MAZDA3 VIDEO REVIEW TRANSCRIPT
The Mazda3 is Australia’s most popular car – and there are plenty of great reasons for that. It’s right there in the consumer ‘sweet spot’ – where value, driving dynamics, fuel efficiency, build quality and standard features all collide. It’s no surprise that just about everyone is running away from gas-guzzling Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons, which no longer make much sense on Australian roads.
But don’t worry: The Mazda3 isn’t actually that small. It’s big enough on the inside for four people in most situations (and five in a pinch).
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More than 41,000 Mazda3s were sold in Australia in 2011. So, if you decide to buy one, you definitely won’t be alone.
There are some quirks in the lineup, but the Mazda3 is a safe, good looking, reliable, beautifully-built car that drives great. That’s why so many people buy them.
There are six models of Mazda3 with two body styles (a hatch and a sedan) and five engines – so buying a Mazda3 is just like going to Bing Lee for a new TV. There’s almost too much choice. When you show up at a Mazda dealer, he’s going to want to sell you one that he’s got in stock now – because the interest is burning a hole in his pocket. But you’re going to have to live with the choice for a few years, so it pays to pick the one you really do want.
Kicking off the range is the Mazda3 Neo. It’s a two-litre petrol four with decent performance and front-wheel drive. You get 15-inch alloy wheels and six airbags, and a choice of five-speed auto or six-speed manual. Plus air conditioning, cruise control, and steering wheel-mounted controls for the six-speaker audio system – but no Bluetooth. It’s pretty much aimed at fleets … and cheapskates.
Stepping up to the Maxx Sport is a much better deal. There’s the same drivetrain but more fruit – you get Bluetooth plus bigger tyres, a body kit, auto headlamps and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob, plus sat-nav.
Next up is the diesel, which is basically a carbon copy of the Maxx Sport, but with a really grunty 2.2-litre diesel engine. Twice the torque of the Maxx Sport, at half the revs – amazing. Bigger brakes, too. But unfortunately the diesel is available only with a manual transmission. So unless you really like changing gear for yourself the diesel’s unfortunately a scratching.
The Mazda3 Skyactiv is the fuel-efficiency model. This time, there’s no manual transmission. It’s automatic only, but it delivers the same performance as the Neo or Maxx Sport – with about 25 per cent better fuel consumption.
Next up, the SP25 offers more performance from a 2.5-litre petrol four, and a long list of luxury inclusions like bi-xenon headlamps, leather seats, a proximity smart key and 17-inch alloys.
At the top of the Mazda3 tree is the MPS – a serious hot hatch with 190 kilowatts from a 2.3-litre hi-tech direct injection turbocharged four driving through a six-speed manual gearbox. It’ll rocket from stopped to 100 kays an hour in just over six seconds, so its biggest problem is the potential impact on the longevity of your driver’s licence. But it’s great fun while it lasts.
Recommended Mazda3 retail prices range from just over $21,000 to just under $43,000 drive away – so there’s a pricepoint to suit just about everyone.
You can make two lists when it comes to the Mazda3. The things you like … and the things you don’t. The first list is pretty long – and we’ve already covered that. So here are the negatives: The Japanese are being squeezed by the South Koreans, who offer more features for the money. And you get a five-year warranty with unlimited kays from the Koreans, versus the Japanese three years or 100,000 kilometres. There’s no question Mazda could lift the warranty to checkmate the Koreans. Mazda has unsurpassed build quality, so the hit on the bottom line there would be minimal.
Secondly, it’s a shame only one engine in the range has the new ultra-efficient Skyactive technology – it’s a safe bet the next-generation Mazda3 will get Skyactiv across the board. And an auto hanging off the back of that diesel would be such a winner. So that’s a shame. But that’s it. It’s a pretty short list of negatives.
If you’ve got teenaged kids putting on that big growth spurt, you might stop and consider how well they’ll fit in the back of a Mazda3 in, say, three years’ time. If you do only short trips, you’ll be okay – but on long runs, interstate, the rear legroom might feel a bit cramped. Check out the Mazda6 or the Kia Optima if that’s a factor for you. We’ve got those video reviews online as well, at carreviews.com.au.
The Mazda3 is a great car to drive – if you’re into driving. And even if you’re not it’s beautifully built, practical and affordable. It’s everything cars like the Holden Cruze and Hyundai Elantra purport to be, but really aren’t.