The Mazda3 is Australia’s top selling passenger car and comes as a hatch or sedan (SUV too with CX-30).
Not sure how many of each Mazda sells, but here at Cars4starters we’re big fans of the sedan, especially the more powerful 2.5-litre version.
Stick a GT badge on the back and it’s almost a lay down misere in terms of size and price.
Like the hatch, the cabin is focused on the driver to create a sense of harmony between car and driver, something Mazda call’s Jinba-ittai — the Japanese just love their concepts and acronyms.
What’s it cost?
Hatch and sedan are priced the same, with the action starting from $25,990 for the 2.0-litre G20 Pure.
The G25 GT with a larger more powerful 2.5-litre engine sits second from the top and goes for $34,290 plus on-roads — or $38,723 driveaway.
Standard equipment includes push-button start, electric handbrake, windscreen heads-up display, rain sensing wipers, auto headlights, auto high beam, LED head and tail lights, auto dimming rear view mirror, rear park sensors, 8.8-inch info display, satellite navigation, DAB+ digital radio, apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
By the time you get to the GT there’s leather, dual zone climate air, 18-inch alloys, Active Driving Display (head up), heated seats and steering wheel, auto folding, heated exterior mirrors and Bose premium audio.
Safety equipment across the range includes seven airbags, rear view camera, electronic stability control, Radar Cruise Control (MRCC) with Stop & Go, Smart Brake Support, Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR), Driver Attention Alert (DAA), Blind Spot Monitor (BSM), Lane-keep Assist System (LAS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Forward Obstruction Warning (FOW).
Metallic paint including the eye-catching Soul Red Crystal Metallic is $495 while the $1500 Vision Tech pack adds 360 degree View Monitor, Adaptive LED Headlights (ALH), Cruising & Traffic Support (CTS), Driver monitoring, Front Cross Traffic Alert (FCTA), and Smart Brake Support [Rear Crossing] (SBS-RC)
The car comes with Mazda’s five-year warranty and five-year Mazda Premium Roadside Assistance as standard.
What’s it go like?
After having driven literally thousands of test vehicles over the years, sometimes it takes only a few seconds to form an opinion.
The Mazda3 G25 GT impressed from the get-go with its looks, big car feel and general sense of quality.
The sedan is the larger of the trio, at 4661mm long, larger than the hatch at 4460mmn and larger in fact than the SUV which is actually smallest of the three at 4395mm.
Sedan and hatch share the same 2725mm wheelbase, while the CX-30 has a shorter 2655mm wheelbase, explaining its lack of rear legroom.
The 2.0-litre engine is good for 114kW of power and 200Nm at 4000 revs, while the 2.5-litre engine delivers 139kW and 252Nm — also at 4000 revs.
Skyactiv-G 2.5L also benefits from auto engine stop-start and cylinder deactivation to help reduce fuel consumption.
It’s paired with a 6-speed auto, with gear change paddles and sport mode.
The instrument cluster features three analogue style dials, although the centre one is actually LCD and can be configured to show different information.
The fuel gauge to the side with its distance to empty prediction is a nice and unexpected touch.
Steering, ride and handling are superb, and for a small car it’s got a big car feel, with a big car thump as the suspension soaks up the bumps.
Put it in manual mode, start pushing harder using the gear change paddles, and the car corners flat, with plenty of grip from the Toyo 215/45 series rubber.
The cabin feels luxurious, with leather, a stylish dashboard, windows that are all one-touch up/down and a long, impressive looking 8.8 inch computer screen that is set well back.
The design allows map and other information like turns and POIs to be displayed to one side of the screen — but the map is quite small in reality.
The current speed limit is also displayed.
Together with a single, standalone volume control, one gets the feeling Mazda has been benchmarking its vehicles against BMW which has a similar setup.
Unfortunately, it rained cats and dogs for the duration of our test program.
And, I might add, with surprising results, because the radar cruise control system spat the dummy, simply shutting down and refusing to operate (see pic).
This was not just temporary, but for several minutes at a time and we’re not sure what impact this had on the auto braking and other safety systems which rely on radar to judge distance from objects ahead?
Like I said — unexpected . . .
With a 51-litre tank, the car will happily run on standard 91 unleaded.