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Skoda Octavia


Mazda3

Summary

Skoda Octavia

The Skoda Octavia 2018 range offers buyers unparalleled pragmatism, and a broad range of options to suit varied budgets.

It may not be as attractive as it was prior to its most recent facelift, but there is plenty to like if you can look beyond the challenging front-end design.

There's the choice of a five-door hatchback (which looks like a sedan), or a five-door station wagon - and with Skoda buyers being pragmatic, the wagon is the more popular body style. So that's what we've got here, and in the new Sport trim line. 

Consider yourself intrigued? Read on to find out more.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency4.9L/100km
Seating5 seats

Mazda3

Has anybody ever told you how lucky you are? Well, it’s true because if you’re looking for a small affordable car right now there are at least five different makes which are all so good you could pick any and probably be happy - but some are better than others.

Mazda knows how fierce the competition is and the new Mazda3 has arrived to win you over.

This new Mazda3 is the fourth generation version of a car which has been an Aussie favourite for years. Known for being a more premium feeling, fun-to-drive, small car with a high level of safety technology the Mazda3 was challenged in recent years by new-generation rivals such as the Hyundai i30, Toyota Corolla, Kia Cerato and Ford Focus.

The competition had different strengths – the Cerato offered a low price point, the Focus had Euro looks and a luxury feel, the i30 was refined and great to drive and the Corolla had Toyota’s reputation for bullet-proof reliability on its side.

What could Mazda do to try and fight off that onslaught? Find out below in our review of the new-generation Mazda3.

Read More: Mazda 3 reviews

Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.6L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Skoda Octavia8/10

The Skoda Octavia 2018 Sport wagon may run the same 110TSI drivetrain as the regular base model car, but its chassis and design tweaks make it a worthwhile model to consider if you want something that stands out a little bit from the rest of the Octavia pack.

If you want an RS wagon but can't afford one, you really ought to take a look at this car. 

Would you consider a wagon over a hatchback? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.


Mazda37.8/10

The new-generation Mazda3 may cost a little bit more than some of its rivals but when you consider what you’re getting in return such as standard features including safety tech, craftsmanship and how enjoyable it is to drive, it’s absolutely worth it.  

The sweet spot of the range? The G20 Evolve has a mountain of standard features at a good price. If you are able to stretch the budget I'd go for the G25 Evolve for a bit more power and torque, too. 

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

Is the Mazda3 the king of the small car kingdom? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Design

Skoda Octavia7/10

I didn't like the new look for the Octavia when Skoda revealed it early in 2017, and I wasn't alone. The once-handsome Czech mid-size model had been taken to with the ugly stick, with the dual-headlight look appearing to make the model look, well, nothing like a model.

In some colour combinations it's not too bad - a red RS245 with the black gloss grille, for example, looks tidy. But the Octavia Sport model you see here in white just looked a little bit… spidery, I'd say. Yeah, spidery.

The Sport model is accentuated by black pinstripes here and there, and look, I reckon the design of the wagon is a lot more becoming than the hatch. But if you value style as much as substance, consider the svelte Mazda6 is available for close to the same money…

The dimensions of the Skoda Octavia vary between the hatch and wagon, and the regular model vs the RS - yep, there's a bit of a size difference, but it's pretty miniscule. Here are the main numbers you need to know.

The hatch is 4670mm long (2686mm wheelbase), 1461mm tall and 1814mm wide. The regular wagon isn't as long at 4667mm (2686mm wheelbase), but sits a bit taller (1465mm) and is the same width (1814mm).

Thankfully the interior dimensions are accommodating, and the design in the cabin is very, very smart.


Mazda38/10

Yes, indeedy. The hatch has arrived first while the sedan will be with us in mid-2019 and people seem to be split right down the middle as to which is better looking.

I live in the camp which says the hatch is stunning. I’m really taken by the chunky C-pillar behind the rear door.

Yes, it does affect visibility out the back (I strapped a camera to my head in the video above to show you how much of a blind spot is created), but the aesthetic effect created is worth it, just.

