Launched in 2019, the Mazda 3 stirred quite an interest among Malaysians, mostly due to its seductive design. There are 3 variants available – 1.5L, 2.0L High, 2.0L High Plus. Both the sedan and liftback are identically priced.
- 1.5L – RM 137,660
- 2.0L High – RM 145,119
- 2.0L High Plus – RM 154,679
*prices stated are OTR without insurance and SST, valid until 30 June 2021
The Mazda 3 competes against C-segment rivals such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Altis. If you’ve shortlisted the Mazda 3, here are its pros and cons to help with your buying decision.
- Seductive looks
- Premium interior
- Excellent driving experience
- Lower fuel consumption than rivals
- Pricier than main rivals
- Cramped interior
- MRCC doesn’t function at crawling speeds
Pros – Seductive looks
Design has always been subjective, but there’s usually a general consensus on whether a car looks attractive. And the general consensus on the Mazda 3’s design has been exceedingly favourable.
Plenty have likened to the Italian marques such as Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, and it’s easy to see why. It’s the flair, the sculptured finesse that reminds people of the Italians.
There are no creases or excessive sharp body lines. It’s all handcrafted goodness. If you happen across a Mazda 3 on the road, observe the reflections on the side. The way the curved panels manipulate light and shadows is simply mesmerizing.
Pros – Premium interior
Materials used throughout the interior of the Mazda 3 are among the best, if not the best in class. You get soft leather across the middle of the dashboard and door panels as well as parts of the centre console.
Mazda has also paid a lot of attention to details. The instrument cluster for example, has a 7-inch digital screen at the middle to replicate analogue dials and it blends perfectly with the dials surrounding it.
There are also the LEDs used throughout the cabin and every single one of them matches in colour temperature. All the buttons have this damped and tactile feel that gives the impression of premium-ness.
Pros – Excellent driving experience
Both the sedan and liftback share a very similar driving experience. Power from the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine is decent. It feels punchy enough at lower revs and will happily climb up to the redline, with a smooth and linear power delivery. The 6-speed automatic transmission deserves a shout-out as well, it feels direct and shifts are crisp.
Steering is nicely weighted, striking a fine balance between sportiness and comfort. The floor-mounted accelerator makes operating the pedal a more comfortable affair, particularly on long journeys.
The Mazda 3 feels right at home through the bends, body roll is kept in check while the GVC+ work its magic. When the car exits a corner and straightens up, there are no back and forth lateral movements, it just goes back to the neutral position and settles quickly.
Pros - Lower fuel consumption than rivals
The Mazda 3 returned calculated fuel consumption figure of 7.6-litre/100 km. In comparison, the turbocharged Honda Civic returned 7.9-litre/100 km and the Toyota Corolla Altis recorded 7.7-litre/100 km.
Cons – Pricier than rivals
Even the entry variant, the Mazda 3 1.5L, is priced at RM 137,660. Comparatively, the locally-assembled Honda Civic 1.5 TC-P, which is the range-topping variant with all the bells and whistles, is priced at RM 134,661. The Thailand-imported Toyota Corolla Altis 1.8G is priced at 134,505.
If we take the range-topping Mazda 3 2.0L High Plus for an apples-to-apples comparison, it’s RM 20k dearer than rivals at RM 154,769. This puts the Japan-imported Mazda 3 at a disadvantage.
Cons – Cramped interior
Space in the rear is rather tight for a car of this segment. This writer with his 177 cm frame has only 1 tennis ball of kneeroom, with my head nearly brushing against the headliner.
While legroom is identical for both versions, it feels more claustrophobic in the liftback because of the black headliner and tiny rear windows.
Cons – MRCC doesn’t function at crawling speeds
Main rivals like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Altis feature all-speed adaptive cruise control. It works from a standstill to assist driving in traffic jams, which is classified as level 2 semi-autonomous driving.
The Mazda 3’s adaptive cruise control (MRCC) only works at speeds above 20 km/h. Below that, it automatically disables.
The Mazda 3 is more than just a looker; the interior is properly premium and the driving experience matches the premium impression. It's also more fuel-efficient than its main rivals.
However, it’s pricier than its closest rivals, space in the rear is modest at best, and the adaptive cruise control doesn’t work at crawling speeds.
If space and practicality do not rank highest in your priorities, then the Mazda 3 is worth the premium.