REVIEW | Mazda’s 3 gets the basics done


Mazda launched its all-new Mazda3 in South Africa this year and the Japanese automaker has high hopes for its newest model. 

Available in both sedan and hatchback form, the new Mazda3 is driven by a fresh design, a heavily revised interior, and a cabin that puts the car in the territory of more premium offerings.

The Mazda3 1.5 Individual, in sedan guise, came in for review and the car impresses on numerous fronts.

Sold in more than 120 countries, the Mazda3 is the automaker's best-selling model and has, to date, sold over six million units since coming to market. Before adopting the Mazda3 moniker, this car was known as the Mazda 323; a living legend in South Africa’s automotive history.

READ: Going premium| Next-gen Mazda3 moves the Japanese bran d into a new era in SA

We take a critical look at the latest iteration of Mazda’s most successful product.

mazda,mazda 3,mazda3

                                 Image: Charlen Raymond

Splendid design cues

The car’s design does not stray too far from the previous model’s, and still gives clear hints that it is the 3. From the front, the grille has been enlarged with the badge taking centre stage just above the number plate. A chrome strip runs around it and leads to the headlights. These units, daytime-running LEDs, have a sharp and edgy design about them, yet they manage to project generous lighting in poorly lit conditions.

The side profile is somewhat bland when viewed in tandem with the front, but at least two big doors on either side provide easy entry and exit to the vehicle. At the rear, two chrome-tipped exhaust pipes sit on the outer edges of the bumper, while the darkened light clusters lend the car a sense of mystery. The boot, operated via a button underneath the badge or from the key fob, allows access to storage space of up to 444 ltres.

mazda,mazda 3,mazda3

                                 Image: Charlen Raymond

Premium-feel cabin

If you didn’t know, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the Mazda3’s interior for that of a German brand. Mazda really went above and over to improve the cabin and its feel, and it shows. This Individual is covered in leather seats, electric adjustment for the driver’s seat, keyless entry, heads-up display, and rake and reach adjustment for the steering wheel.

The use of soft-touch materials adorns the interior and the stitched leather where the panels meet further enhances the interior’s feel. The sense of space is carried throughout and one is never confronted with the feeling that you’re cramped; albeit a bit if you're a rear passenger.

What Mazda has to be commended on is its new and revised multimedia system. Operated from a knob between the front seats, users can navigate their way through a raft of features and easy-to-understand menus. A gripe, however, is that the system can’t keep up with swift commands. During the test period, the colour screen atop the dashboard would often freeze and can’t none of the menus could be accessed. The system would only reset after the car has been switched off and on. This does seem as if it could be fixed perhaps with a quick software upgrade.

mazda,mazda 3,mazda3

                                 Image: Charlen Raymond

Still no turbo engine?

Mazda is quite adamant that it will not be implementing turbo technology to their vehicles, bar diesel models. Whereas its Japanese rivals, such as Toyota and Honda, have gone the turbo route with the new Corolla and revised Civic, respectively, but Mazda is staying put with their non-turbo petrol engines.

This does have a profound effect on the car’s driveability, as well as how it copes on the road with four passengers and their luggage. The car’s 1.5-litre petrol engine produces a modest 88kW and 153Nm; the latter only available at a heady 4000rpm. The six-speed manual gearbox requires a bit of work to haul everything around and you have to judge an overtake carefully to prevent any chance of running out of steam or road.

Juggling life in the city is a different story, however. The Mazda3, with no weight penalty, is a joy to drive and the lightweight steering adds to driver enjoyment.

Thanks to stop/start technology (and a light foot), the 3 returned just under 7.0-litres/100km at the end of the test.

mazda,mazda 3,mazda3

                                 Image: Charlen Raymond


Mazda really went the extra mile with their new 3 and can one say with certainty that they will add to the six million units that’s already been sold. The car, as a whole, is well-specified and prospective buyers will certainly see their money’s worth.

The glitch with the multimedia might be unit-specific, but it is something the automaker has to look into.

The Mazda3 1.5 Individual sedan retails from R418 800 and comes standard with a three-year or unlimited kilometre service plan, as well as a three-year or unlimited km warranty.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Brought to you by
Voting Booth
Do you think Mercedes will return to form later in the 2022 F1 season after two poor races?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, don't discredit them.
33% - 617 votes
Who cares, F1 is exciting again!
44% - 820 votes
No, it's Ferrari's turn to dominate again.
23% - 440 votes