The creases in the panels from the previous hatch have also been ironed out – look at the images of the new car in side profile.

The sedan has a fastback profile and it’s attractive – a rare thing among small affordable four-door saloons.

Both the hatch and sedan share the same new face, too. The previous generation car had a friendly, smiley face – take a look at the ‘nerdy’ emoji – that was it.

The new Mazda3 looks like it wants to eat you with its broad mesh blacked-out grille, sleeker than sleek headlights and the area underneath them has now been smoothed out for a clean look.

The cabin for all new-generation Mazda3s, too has moved to a new level of refinement with a minimalist design using high-quality feel materials, dark colour schemes, with subtle labelling to the controls for climate and media.

The overall effect is a cockpit that looks and feels high-end and sophisticated. Take a look at the interior photos.

The outstanding feature of the cabin is the wide display screen that nestles into an overlapping fold in the dashboard. A huge step away from the old screen which stood like a billboard and looked aftermarket, this new display is elegant and premium.

It’s not a touchscreen, however, which takes some getting used to – especially when it comes to accessing Apple CarPlay through a rotary dial located on the centre console.

The Mazda3 is a small car but the dimensions show it’s not tiny. At 4460mm end-to-end the hatch is 200mm shorter than the sedan; both are the same width at 1795mm and the hatch is 5.0mm shorter in height at 1435mm tall.

There are three optional paint colours and they cost $495: 'Machine Grey metallic', 'Polymetal Grey metallic' and the popular 'Soul Red Crystal metallic'.

Standard colours include 'Snowflake White Pearl', 'Sonic Silver', 'Machine Grey', 'Jet Black', 'Titanium Flash' and 'Deep Crystal Blue' which looks beautiful. The palette is a bit conservative, with not a green or purple in sight.

All cars come with alloy wheels, they’re 18-inch on all but the G20 Pure which has 16-inch rims.'

Picking Mazda3 grades apart from the outside is tricky – the wheels are the giveaway. If you look closely at the images, you’ll see the Mazda3 has a subtle body kit with side skirts, a rear diffuser and front spoiler.

Hatches come standard with a rooftop spoiler, and both body styles have twin chrome exhaust.

Has that translated to improved interior dimensions? In some ways, yes, but even with the longer wheelbase there’s not a whole heap of room in the back. See below for more.

You might be able to option different alloys to spruce up the exterior design, though you’ll have to wait and see if you can get a ‘Kuroi’ style body kit with a front spoiler, side skirts, rear diffuser and rear wing spoiler. Just think twice about a carbon fiber roof, eh?

On the high-grade model at launch it looked more like there’d been a luxury pack fitted than a sports pack.

Practicality

Skoda Octavia9/10

Skoda is a marvel when it comes to interior packaging, and the Octavia is perhaps the most impressive exponent of this. It really packs a lot in to relatively compact dimensions.

Boot space is perhaps one of the biggest advantages to the Octavia, with the hatch's luggage capacity spanning 568 litres, and the wagon offering up 588L (that measurement is to the window line). There's a spare wheel under the boot floor (you get a space-saver in RS models) and the back end features a dual-sided mat so you can put damp items in the back without damaging the carpet. 

Of course there's a couple of clever inclusions like flip-down shopping bag hooks, remote release levers for the split fold seats (they go down in a 60:40 fashion, and there's a clever ski-port for loading through longer items), and there's a dual-action cargo blind. You get a mesh net system, a removable torch and an umbrella, too. 

Plus the space on offer for occupants is very good. A family of five, plus luggage, will fit in here easily, with the back seat offering enough rear legroom, headroom and shoulder room for adults, too. With the driver's seat in my driving position (I'm 182cm) I had easily enough room to sit comfortably. 

Storage is well thought out, too, with bottle holders in all four doors, map pockets in the back, rear air-vents and a flip-down armrest with cupholders. The materials aren't as plush as you'll find in a Volkswagen Golf or a Mazda6, but they're not scratchy or harsh. 

