Mazda has a lot to be proud of. For one, it recently posted that over a million units of its SkyActiv Technology-fitted models – CX-5, Mazda6 and Mazda3 – have been produced globally.
The other, is that the new Mazda3 is an absolute stunner!
And for Malaysians, the latest iteration of the Mazda3 comes fully imported from Japan which boasts a 2.0L engine and a price tag of RM138,950.80 (on-the-road with insurance).
At this price point, the Mazda3 has its fair share of competition, especially from other Japanese marques.
But why would you pick this over the rest?
If you’re shallow, like me, then you would snap it up based on its looks alone! When you drive a car that looks this sporty, you feel good about yourself. I know I did when I reviewed this car.
Design-wise, there’s really nothing to find fault with. It has flowing lines, curvaceous from front-to-end; its lean appearance with a crouching stance, just like a predator ready to strike, is simply stunning.
This is no coincidence, of course, as Mazda has adopted its Kodo: Soul Of Motion as part of its design theme, which is based on the beauty of a wild animal ready to pounce.
Wait for nightfall and discover how dangerous this Mazda3 looks with the new sleek and minimal headlamp and taillight design.
It really does look like the eyes of a wild creature on the prowl. And like all stealthy creatures, you won’t notice this during the day.
The headlamps are Bi-Xenon with auto-levelling and has LED daytime running lights (DRL) to boot.
The front end of the car is all business, too, with its low-hanging grille which is sharper and neater in appearance and the slightly raised rear is ... pert.
To top it off, it comes in 18-inch wheels wrapped in 10-spoke alloys and the colour, Soul Red Metallic, is just the right shade for this car.
It also comes in Snowflake White Pearl Mica, Titanium Flash Mica and Meteor Gray Mica.
Step inside and things get really interesting. I, for one, was really taken aback with the minimal dashboard design.
You see, I’m quite used to dealing with a dashboard flushed with buttons and knobs.
That’s not the case with the Mazda3. Right at the top of the centre dash sits the upright seven-inch display which houses the MZD Connect for infotainment, navigation and Bluetooth connectivity.
Below that are the air-con vents, followed by three metallic-ringed knobs for climate control.
The centre console is where you will find the “commander control” which consists of one big metallic-ringed knob surrounded by five switches to access the MZD Connect system.
You’ll also find the centre armrest which houses two USB ports, an SD-card slot and the 12-volt socket.
The leather wrap steering wheel has red stitching, paddle shifters and controls for making calls and browsing through the infotainment system.
The Mazda3 has keyless entry with a push start system, electric sunroof and fabric seats, which I thought looked too slim to be comfortable. I was wrong!
The padding is soft and comfy and the driver’s seat fits you in quite snugly.
It is spacious enough for rear passengers though taller people may find legroom a bit wanting, but there is a fair amount of headroom.
Now, what’s it like to drive the new Mazda3?
This is where the SkyActiv technology plays a huge role because it’s embedded in the engine, the SkyActiv-G, a
direct injection, in-line four-cylinder DOHC with 16 valves mated to the SkyActiv-Drive six speed transmission system.
It’s capable of producing 162hp at 6,000rpm and 210Nm of torque at 4,000rpm.
The SkyActiv Technology is also present in the car’s body, aptly named SkyActiv-Body, designed for increased rigidity, safety performance and lighter weight.
And then, there is the SkyActiv-Chassis which consists of the electronic power steering (EPAS) and the suspension which features MacPherson struts in the front and multi-link in the rear.
This chassis is designed to enhance the driving experience and the feeling of unity with the vehicle. It’s what Mazda calls Jinba Ittai.
Mazda deserves a pat on the back because it does exactly that.
I enjoyed driving this car. The ride was smooth with a firm and comfortable suspension. The steering was accurate and responsive. It was relaxing to drive in city traffic and even crawling conditions with very low levels of NVH (noise, vibration and harshness).
And it’s exhilarating when driven fast; it has composure and stability; and when it comes to corners, the Mazda3 rules!
Mazda has the i-stop idling system which turns off the engine when you come to a full stop, to save on fuel as well as the i-eloop regenerative braking system. Safety-wise, it has six airbags, anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA).
The only niggle I had really was the exhaust note. To me, it lacked “oomph”. A bit more throaty and this car would have scored more brownie points. But that’s hardly the deal-breaker here.
There are certain features, for a car at this price, which are not available such as reverse camera, auto lamps, dual zone air-con and cruise control.
The more I drove the car however, I realised that I really didn’t miss those features.
When a car looks this good and drives even better, you’ll understand what it is you’re paying for.