Mazda 3 Review 2022

Mazda 3 At A Glance


+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

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.

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Can you recommend a car for a £11,000 budget?
"I am desperately trying to make a decision on a car to buy. I have a £10,000/£11,000 budget and have narrowed my choice down to the Honda Jazz, Mazda 2, Skoda Rapid, Toyota Yaris, Kia Ceed and Hyundai i20. I mainly drive in traffic in London but will be doing the occasional very long drive (to France) with a 6ft teen and my 9 year old daughter so I need decent space and also something that can cope on motorways and isn't going to rattle around. I want a reliable car that's not going to be a money pit. Ideally, still newish (max reg 2018). Ideally I'd like parking sensors, sat-nav etc. I've sat/tried all the cars apart from the Hyundai. I really liked the Mazda, it felt quite plush, well-equipped but the boot is quite small and space at the back isn't amazing. I liked the Jazz but I thought it felt rattly and really basic. The Yaris also felt cheap and plasticky. "
The Mazda 2's a great little car but smaller than others on your list – it probably comes down to whether you're willing to compromise on space to get a newer, more generously equipped car. How about a Mazda 3? You'll be looking at an older example for the money but they're generally very reliable and it sounds like it could be ideal for your needs. You should be able to find the latest (2017 on) Hyundai i30 in budget – that would be a good alternative.
Answered by Andrew Brady
First car in my sixties - what do you recommend?
"I have always had a company car and now at retirement I am faced with buying and insuring my first car. I am finding choice bewildering and insurance expensive. I live in London, park on the street and would prefer an automatic. I have loved my company Volkswagen Golfs but I'm concerned that one might be expensive to run and maintain. I love the solid feel of the Golf and road handling compared to, say, a Toyota Yaris which felt ‘tinny’ and insecure on a motorway test drive. What would you recommend on a budget of £10,000-15,000?"
We'd recommend a Volkswagen Polo. You should be able to find the latest model (launched in 2017) within budget with the DSG automatic gearbox. It'll feel just like a miniature Golf... although the latest Polo isn't actually that small. Alternatively, stick with what you know and look for a seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf. Buy one with the 1.4 TSI petrol engine and it should be a very dependable choice that won't cost a lot to run. As a slightly left-field alternative, consider a Mazda 3. It'll be well built, stylish and cheap to run.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Do Mazda 3s have battery problems?
"Do new Mazda 3s suffer from battery problems? We went for a test drive today and the salesperson had to charge the battery before the car would start. This seemed to be a regular occurrence!."
Not that I'm aware of. It's probably just because the car is sitting on the forecourt unused, it's not unheard of for dealers to pull out the battery pack before a test drive. We list all the issues we're aware of on the car. Old Mazda 3: New Mazda 3:
Answered by Russell Campbell
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
More Questions

What does a Mazda 3 cost?