Up front there are big door pockets, a pair of shallow cupholders, a good sized box in front of the gearshifter for your phone and wallet, and a reasonable glove box. 

The media system in our test vehicle was the upgraded 9.2-inch unit, which is crisp to look at an offers good resolution, plus the added usability that comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can't be ignored. But the lack of a volume knob is frustrating, and it can be hard to figure out if you should be pressing Home or Menu when navigating through the systems array of pages.


Mazda37/10

If you’re buying the Mazda3 to use as a family car, then you’ll want to read this. The boot space of the Mazda3 hatch has been reduced in this new generation car. The cargo capacity of the hatch is now 295 litres (VDA), while the previous car has 308 litres of room. the sedan has a cargo capacity of 444 litres.

If you have a pram, then see if it fits into the boot before you buy. As a parent myself, that would be a deal breaker and I’d look at stepping up to a Mazda CX-5 SUV which is a more practical family car.

Those backseats in the hatch are a bit squishy, too. At 191cm tall I can only just slide my legs in behind the driver’s seat when it’s in my position and headroom is getting tight for me back there, too.

I reckon kids will outgrow those seats quickly and if you plan on hanging onto the car for a while, you’re going to have complaints from lanky, cranky adolescents about space. Again, the answer is something bigger such as a CX-5 if you want to stay with Mazda.

Up front space isn’t a problem – I found I had plenty of shoulder room and headspace, and while those seats are impressively comfortable and supportive, more cuddly people (ahem, bigger folks) might find them tight.

Cabin storage space is excellent with a giant centre console bin under the armrest between the front seats and places to put keys, wallets, purses and phones under the dash around the shifter.

There are two cupholders in the front and two in the back and decent-sized bottle holders in all the doors.

Price and features

Skoda Octavia8/10

One of the main reasons you might be drawn to the Skoda Octavia is its attractive pricing. So, how much does the the mid-size model cost? 

Without running through the full price list of the Skoda Octavia models sold in Australia, we can tell you that Skoda prefers to deal in drive-away pricing, so that's what you see here.

Kicking off the range is the Octavia, which is priced at $25,490 for the manual hatchback, and $26,990 for the manual wagon. Stepping up to a dual-clutch (DSG) automatic adds $2500 in both instances.

The base model Octavia is pretty well equipped, with niceties such as an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, a cooled glovebox, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

The wagon model has silver roof rails, but sadly, there's a chrome strip at the nose end, and this model comes with halogen headlights but the tail-lights are LED units. Standard-spec Octavias come with 17-inch alloy wheels, and all Octavias get front fog lights.

The Sport model costs more, with the hatchback version listing at $32,990 drive-away, and the wagon priced at $34,490 drive-away. Both of these are auto-only, though. 

In comparison to the entry-grade model, the Sport adds auto LED headlights with adaptive lighting and LED daytime running lights, auto wipers, an extra pair of airbags (for rear side protection) and it rolls on 18-inch alloy wheels. 

Sport models have different front seats with integrated headrests (still manually adjustable), privacy glass, and the seatbelts feature a tightening feature if the car's computer predicts a crash (the windows wind up, and if there's a sunroof, it'll close). 

Plus the Sport has a black pack, including black door mirror caps, plus side and tailgate decals, there's a rear spoiler (black for the hatch model and body-colour for the wagon), and it rides on a lower sports suspension set-up. The Sport wagon has black roof rails.

If you're interested, the RS model line-up consists of a few different variants. The petrol manual hatch costs $41,990 drive-away, the petrol auto hatch is $44,490 drive-away, and the diesel auto hatch is $45,590 drive-away. Add $1500 for a wagon.

Then there are the top of the range RS245 models, with extra punch and more kit again. The sporty petrol-only RS245 model costs $46,490 for the manual hatch, and $48,990 for the auto hatch. Wagon versions add $1500.

Some notable elements: you need to option keyless entry and push-button start, no matter the model you choose, and a sunroof will cost you $1500 for the hatchback and $1700 for the wagon. You can get a power tailgate as an option on all trim grades of the wagon, too, at $500.

