This is why I always try and test drive both a new car and a used one to see how it will fair after a year or two (or so) as the suspension and tyres begin to wear. I always try and test drive the car on the type of roads (condition and configuration) that I will be mainly driving on should I buy it, and will take it out for at least 45 mins, and likely more than once as I would never buy after just one look. As far as possible, test cars on your list (including from different makes) on the same 'representative' roads so they can be more easily compared.

Besides the firm ride, I also prefer the non-Sport (or range-topping GTi-type) models as they often offer far better value for money with decent specs and often very good handling and acceptable perfomance. I looked at the Golf GT 1.4 (now 1.5) TSi and its SEAT Leon equivalent (FR - better value) as both are quicker than the Mazda (even in 165 form) in everyday driving without the need to thrash the pants of it to make progress. Unfortunately, that Golf (especially in the far rarer 3rd form) doesn't come with climate control as standard for UK spec cars (it does in the Leon, including the 3dr SC).

As such, I couldn't source a cheaper showroom car for the Golf and wasn't prepared to pay for a new one (little in the way of discounts - about £6k more expensive than the equivalent 3 after discounts). The Leon was a good all-rounder and I was tempted, as they were priced (after discounts) similarly to the Mazda, but in the end my work situation changed and I still have some reservations about VAG engineering quality (reliability as I keep my cars a LONG time). Those cars now come on 18in rims too.

Sometimes, if you have the money, you can downspec the wheels and tyres to smaller ones, but only if the brakes haven't been uprated to ones that only fit the OEM wheel size. My Mazda3 (mk1 from 2005) has 15in brakes and thus when one of my alloys needed changing (corroded and the tyre leaked) and my tyres were a year away from needing replacement, I decided to change from 16in alloys to (still OEM type) 15in alloys and tyres all around.

The difference was only £100 and I'd be getting four, not one new alloy wheels (the other old ones would likely go the same way as the mishapen/corroded one soon and thus need repacling anyway) as the 15in OEM alloys were only 60% of the price of the 16in ones, and the tyres were about 20% cheaper. The other good things were a more cushioned ride, the tyres would last longer and they and the (smaller) alloys would be less susceptible to kerbing type damage, with a small (not very noticeable) reduction in handling ability (more than acceptable for a car that already handles very well - and I'd already driven a TS model with the 15in tyres before and that drove fine).

Changing out wheels and tyres on a new car, unless you have money to burn, isn't that sensible, as you'll never make back the money they cost by flogging the OEMs on Ebay etc. You might get 50-60% back on a ordinary car, which is what the 3 is. That likely means it'll cost you (if its actually possible) best part of £500 - £600 overall to do so. Like me, it might be worth doing that (if you can stomach the 18in's ride for a few years) after 3-5 years for the same reasons I did, as the smaller wheels and tyres will be significantly cheaper than just changing the 18in tyres for some more - Mazda's alloys are unfortunately not renowned for their corrosion resistance, at least those of the mk1 an 2, hence why I changed mine.

The last gen cars alloys may be better, so its worth checking if you are considering this at any stage by checking out early examples of the latest Mazda3 (from 2014) to see if their alloys are not corroding or that much. Bear in mind all large alloys coupled with lower profile tyres are far more susceptable to damage than more 'standard' sized ones like Mazda's 205/60 R16 (or my old 205/55 R16s and replacement 195/65 R15)

I think for you, it'll be whether you, on the Mazda3, find the performance of the Sport 165 (which is hard to get hold of - not many sold/on forecourts) that much different than the 120PS version in the SE, SE-L (including Nav variants) and standard Sport Nav - are you prepared to really give it some welly to get the performance out of either, or do you want a more 'comfortable' car (ride wise) that still has a decent amount of poke for overtaking and the occasional spirited driving.

To me, the test drives (for the 3 and any others you may consider) are the key - numbers on paper/a screen often don't mean much. Just don't go over what you can afford (including longer term running/maintenance costs) - unless you have to change your car, then saying no now means (if you save up for a while longer) saying yes to an affordable one you REALLY like later on.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Steveieb
Excellent Advice Andy as she needs to decide this week as the contract car goes back .
The best of the non main dealer cars seem to be at Motorpoint which have the balance of manufacturers warranty
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Engineer Andy
Excellent Advice Andy as she needs to decide this week as the contract car goes back . The best of the non main dealer cars seem to be at Motorpoint which have the balance of manufacturers warranty

That's where I got mine from, but mine was a delivery mileage only car. You won't find many Mazdas there though nowadays - numbers sold in the UK/EU more generally is significantly smaller than when Ford owned them when I bought mine in early 2006, so there's little over supply.

I just looked on their website and they only have two Mazda3s for sale - a diesel (no), and a standard 2.0 petrol SE-L Nav that's 17 months old. You may find, as there's no many on offer, that local main dealers can get very near or even match that price, and you have slightly more peace of mind that the car will be their problem should something go wrong, rather than Motorpoint's (even if its a warranty issue). You'd need to confirm that any service/maintenance work done on the Motorpoint car was done at a Mazda dealership (it probably was, but worth checking).

