New Mazda3

New 3 takes Mazda into even bolder era

Mazda’s 3 has an incredible heritage in South Africa — from those pioneering late ’seventies rear-wheel drive 323 hatchbacks through the first front driven versions and into the fuel-injected era and on through the EGis and the first Zoom Zoom Three, which dropped the two-three too. That was itself a good couple of decades ago and from there, Three evolved to the swoopy current generation car.

Now Mazda promises that this new seventh generation 3 sets a new milestone as it leads the brand into a bold, contemporary new era. Straight up, new Three’s latest Kodo design language is quite stunning, proportioned and balanced — and it seems first impressions really do predict great things to come. They say that the new Mazda 3 embodies the essence of Japanese aesthetics as light and reflections glide over the body surface in a richer and more powerful expression.

New Three comes in two quite individual hatch and sedan models personalities — the hatch is dynamic, the sedan elegant with a long, low bonnet, a slick glasshouse and an elegant, wide and low stance. Astina hatchbacks get black metallic 18” alloy wheel and silver metallic rims for the sedan.

Step inside and you're greeted by an all-new quieter, and minimalist, connected and driver centric cabin packing uncluttered controls, a redesigned centre console, shift knob, commander control and armrest. The black upholstered adjustable low centre of gravity, upright 10-way power adjustable driving position can also be had in a cool optional burgundy red leather in hatch models to complement some really sexy body colours.

Mazda’s improved and quicker latest 8.8-inch MZD Connect screen gets Android Auto and Apple Carplay, two USB audio inputs, Bluetooth phone and audio pairing for 8-speaker Active or Bose 12-speaker Individual sound, also controllable via the illuminated multifunction leather steering wheel with reconfigurable 7-inch TFT gauges and standard head-up display.

Add remote keyless entry, push-button ignition, auto door locking, headlights and wipers, driver and passenger one touch windows and an electronic parking brake to elevate the Mazda3 to premium status. Levelling LED headlamps come with the Dynamic model along with Rear Parking Sensors and Cruise Control.

Individual models add a frameless auto dimming rearview mirror, full auto air-conditioning and a driver seat with lumbar support and Astina includes rear air vents, a rearview camera, rear combination lamps, daytime running lights and adaptive LED headlamps. How’s that for fully specced!

Three adopts Mazda's improved Skyactiv-Vehicle Architecture for even more enhanced vehicle dynamics enhancements along with redesigned seats, a retuned body structure and all-new suspension, while 2-litre models get G-Vectoring Control Plus for an even smoother and more enjoyable driving experience. 

Powered by Mazda’s naturally aspirated Skyactiv-G engines in an all-new 88kW 153Nm1.5-litre and the familiar 121kW 213Nm 2-litre, the seventh generation Mazda3 comes in 1.5-litre 6-speed manual Active derivatives, and Dynamic or Individual packages in 1.5 manual or automatic, and the Astina 2-litre automatic, all in the choice of sedan or hatch models too. 

Mazda3 delivers a record maximum score 5-star NCAP safety rating thanks to the likes of i-Activsense with Adaptive LED Headlights, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Monitoring; Hill Launch Assist, Anti-Lock Braking with EBD and EBA, ISOFIX child restraint anchors, Dynamic Stability Control and Driver, Passenger, Knee, Side and Curtain Airbags.

We never had an awful amount of time behind the wheel of the new Mazda3, but our route through Jozi’s traffic and some terrible road surfaces was enough to drive home a significant premium step forward for both Mazda and the 3. The new 1.5-litre seemed good in spite of the challenges of altitude and we look forward to driving it in coastal conditions soon. The 2-litre impressed, although both engines still deliver that Skyactiv drone, which I actually quite enjoy.

But the big message here is quality, quality, quality and while we had a few niggling connectivity snags as you always do the first time you merge car and devices, 3 has it all and we look forward to spending enough time with this car soon to experience the best of that tech in action in more tranquil conditions.

In all, while it indeed carries a corresponding price premium, the quite premium Mazda3 made one mighty big first impression and while it may have been a little short, living with it for a bit was cool too. Whether it can carry that premium over the likes of Corolla or Golf remains to be seen, but 3 certainly delivers and then some. Three cheers, Mazda!

The new Mazda3 comes with a 3-year unlimited kilometre service plan, a 3-year factory warranty, a 3-year roadside assistance and a 5-year Corrosion Warranty.

Mazda3 Pricing
1.5 Active 6MT 5-Dr 359K
1.5 Dynamic 6MT 5-Dr R374K
1.5 Dynamic 6AT 5-Dr R387K
1.5 Individual 6MT 5-DrR 421K
1.5 Individual 6AT 5-Dr R434K
2.0 Astina 6AT 5-Dr R474K
1.5 Active 6MT 4-Dr R357K
1.5 Dynamic 6MT 4-Dr R322K
1.5 Dynamic 6AT 4-Dr R334K
1.5 Individual 6MT 4-Dr R418K
1.5 Individual 6AT 4-Dr R431K
2.0 Astina 6AT 4-Dr R470K