Now, option packs.

The 'Tech Pack' consists of the upgrade to the 9.2-inch screen with nav, LED headlights, semi-automated parking, adaptive chassis control (on RS and RS245 models only), keyless entry and push-button start, 10-speaker Canton audio, drive mode select (already on RS and RS245 models), manoeuvre braking assist (auto braking in reverse), and a driver profile set-up (already on RS and RS245 models).

The Tech Pack costs $4900 for the entry-grade car, $3900 for the Sport model, and $2300 for RS versions.

The other main pack is the 'Luxury Pack', which adds leather trim (base car; N/A Sport) and electric seat adjustment (base model and RS; N/A Sport), Alcantara/leather trim (RS; N/A Sport), heated front and rear seats, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, the added rear airbags (base model only), and auto folding door mirrors with dimming and puddle lights. This pack costs $4200 for the base grade, $1600 for the Sport model  $2800 for the RS, $1500 for RS245.

For those playing along at home, the model you see in these images is the Octavia 110TSI Sport wagon, fitted with the Tech Pack and an electric sunroof.

The other choice you'll need to make is on colours, with metallic paint adding $500. Check out Skoda's configurator to see if you like it in red, white, silver, blue, grey, green or black. There's no gold, brown or yellow, but there's a lightish beige hue called 'Cappuccino', which you can't get on higher-spec versions.


Mazda38/10

How much is a Mazda3? Well, the Mazda range has five grades to pick from: Pure, Evolve, Touring, GT and the Astina.

Then there’s a choice of two engines: the G20 and the more powerful G25, which you can get with a manual gearbox or automatic transmission. The thing is you can’t get all grades with both engines. I’ll show you.

Here are the list prices (RRP) for the manual versions with the G20 engine – just add $1000 for the automatic: the G20 Pure is the entry-point into the line-up and lists for $24,990; above it is the G20 Evolve for $26,990 and then the G20 Touring for $28,990.

Now, here’s what you’ll pay for the grades with the G25 engine, and again these are for the manual cars, but add a grand for the auto: the G25 Evolve is $29,490, above that is the G25 GT for $33,490 and then at the top of the range is the G25 Astina for $36,990.

The hatch has arrived first and the sedan will be in dealerships by mid-2019 – both cost the same.

As for drive-away prices – speak to your dealer at the end of the month and see what they can do.

The level of standard features across the range is seriously good. Coming standard on all cars is a head-up display, an 8.8-inch screen, reversing camera, sat nav (GPS), adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital (DAB+) radio, Bluetooth and steering wheel mounted controls.

All Mazda3s come loaded with advanced safety equipment such as AEBblind spot monitoring and lane keeping assistance which you can read about below. All come with rear parking sensors, too, while the Astina has front ones as well.

The G20 Pure and G20 Evolve have cloth seats, while the rest have leather with a power adjustable driver’s seat.

Only the G20 misses out on paddle shifters and dual-zone climate control, but has single-zone air-conditioning instead.

The only difference between the G20 Evolve and G25 Evolve (apart from the engine) is the G20 has cloth seats while the G25 comes with proximity unlocking and a power adjustable driver seat.

The G25 GT and G25 Astina come with a 12-speaker Bose stereo but the eight-speaker sound system which is standard on the rest of the grades is excellent.

All have push-button start and only the G20 Pure and G20 Evolve don’t have a proximity key.

The top of the range G25 Astina is the only Mazda3 which comes standard with a sunroof.

It’s great that all cars have LED headlights and LED tail-lights.

Is it good value? Yes, absolutely. Sure, getting into the line-up costs more than some of the rivals such the Kia Cerato or Hyundai i30, but the base grade Mazda3 is better equipped than the entry-level grades of those cars.

Engine & trans

Skoda Octavia8/10

There are three drivetrains to choose from in the 2018 Octavia range, and the specifications step up as you move up the range.

