Mazda 3 Review 2024
Mazda 3 At A Glance
On average it achieves 0% of the official MPG figure
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. Our Mazda 3 review will find out if it's the full package.
Is there a better looking hatchback (or affordable saloon) out there than the latest Mazda 3? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but we're utterly convinced it's easily as desirable as premium brand rivals such as the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
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, while the Mazda 3 Saloon offers slightly more head and shoulder space back there.
Continuing the driver-focussed theme, the Mazda 3 is as good to drive as the 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 the smoothest possible 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, though, and they certainly help the car's design.
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 just a few months after the car was launched, replaced by a clever 180PS (upgraded in late 2021 to 186PS in the e-Skyactiv X) mild-hybrid Skyactiv-X petrol engine which is said to provide diesel-like economy. None of them are actually all that fast, so if you want a hot hatchback look elsewhere, but they're perky enough for most people's needs.
To overlook the latest Mazda 3 in your search for a sensible smaller family car 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 an older model? You'll need our Mazda 3 (2014-2019) review