As you don't have much time to go (you really should've done this exercise weeks ago and decided by now but hey, you are where you are), you may need to scale back your aspirations as regards performance, make sure your budget is air tight and get a car that is comfortable, reliable and cheap to run. Very few cars these days will be terrible, even in the handling dept - most of the 'less good' ones tend to be 'safe' - which really means you can't chuck them around like you're going rallying or make some iffy overtakes.

You may find, as its coming up to the next reg change on 1st Sept, that dealerships of most makes are offering better deals in order to shift current reg stock to achieve their monthly and quarterly/6 month sales figures for their bonus. Motorpoint isn't really affected as much, and most of their cars like mine (including del miles only imports from RHD EU nations) tend to arrive on their forecourts in the months AFTER the reg change. I saw back in 2016 some very nice Golf GT 1.4 150PS cars imported from the EU and going for £17k (with climate control as standard, unlike UK spec cars) and was sorely tempted, even if they were 5dr models (17in alloy versions).

Motorpoint currently has about 10% less cars in stock at present than back then (about a year ago) as many of the brand new car oversupply from the rest of the RHD EU market has disappeared, so most cars on their website are back to the normal ex-hire 1-2 yo variety.

I still think its worth her, other than the Mazda 2 (1.5 90PS) or 3 (120PS SE/SE-L Nav), looking at SEATs and Skodas in 1.0T and 1.4T form with more sensible 55 and above profile tyres. Get out there test driving, and make sure the driving mosition is as good as they can get it for a long test drive (on a variety of roads, including twisty and poorly surfaced ones, especially if they form part of the ones often used) so the experience is as close to living with it as is possible.

Make sure the car's space is sufficient as well (boot included) for all needs and drivers/passengers - you'd be surprised at how many people fail to check both these issues when looking to buy a car. Too many people buy on looks and performance alone, which is you see so many cars on sale that have obviously been PXed after just a few months at a rival make's dealership. That must cost them a fortune in depreciation, or if on a PCP type deal penalties or having to endure a car they hate for 3 years.

It is, after all, the largest purchase you'll ever make outside of buying a home.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Steveieb
Many thanks Andy

This information is invaluable as my daughter needs to find a car this week if possible as the contract car needs to be returned
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Engineer Andy

No problem - just make sure she doesn't leave it so late next time. Start a preliminary search a good 6 months (at least, more if you can) before you need to hand a car back or when you intend to change (ordinary buyers), then you have sufficient time to be able to make the purchase when its most beneficial to you financially as well as hopefully getting the exact (or at least the best within reason) car you can that meets your requirements.

At the very least, doing so early enough knocks off many possibles from the initial list, narrowing it down to 2 or 3 (say), and even if a new model appears on the scene, at least you only have to look into that one rather than 6 or more within a few days or weeks, especially if you're busy with other things as most people are.

When I bought my Mazda3 back in Jan 2006, I also looked at a Ford Focus, Honda Jazz and Civic, and looked into alternative (quite new back then) ways of buying, including via brokers. The most the local Mazda dealers would go to was £12k (list price about £13k or so) for a 1.6 N/A petrol TS (I always wanted the 4dr saloon) - but spending that extra time researching meant I cam up with the same car via a reputable broker for £11.4k.

I kept an eye on Motorpoint for del miles cars at low prices (most were RHD imports from the EU) as there were lots around back then (the industry as a whole was way oversupplied), and lo and behold my luck was in that a TS2 EU spec model (Climate control [not on the TS], plus front fog lamps in lieu of no TC/SC and CD player [just a radio] - EU spec difference - weird) but in the colour (silver) and seat trim (black with red dots) I wanted for only £10299 + prep charge (£65 if I recall). 15 miles (del), unregistered on the clock and built in Oct 2005, so nearly all the warranty intact. Needless to say I bit their hand off, and got another £150 off when I found on inspection the car only had a radio - they described it as having a CD player.

I saved a whopping £1100 (not counting their error) off the lowest other price and got a better specced car to boot (I've not missed the TC/SC and ironically [and luckily] that's the only part that has required a recall on that model) - £1700 off the dealer lowest price - so I spent £500 or so on optional extras (CD with MP3 facility [disc], cassette player [I'm a 1980s man], boot line, mud flaps and floor mats) and still had enough left over to spend on a nice holiday. Loved the car and its still going strong today. It pays to get ahead of the game.

Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Steveieb
Finally decided on a one owner SE 120 from the main dealer
24 k miles .15 plate with Mazda dealers warranty.

There is no trade in obviously but is there anything to check at this late stage before signing ?

Many thanks once more
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - SLO76
“There is no trade in obviously but is there anything to check at this late stage before signing ? ”

Should be fine if it’s an approved used example from a main dealer but check for poor paint repairs carefully as some do slip the net and any will deteriorate quickly. Otherwise I’d ask to have a printout of the service history to check and retain even ask for a service book which you can then have stamped at every service which helps resale rather than forcing potential buyers to check with the dealer for online records.
Mazda 3 2litre petrol - Replacement for contract car - Steveieb
Thanks again SLO

Great advice to which I added for her to check for two keys.

 

Ask Honest John Right column

Value my car