Base grade models and the Sport variant have the 110TSI 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol unit with 110kW of power (5000-6000rpm) and 250Nm (1500-3500rpm). It is available with the choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic transmission in the base grade, but the Sport model is auto only. If you want more horsepower from your motor, you'll need to go for the RS.

There is no diesel option for the lower grades, and every model in the Octavia range sold in Australia is front-wheel drive (FWD / 2WD). In some markets there are all wheel drive (AWD) models sold, but there isn't a proper 4x4 version with a low range transfer case in any market, though. There is no LPG model sold here, either. 

Now, if you think you might consider towing with your Octavia, you'll need to know its capabilities - and towing capacity varies across the range.

The 110TSI hatch has a 620kg un-braked trailer weight capacity or 1500kg for a braked trailer (manual or auto); the 110TSI manual wagon can deal with 630kg/1500kg, while the DSG wagon is good for 640kg/1500kg. 


Mazda37/10

We touched on this earlier, but let’s go into a little more detail. There are two engines available: the G20 and G25. Both are four-cylinder petrols with the G20 being a 2.0-litre making 114kW/200Nm, while the G25 is a 2.5-litre making more grunt with 139kW/252Nm. The G25 has cylinder deactivation which lets the engine run on two cylinders when not under load to save fuel.

Having driven the G20 Evolve and G25 Astina with automatic transmissions back-to-back I can tell you the difference feels huge when it comes to steep hills and fun driving on the winding bush backroads where I tested the cars.

That said, the G25 isn’t particularly sporty either, so if it comes down to budget and you’re not fussed by having a little less oomph, the G20 is perfectly fine.

A timing chain, rather than a timing belt should make many out there happy.

All cars can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission.

Some countries will be able to get all-wheel drive (AWD) Mazda3s, but Australian ones are front-wheel drive.

A diesel isn’t offered on the Mazda3, and the hybrid version may not make it to Australia.

As for the 'Skyactiv-X' Mazda3, that super fuel-efficient petrol car will come to Australia soon.

Fuel consumption

Skoda Octavia8/10

Fuel economy is good for the 110TSI model we're testing, with claimed consumption rated at 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres for the DSG hatch and wagon, while the 110TSI manual hatch uses 5.4L/100km and the 110TSI manual wagon claims 5.5L/100km. 

Fuel tank capacity for all models is 50 litres, and your mileage will vary depending on how hard you drive. Based on my time in the 1.4-litre Sport wagon, I was going to do about 650km on a tank, with at the bowser fuel consumption measured at 7.3L/100km. The dashboard display was reading 7.2L/100km.

The Octavia requires 95RON premium unleaded fuel at a minimum.


Mazda37/10

Mazda says the 2.0-litre engine in the hatch with the six-speed manual should use 6.4L/100km (6.3L/100km for sedan) while the auto will use 6.2L/100km (6.1L/100km in the sedan) after a combination of urban and open roads.

My own testing in the G20 Evolve with that 2.0-litre engine saw me use 6.7L/100km after 85.2km according to the trip metre. That was over a combination of city streets, motorways and country roads.

As for the 2.5-litre engine, Mazda says in the hatch with the six-speed manual it should use 6.3L/100km (6.2L/100km for sedan) while the auto will use 6.6L/100km (6.5L/100km in the sedan) over a combination of urban and open roads.

When I swapped into the G25 Astina after it had completed the same journey as the G20 Evolve the trip computer was saying 7.6L/100km.

As for towing the Mazda3 has a braked towing capacity of 1200kg. Not bad and enough for trailer or small caravan.

Driving

Skoda Octavia8/10

What makes the Octavia Sport worthy of that much-lauded, oft-overused badge? 

Well, it feels pretty sporty to drive, with the MacPherson strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension both getting the harder-edge tune and sitting a few mm lower to the ground as a result (be aware of the car's ground clearance - it is lower, but it's not suctioned to the ground like a sports car). 

The regular Octavia model was already at the pointy end of the segment for dynamics and comfort, but this Sport version is more dialled into the surface below, with the combination of the stiffer chassis and the bigger wheels with grippy Bridgestone Potenza 225/40/18 rubber rewarding the driver, albeit at a slight penalty in terms of outright ride comfort. You can link bends together with ease, and the turning circle is pretty tight, meaning parking moves are easy enough.

