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Mazda3 2012 review

If having fun is still on the driving agenda, the Mazda3 should rate.
EXPERT RATING
8
Saving cash is more important than saving the planet for buyers of Australia's most popular car. The Mazda3 Neo and Maxx Sport both run a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that officially uses 7.9 litres/100km. In this class that's a long way off bragging rights, yet those models account for around 83 per cent of Mazda3

Saving cash is more important than saving the planet for buyers of Australia's most popular car.

The Mazda3 Neo and Maxx Sport both run a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that officially uses 7.9 litres/100km. In this class that's a long way off bragging rights, yet those models account for around 83 per cent of Mazda3 sales to date this year according to Mazda spokesman Steve Maciver. The engine may be showing its age but it has a huge redeeming feature _ the 108kW/182Nm powerplant is a lot of fun to drive, especially with the six-speed manual gearbox.

Value

The entry Neo's $20,330 includes cruise control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and 15-inch alloy wheels. On price it is beaten only by the Kia Cerato for two-litre engined cars in the small car class. Part with $24,490 and the Maxx Sport includes satnav with a 4.1-inch display, auto headlamps and wipers, Bluetooth phone connectivity, 16-inch alloy rims, fog lamps and dual zone airconditioning.

The auto is a $2000 option on both cars and, in the case of the Maxx Sport, it is then easy to justify spending another $1500 on the auto-equipped SportActiv model.  That comes with marginally more power at 113kW/194Nm but fuel use freefalls to 6.1 litres/100km.

Technology

The Mazda3 sits on a three-year-old platform, which makes its success all the more spectacular. Even the satnav's 4.1-inch infotainment display is starting to look small. It does have Bluetooth connectivity and an auxiliary input but In its latest guise there's Bluetooth connectivity and a small but decent resolution satnav display. The suspension is still at the top of the game, though, backed by a class-leading chassis. Goes to show the Mazda engineers still know how to bolt a car together.

Styling

The Mazda3 earned a midlife makeover late last year and it was very much a case of "it ain't broke, so don't fix it." Trainspotters will note the round fog lamps in place of the rectangular ones and the alloys are a different design. That's about it and with 3000-plus sales a month, the public likes it. It cuts a decent figure around town, especially the smiling assassin front end, and the interior feels upmarket. The hatch looks sharper from the rear, but its 340 litres of cargo space is 90 litres down on the sedan. Both of them do with a spacesaver spare tyre.

Safety

Six airbags, ABS brakes with stability and traction control and a tough-as-nails chassis earned the Mazda3 a five-star rating. The seats are supportive on long trips and the wide-angle passenger side mirror does help visibility when parking or backing the car.

Driving

Some cars just make you smile. The fact the Mazda3 grins back tempts you to take it for weekend drives on scenic roads. It is nearly as happy around town where the suspension that was taut on Sunday is only just behind the Volkswagen Golf on back street school runs. Rear seat legroom is more than big enough for young teens and three adults will cope with shorter runs.

Top five selling small cars in April

Mazda3 3005
Toyota Corolla 2573
Holden Cruze 2315
Hyundai i30 2147
Ford Focus 1105

Top five selling small cars this year

Mazda3 14,601
Toyota Corolla 12,067
Holden Cruze 10,520
Hyundai i30 8817
Ford Focus 5762

Verdict

If having fun is still on the driving agenda, the Mazda3 should rate. It defies the small family car tag while still being good at it and is priced to keep the Zoom Zoom crowd at the top of the heap.

Pricing guides

$12,841
Based on 393 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$6,985
Highest Price
$21,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Diesel 2.2L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $6,100 – 9,460 2012 Mazda 3 2012 Diesel Pricing and Specs
Maxx Sport 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $5,900 – 9,130 2012 Mazda 3 2012 Maxx Sport Pricing and Specs
MPS 2.3L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $9,100 – 13,640 2012 Mazda 3 2012 MPS Pricing and Specs
Neo 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $6,900 – 10,670 2012 Mazda 3 2012 Neo Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.