Carzone tests the stylish new Mazda3 on Irish roads
Pros: Striking styling, interior quality, standard equipment and technology
Cons: No dedicated-hybrid or electric options, rivals more exciting to drive
The hotly-anticipated new Mazda 3 has arrived in Ireland and it has evolved rather significantly for 2019. The fourth generation model boasts a brand new platform, with an overhauled interior, striking styling from every angle and even mild-hybrid technology for the first time. The Mazda 3 lines up against other best-selling family hatchbacks including the Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla Hybrid and Volkswagen Golf. We recently spent time driving the new Mazda 3 Hatchback on Irish roads to see how it has evolved and what it is like to live with day to day.
The new Mazda 3 is wonderfully elegant and kudos must go to Mazda's design team, as it attracts lots of attention and admiration out on the road. Both five-door hatchback and four-door saloon variants are available, though the hatchback is the most striking to look at, with its low-slung front grille, circular LED headlights, sloping roof and focused rear haunches. The Mazda 3 is equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and electric folding mirrors in base specification GS guise, while our range-topping GT Sport test car features upgraded 18-inch alloy wheels and snowflake white metallic pearlescent paint.
The Mazda 3's interior has certainly improved in terms of terms of comfort, technology and general fit and finish. The cabin carries a conventional look, with a neat dashboard arrangement, intuitive infotainment and eye-catching digital displays. The Mazda 3's infotainment system has improved significantly and it's very user friendly and can be operated via steering wheel controls or through a circular dial alongside the driver's armrest. Everythng feels well constructued, and the leather upholestery in our high specification test car lends it a premium feel. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard for seamless smartphone connectivity, while there is a pair of USB ports for charging on the go. The driving position is very comfortable with a wide range of steering wheel and seat adjustment available to get comfy. The Mazda 3 can accommodate four adults in comfort, though leg room in the middlemost rear seat is somewhat restricted. Boot space is reasonable at 358 litres of room, while the rear seats drop down when extra space is required.
The Mazda 3 launches to the market with a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre 120bhp petrol engine or an all-new 1.8-litre turboocharged diesel unit with 114bhp. Both of these engines feature mild-hybrid technology, which runs the Mazda 3's electric system through braking regeneration. We drove the 2.0-litre petrol with a six-speed manual transmission, and it’s surprisingly economical, thanks to Mazda’s Skyactiv cylinder shut-off technology. It isn’t as exciting to drive as we would have hoped however, with 0-100km/h taking circa 10.4 seconds and moderate low down power delivery. That said, it 's rather economical with fuel economy rated at 6.4l/100 kilometres under the WLTP protocol, while annual motor tax is rated at €200. The more economical 1.8-litre diesel offers similar performance credentials and is likely to prove more popular with Irish buyers, with lower overall running costs.
The Mazda 3 benefits from new underpinnings and revised suspension which means it is more convincing to drive than before too. Cabin noise has reduced significantly, and it’s quiet and refined even at motorway speeds. Take the Mazda 3 onto backroads and it’s smooth and confidence-inspiring, with lots of grip from the front wheel drive system, though it's not quite as exciting as the comparable Ford Focus. The majority of family hatchback buyers won’t mind this however, and the Mazda 3 meets the grade in terms of comfort, ride quality and overall refinement.
The Mazda 3 features all sorts of safety tech as standard, including blind spot monitoring, driver attention alert, Mazda's radar cruise control, emergency brake assist, hill hold assist and automatic wipers and lights. There's also a pair of ISOFIX mounts for family buyers, with enough room to fit two large child seats.
Prices and features:
Prices for the new Mazda 3 from €26,295 in hatchback guise, or €28,715 for the larger saloon. There are four different specifications to choose from, including GS, GS-L, GT and a range-topping GT Sport model. The entry level GS is very well equipped, with 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a driver's heads up display, rear parking sensors, manual air conditioning, a leather steering wheel, cruise control, digital dashboard and the 8.8-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. GS-L specification adds front parking sensors, automatic air conditioning and various other upgrades.
The GT (starting from €29,645) adds 18-inch alloy wheels, black leather upholstery and heated seats, heated folding mirrors, a reversing camera, smart keyless entry, a heated leather steering wheel and various other upgrades. The range-topping GT Sport leaves little to be desired, with added LED headlights, a frameless rear-view mirror and a superb 12 speaker BOSE sound system.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
While many of us are gravitating towards SUV -style vehicles, the new Mazda 3 is a prime example of why the hatchback remains suitably relevant. It’s highly refined, with a simply crafted interior and striking styling to match. The new 3 has taken a significant step forward in terms of build quality, while the new tech and infotainment is clear and easy to use. Both of the petrol and diesel engines are somewhat underpowered than rival offerings, and as such it isn’t as fun to drive, which only matters if that’s your thing. In terms of practicality, certain rivals offer more interior storage too. As an all-round proposition, the new Mazda 3 delivers in most areas however, and it offers a fresh alternative to the rest of the class.