The way the Octavia Sport finds its way through corners, almost telepathically, will have you thinking you've got more grunt than the 110TSI's outputs suggest - that comes down to the refinement at speed, where the torque of the small engine keeps momentum as the dual-clutch auto shifts clinically between gears. There are no paddle-shifters, but there's a manual mode to flick up or down on the shifter, and there are a few drive modes to choose from, each adjusting the throttle response and gearing. Sport was great, but Normal was where I spent most of my time.

In Normal mode there's a bit of stuttering at lower speeds when you're on and off the throttle, but it isn't as much of a deal-breaker as it might have been with earlier iterations of dual-clutch autos. Just make sure that if you're considering the Octavia (or any new car, for that matter!), that you test drive the car extensively, and try to put it through your regular day-to-day routine. 

As with many examples of cars built on the Volkswagen MQB modular architecture, there is some road noise - especially on coarse-chip surfaces. I didn't find it hard to live with - I just turned up the volume on the sound system. 

Over a week of commuting, driving in and around Sydney and more than a few hours on the city's motorways, I came away convinced that if I couldn't stretch to the RS, I'd be pretty happy in the Sport model.

Need more? Want a quicker 0-100 acceleration time, more speed, and better performance figures, and independent rear suspension? You really ought to read my review of the RS245 wagon.


Mazda38/10

Mazda’s schtick is fun driving and the brand is super keen to tell everybody it meets about how much work it puts into making its cars enjoyable to pilot.

That’s good news for you if you see driving as more than just getting from A to B, but even if you don’t, you’ll benefit from changes made in the new Mazda3.

I found the previous Mazda3 to be up there with the best affordable small cars to drive, but when the new generation i30 appeared the Hyundai’s refinement and suspension tune delivered a serious threat with great ride and handling.

Also look at the Kia Cerato, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus if you want to do a model comparison.

Now Mazda has done it again – this new generation car is the most comfortable and engaging Mazda3 made.

You may have heard a bit of hubbub about the rear suspension changing from a multi-link to a torsion bar in this fourth generation Mazda3.

Even we at CarsGuide called it “an apparent technological backward step” but having now driven the new car on Australian roads I can tell you its ride and performance haven’t been damaged. If anything this car feels more composed and dynamic than ever.

I was able to drive two versions of the Mazda3 at the Australian launch – the G20 Evolve and the G25 Astina.

The drive route from Sydney airport to the NSW Central Coast and back couldn’t have been better in that it represented normal driving, not just a blast on great roads through the country which doesn’t give you much real-world information.

Starting in the G20 Evolve and snaking through the city towards the M2 Motorway was a good way to get used to the car’s layout of controls. I did find it tricky at first to read the stylishly subtle labelling on buttons.

Just locating the fan speed switch was difficult, for example, because it sits flush under the small climate screen. But that minimalist styling is also something I love about that cabin and an owner will instinctively know where everything is after a while.

And ergonomically the cabin is great. Yes, the display isn’t a touchscreen, but it’s too far away to reach anyway, even if you had arms as crazy long as mine.

I drive on those same roads every day. I know how the hundreds of cars I’ve tested react to the bumps and bruises of Sydney’s arteries which stretch north to the Central Coast and the Mazda3 impressed me with how comfortable and composed it stayed.

Steering is direct, meaning you turn the wheel and the car turns almost instantly with it. That sounds silly but some cars have slow steering that lags a little.

That steering is great for sporty driving, but around town it can feel a little ‘on edge’, but again owners will grow to love its quickness, I think.  

What’s not particularly quick is that Evolve with the G20 engine, with well-sorted suspension and direct steering the weak link is a lack of oomph from the 2.0-litre.

Still, if it came down to money and the 2.5-litre engine was out of the price range (because you can get the Evolve with a G25), then the G20 shouldn’t be seen as a deal breaker – it just didn’t feel like it had long legs.

