The Mazda3 has always been a character in my eyes. Back in college, my wealthy friends either had a beautifully-restored Honda Civic, a current-generation CR-V, or a Mazda3 sedan. I was already in love with the Mazda3 back then and honestly, I still do today.
This year, Mazda decided that the brand should cross the premium category. The word premium is such a strong word to use in a mass-market vehicle but the Japanese automaker did it anyway because frankly, it can. Just look at the entire Mazda car lineup. If the Kodo styling alone doesn’t entice you, read further for an in-depth look at what you’ll like (and what you won’t) in the Mazda3 in its 2.0 Premium sedan variant in the Philippines.
Hatchbacks will always have a special place in my heart but this time, the Mazda3’s sedan version takes the cake from its 5-door brother. The sedan exudes class, while the Mazda3 Sportback looks something that’s ready to go fast.
Truth is, I am more inclined to go for the sporty Mazda3, but I think the sedan version has a better proportion than its hatchback counterpart. The added chromes on the sedan’s bumper didn’t take away from the overall look, sans the Sportback-exclusive Polymetal Gray color and gunmetal 18-inch rims that I absolutely adore, by the way.
Beyond those deviations, the execution of the evolved Kodo design language fits the Mazda3 sedan quite well. Everything looks just right so yes, I adore the overall look, especially with the array of LEDs that the car comes with.
The feeling while you’re inside the Mazda3 is akin to what you feel when you’re in love – everything just feels so right, like each and every part of the cabin are in the right places. Just like the 3 Sportback, it’s kind of hard not to fall in love with the totality of the 3 sedan’s interior. It just stands by the Premium outlook that the brand is going for.
But as with a lot of relationships, there are things in the Mazda3 that you’ll still have to compromise with. The space at the back is like when you’re four years down the line – a little suffocating especially if one gets a little needy. The shiny plastics around the gear lever and by the doors are a little sensitive to scratches, too. But hey, if you love it, then these things won’t be hard to turn a blind to, right?
As for cargo space, the Mazda3 has the advantage over the hatchback with a quite spacious trunk, which can be expanded by folding the rear backrests. Tall cargo won't be possible, though, so the choice between a sedan and a hatchback is really relative to your predicted usage.
As there’s not much of a mechanical difference between the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback, the ride comfort of both cars are in parallel with each other. The leather seats are soft and supportive, plus the stiff suspension setup is a joy to have on winding roads. It’s quite flexible, too, and with minimal recoil, which makes running over road bumps negligible.
Another notable thing in the Mazda3 is the way the car isolates outside noise from the cabin. The growl of the engine permeates at times, but it isn’t annoying as with other cars. Plus, turning up the sound from the 12-speaker Bose system easily drowns out any unwanted noise.
Technology is, of course, the Mazda3’s strongest suit. As the top-spec Premium trim, it’s filled to the brim with high-tech features such as auto-high beam and adaptive headlights, radar cruise control with lane-keeping aid, a usable heads-up display, and a 360-degree-view monitor with a high-resolution display. The last one is connected to the car’s proximity sensors, so it automatically activates once the sensors detect an obstacle nearby.
Those mentioned tech toys are on top of what’s expected at this price point such as 10-way power-adjustable seats, rain-sensing wipers, a frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, push-start ignition, keyless door locks with passive entry, and an 8.8-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
I may have missed something here but honestly, the heft of tech features will overwhelm those who don’t need them. On the flip side, those who adore tech features in cars will certainly fall in love with the Mazda3.
Technology and safety are always intertwined. As such, the Mazda3 doesn’t fall short in this department as well. Seven airbags, ABS with EBD, stability control, seatbelt reminder for all passengers, pedal misuse alert, and ISOFIX child seat tethers – these all come with the Premium variant, and then more.
For the first time, the Mazda3 comes equipped with Mazda’s I-Activsense, a suite of additional safety features. This includes the aforementioned radar cruise control with lane-keeping aid, along with blindspot monitors on both sides, smart brake support, rear cross-traffic alert, and driver monitoring. The sedan gets an advantage with an extra front cross-traffic alert, too.
Driving & Handling
Balanced and obedient – those were the two words that best describe how the Mazda3 performs on the road. On normal driving conditions (a.k.a. I don’t feel like driving fast today), the Mazda3 was behaved and didn’t overwhelm me with power. On fast drives, however, the 152 hp and 200 Nm of torque from the naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter engine provided enough power to comply with aggressive accelerator inputs. The 6-speed automatic gearbox shifted spritely without delay. Manual shifting through the paddles and the gear lever is available, but I didn’t feel the need to use them.
As for handling, the Mazda3’s weighted steering provided engaging road feedback. The G-Vectoring Control Plus feature also gave me confidence in tackling adverse road types. Within the city and tight spaces, the 3 sedan was easy to place on the road, thanks largely to the four cameras guarding the car visually.
Even with an 8-kg weight disadvantage against its hatchback counterpart, the Mazda3 sedan posted almost the same fuel economy during my tests. On the highway, I got 21.8 km/L with the cruise control set at 90 km/h. I was able to clock in good numbers on provincial drives, too, at 15.8 km/L at an average speed of 60 km/h.
Within the confines of the city, however, the Mazda3 returned not-so-impressive fuel efficiency figures at 7.4 km/L during a snail-paced traverse on EDSA.
It’s refreshing to know that the Mazda3 that I come to fell in love with back in the day stayed the same. Granted, its price tag has ballooned from what it was 10 years back – retailing at P1,495,000 as of this writing – but considering all the things I’ve mentioned here, including the limited cabin space, the Mazda3 provides the best value you could get with your money. It’s a premium car with a non-premium price tag, and you definitely need to get in one in order for you to understand what I mean by that.