Swimming against the tide in the Mazda3

In the Australian new car market, passenger cars make up just 25% of all new cars sold, compared to almost 71% for SUVs and light commercial vehicles. Making cars like the Mazda3 a rarer sight on our roads, and in a time of greater environmental consciousness and downsizing of our urban areas, this is a bit of counter intuitive if you ask me.

Available in a hatch or sedan with three different engine options, including a mild hybrid, either manual or automatic gearbox and front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, you will be sure to find a combination to suit you. I spent a week in the G25 Astina hatchback in the glorious Soul Red Crystal metallic paint, which I think was as cute as a ruby slipper.    

My G25 Astina was FWD and powered by a 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine with 139kW of power and 252Nm of torque paired with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. This zippy little engine, wheel-mounted paddle shifters combined with a comfortable ride made it very enjoyable to drive. The official combined fuel efficiency is 6.6 L/100km and for my week I used 9.6L/100km.

A great thing about the Mazda3 range is that many safety features come standard across the range including Autonomous emergency braking (City, Interurban and Vulnerable Road User), lane keep assist with lane departure warning and a speed assist system (traffic sign information). ANCAP testing found the AEB system showed ‘Good’ performance with collisions avoided or mitigated in most test scenarios. Tests of the Lane Support System functionality showed ‘Adequate’ performance in lane keep assist tests, however the system does not intervene in more critical emergency lane keeping scenarios and overall performance was classified as ‘Marginal’. Overall the active safety assist features on all Mazda3 models received an ANCAP score of 76%.

My car also had adaptive cruise control, smart brake support for front and rear, blind spot assist that displays in the head-up display as well as on the mirror, and front and rear cross traffic alert. Plus a 360o view camera with front and rear sensors and reversing guidelines. I liked that I could set the system to display a priority camera view on start up.

All model variants in the Mazda3 range have a 5-star ANCAP (2019) with an Adult Occupant Protection rating of 37.5 out of 38 (98%) and a Child Occupant Protection rating 43.8 out of 49 (89%). They have seven airbags including dual frontal airbags, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting airbags (curtains), and a driver knee airbag.

The Mazda3 G25 Astina offers plenty of lux on the interior as well with leather seats and the fronts are even heated. The driver gets 6-way power adjustment with two memory settings, but passenger only gets manual adjustment.

The 8.8-inch screen is set back in the dash and controlled by the ‘Commander Control’ rotary knob. Infotainment features sav nav, Bluetooth connectivity for your phone and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and all are standard across the range.

The higher spec G25 Astina comes with a 12 speaker Bose stereo system and your media options include AM/FM radio, DAB, Bluetooth and USB. There is one USB and one 12V under the arm rest and at front of centre console are two cup holders, another USB port and a storage ledge for your phone. One thing I did notice was the plastic surround on the centre console on the car I drove was already showing signs of scratching.

Much to my delight, on the cold winter’s mornings we have been having, was the steering wheel on the G25 Astina was also heated. On the wheel is a man’s face (like many other marques) that designates the voice control activation. I found the voice control was good for setting a destination on the sat nav, selecting media and making phone calls.

The driver’s dash has two analogue dials on the outside and the centre dial is digital and configurable. The one thing that annoyed me here was there were two fuel gauges, one analogue and one digital and both showed different fuel levels. The driver also has head up display which worked well and was configurable for height, brightness, tilt and content including navigation, lane guidance and traffic sign recognition.

For back seat passengers there is adequate leg room for adults, but head room is limited and I found that I hit my head on the sill when I was getting in to try it out, due to the sloping roof line. There are two ISOFIX/three rear tether points for child seat restraints, but really only room for two car seats across the back and if two seats were fitted rear view vision would be impeded for the driver. The centre seat folds down and has two drink holders and there is drink bottle storage in the door cubby. Rear passengers only get air vents with on/off control and no USB or 12V outlets.

The boot is a good size for a small car and would fit a stroller and the weekly shop and if additional room is needed then the rear seats have 60/40 split folding functionality. It only has manual open/close but does include a button to lock the car when you close the boot down and you do get a space saver spare tyre.

All new Mazda vehicles are backed by a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty plus five year’s Mazda Premium Roadside Assistance. The service intervals are every 12 months or 10,000kms, whichever comes first. The cost for the first five services on the Mazda3 G25 Astina is $1,692.

The Mazda3 is a cute little hatchback swimming in a sea of SUVs, but with such good looks, standard safety technology and the connectivity of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, small cars like this should be on sonar of more buyers. The Mazda3 G25 Astina hatch starts at $38,590 plus on-road costs and as tested with Soul Red Crystal premium paint ($495) and front floor mats ($199.87) it was $39,284 plus on-roads. Visit your preferred Mazda dealer for more information about the Mazda3 range.

ProsCons
It’s cute lookingRear head room is limited for adults
Many safety features come as standardThe two fuel gauges showed different levels
Good head-up display systemNo USB/12V outlet for rear passengers

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.