Whereas, the G25 Astina did when I swapped into that car – the difference in grunt while not huge on paper felt plainly noticeable as we took to bush backroads through to the coast. That 2.5-litre engine is a better match for the good dynamics of the new Mazda3.

A criticism of the previous generation car was the amount of road noise that found its way through into the cabin and NVH (Noise Vibration and Harshness) was a major focus for Mazda on this new car.

Some of the lengths Mazda went to to reduce noise included padding in the steel structure of the car itself to act like a shock absorber during flexing; creating suspension components which change the direction of the forces on the car over speed bumps to keep the driver’s head as motionless as possible; tyres which ‘squish’ more so they don’t transfer the jolt over a speed bump; and carpet and floor mats designed to trap sound.

Even the seats have been designed to not just provide a good driving position but be good for your back by keeping your pelvis upright and your spine in the natural S-shape it takes when you walk.

The driver’s seat was one of the most comfortable and supportive I’ve ever sat in and that’s including prestige cars. I’m also talking about the cloth seats in the G20 Evolve which seemed to expand a bit more to fit me than the leather ones in the G25 Astina.

The overall effect of the work Mazda has put in means the Mazda3 provides one of the best driving experiences you can have for a car under $40k.

Safety

Skoda Octavia8/10

All Skoda Octavia models currently on sale are still covered by the car's 2016 five-star ANCAP crash test safety rating. 

Safety features across all models include a reversing camera and rear parking sensors (with a visual park assist display), auto emergency braking (AEB), multi-collision brake, tyre pressure monitoring, fatigue detection and adaptive cruise control.

Of course, every model in the range comes with outboard ISOFIX child-seat anchor points in the back seats, and there are three top-tether attachment points, too.

Airbags for the Octavia are seven for the regular model (dual front, front side, driver's knee and full-length curtain) and nine for RS models (added rear-side protection). The extra airbags can be added to entry-grade models as part of the Luxury Pack, which will also bring lane keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring. 


Mazda39/10

This fourth-generation Mazda3 is yet to be tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP, but we’re expecting it to perform well.

All cars come equipped with a high level of standard safety technology including AEB which works forwards and backwards, rear cross traffic alert, lane keeping assistance and blind spot monitoring. The G25 Astina also comes with front cross-traffic alert.

Mazda was one of the first brands to make AEB and other advanced safety tech standard across its line-ups and it continues to be a leader, where many other carmakers, including prestige ones, make safety tech a pricey optional extra.

For child seats, you’ll find two ISOFIX points and three top tether mounts across the rear row.

There’s a space saver spare tyre under the boot floor.

Ownership

Skoda Octavia/10

The Skoda vehicle range is covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan, which is better than its parent company VW offers in Australia, and matches the likes of Mazda, which only recently upped its warranty plan. There's no extended warranty option, though.

The Czech brand allows customers to pre-pay their service costs by choosing one of its 'Service Packs, the cost of which can be bundled into finance or outright purchase price. The plans are three years/45,000km ($1150 no matter the model) or five years/75,000km ($2250 for non-RS models; $2700 for RS models).

The other option for customers is to pay for their maintenance as they go using capped price servicing for up to six years/90,000km. The average service cost for a standard Octavia is $416.50 and $453 for RS models, but that's before additional consumables like brake fluid. Also worth noting that the alarm system needs to be replaced every six years, at a cost of $411 - that might need to be considered in your resale value estimates. 

If you're concerned about common faults, problems or issues you may encounter check out our Skoda Octavia problems page. The value of a page like this is that it goes beyond standard features to give you a gauge of the reliability rating for the vehicle. 


Mazda38/10

The Mazda3 is covered by Mazda’s five-year unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Servicing is recommended at 10,000km/12-month intervals. While Mazda doesn’t have capped price servicing the price calculator on its website says Mazda3s with the 2.0-litre engine will costs $991 over three years and $1778 over five years; while the 2.5-litre car will cost $1006 for the three years and $1802 for five.