Mazda 3 (2014 – 2019) Review

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.

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

We need a car that is safe and has low insurance costs, what would you suggest?

"Please can you advise. We will be moving to Salisbury city centre and no longer need a Jag XF diesel sadly - wrong car for less use and urban. Having decided on a Honda Jazz 2014 SE that was safe, well built and in great condition, the insurance was very high. I see this is due to thefts of cat converters. It also seems to be an issue with other cars like the Auris. We were planning to spend around £7-9K max. So we wanted something very reliable, very safe, and low insurance mainly for shorter trips with the odd longer. Also an automatic is vital. So this has thrown us. Can you suggest any possible models that fit our criteria?"
We would suggest looking for a small petrol automatic, which should keep running costs down and be ideal for urban, short journeys. You could consider cars such as the Mazda 2 and 3, Honda Civic, Kia Ceed and Hyundai i120 and i30, all of which have good reliability records.
Answered by David Ross

Best used medium hatchback?

"I'm looking to buy a used medium sized hatchback and wondering what you would recommend for £6,000? Or do I need to spend more like £8,000? I recently bought a 2009 Volkswagen Golf S TSI DSG 1.4 turbo petrol but the DSG had numerous faults so it's gone back to the dealer for a refund. I'm now back to square one and feeling a bit overwhelmed with the choice. Maybe there's also something different I haven't thought of. Maybe I need to think about spending more/getting a newer car. I mostly do short runs around the city (though try to walk mostly) and then away a few times on the motorway. I have one child with kit so need space and we often go camping in the summer, etc. I do need something safe, sturdy, reliable and efficient but which ideally also looks good. It doesn't have to be automatic."
Have you looked at the Kia Ceed or Hyundai i30? around £7,000-8,000 will get you a 2013 1.6 petrol version of either with a decent specification. They are reliable, well-made and nice to drive. Other cars we'd look at include the Mazda 3 2.0-litre petrol on a 2014 reg, plus the later generation of Ford Focus. Also consider a manual version of the Golf if you liked it - the DSG gearboxes can be prone to expensive problems but the manuals are less complex.
Answered by Lawrence Allan

Can you recommend a compact and comfortable car to replace my Mazda 3?

"Four years ago, recommended a Mazda 3 for me. I very much like it: it's comfortable, got good performance, and is very economical. However, I find it a bit big and the visibility is not as good as it can be, so I find it hard to park neatly. Where we live, there is now no new car dealers. The nearest ones sell Volkswagens, Citroens, and Vauxhalls. Further away is a Toyota dealer. The kind of motoring we do would lend itself to an electric car, but they are too expensive for me to buy and insure. Therefore a petrol car would be the best compromise. I feel that because of my age, I would need an automatic, as my left knee can give me trouble. Currently, my wife and I favour a Volkswagen, either a Golf or a Polo. But we are also open to the idea of a Toyota. I am not a petrolhead, but I want to be able to overtake safely and the car needs to be comfortable. What do you suggest I buy?"
If visibility and comfort are key issues then I wonder if you might be better with a small SUV. The Toyota C-HR is very comfortable and its raised driving position will provide an excellent view of the road. What's more, because it sits higher from the road, you won't need to bend down to get in/out and this means access will be a lot easier than your low-slung Mazda 3. The C-HR has an excellent reputation for reliability and the 1.8 petrol hybrid will return around 58mpg, according to Real MPG submissions: The Volkswagen T-Roc is also very good, it was ranked as one of the UK's best SUVs in our latest Satisfaction Index:
Answered by Dan Powell

Can we reject a Mazda 3 for a DPF issue?

"Four months since buying a 2014 Mazda 3 2.2-litre diesel and on the day of collection the DPF warning light came on. The garage has attempted to repair this but after several attempts the issue remains. They have cleaned the DPF, replaced a sensor, cleaned the fuel injectors, taken the DPF apart and removed ash from it. They have apparently been in contact with Mazda for guidance. Should we now reject the vehicle and ask for a refund or replacement with a similar spec of vehicle, insist they replace the DPF or be patient and allow them to continue attempting to resolve it?"
The DPF problem reads like a pre-existing fault, which means the dealer should give you a refund if they cannot repair the car. However, the refund will be subject to a fair deduction for the usage you've already had from the vehicle, which means you will not get all of your money back. For your consumer rights, see:
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions

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