The Mazda3 is one of Australia's most popular vehicles, and not just in the small car segment but outright in overall vehicle sales. It was the best-selling vehicle of the year in 2011 and 2012. Why is it so popular?
One of the top priorities for small vehicle buyers in Australia is interior space and ease of use. The Mazda3 is one of the largest in the segment, offering up to 408 litres of boot space in the case of the sedan. Front seat accommodation is uncluttered yet cosy and intimate, while rear-seat space is among the best in the class. All of the controls are well-thought out in terms of position, and a majority of the interface sits high up on the dash so your line of sight doesn't need to wonder too far from the road ahead.
Everyone wants to own a great-looking car. But when you're talking about an entry-level segment, with prices hovering around the $20k mark, there's only so much a manufacturer can do due to a number of constraints such as safety and production costs. The latest Mazda3 seems to sweep these confines into the dustbin. The 3 is a gorgeous-looking vehicle from every angle. Sharp contours, stylish trimmings, and some prestige elements make it one of the most attractive small cars currently on the market. It's all well-proportioned too, with a similarly appealing interior presentation.
Mazda has been banging on about its 'SkyActiv' sub-brand for a couple of years now. What is it? Essentially, this is Mazda's technology philosophy. It's an engineering focus that aims to make every major component of its vehicles as fuel efficient as possible. From the engine, transmission, to the body construction, the latest Mazda3 is now more fuel efficient than ever thanks to SkyActiv. While the previous model (before 2014) was about average or even slightly above in terms of fuel consumption figures, the new model is 30 per cent more economical. On the official average cycle the 2.0-litre versions use just 5.7L/100km, while the powerful, 138kW 2.5-litre examples use an impressively low 6.0L/100km. A 129kW turbo-diesel is also on the way promising an average consumption of just 5.0L/100km.
Australians love popular products. It's like a seal of approval knowing that so many other like-minded people have bought the same thing. We can also make more informed decisions using each other's feedback. This is the Mazda3's domain. It is very popular. In fact, over 3000 examples of the 3 are sold every single month. And it's been that way for years. During 2013, a whopping 42,082 examples drove off the showroom floors. There's no need for a car salesman, they simply sell themselves.
If you're in the small car market, chances are you're after something that you can depend on every day of the year. This is not the rare old sports car market or the inevitability expensive large SUV segment. Australians want something reliable here. The Mazda3 has a proven track record when it comes to reliability. It's built on a fool-proof formula that Mazda takes very seriously and pours a lot of investment into. Need proof? The last Mazda3 to be recalled in Australia was for models produced between 2008 and 2009, concerning a potential minor windscreen wiper motor issue. When it comes to reliability, the Mazda3 is one of the very best.
Even though those in the small car market are after something efficient, performance is also desirable. Mazda offers two engine choices for the 3, including a 114kW 2.0-litre and a 138kW 2.5-litre. Both of these units are among the most powerful in the class, especially the 2.5. It isn't trying to be a full-blown hot hatch, yet with 138kW, it certainly drives like one.
We all want a range of goodies and nicknacks with our next new car, but we don't want a daunting list of options to tick off. Fortunately, the latest Mazda3 is packaged well right from the start. Regardless of what variant you go for, must-have condiments such as Bluetooth phone connectivity, multi-format audio playback, cruise control, keyless entry and start, engine stop-start, pollen-filtered air-conditioning, and of course all of the safety systems that help it achieve a full five-star ANCAP safety rating are all standard fitment. If you go for any variants above the base model Neo - Maxx and SP models - you also get a comprehensive infotainment display with sat-nav, internet connectivity and a reversing camera.
In this very competitive segment you want to know you're getting good value from your hard-earned money. With the Mazda3, customers appreciate a long-list of features and three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Again, if you go for the mid-range Maxx or the flagship SP25, it's hard to see how Mazda brings it all together for just $22,990 (RRP for manual Maxx).
The Mazda brand is well-known to Australians. It's been a strong part of the auto market for over 50 years now, offering a wide range of products suitable for a variety of purposes. Most Australians will only buy from a brand they can trust. Through word of mouth and sheer longevity and market presence, the Mazda3 has earned itself a highly regarded reputation.
The small vehicle market can be quite somber, with many manufacturers presenting the bare minimum in terms of driving enjoyment in this class. That's not the case with the Mazda3. It serves up a genuinely spirited and spritely package. It's composed over Australia's tough roads and sporty along some of our better ones. The steering is communicative and active, and the engine is lively and playful. From the first drive, buyers feel assured that their Mazda3 is a companion and not simply an emotionless product.