Mazda 3 Sedan review: Three's Company

Ben Chia


It’s safe to say that cars have improved massively in the last few years, and nowhere is this more evident than in the family car sector. The latest versions of Volkswagen’s Golf, Kia’s Forte and Toyota’s Corolla Altis were great leaps ahead of their respective predecessors, and now, Mazda has joined in the revolution with its latest 3 family sedan.

READ MORE: Volkswagen Golf 1.2 review

Right from the off, the third-generation Mazda 3 already makes a strong impression, with its striking and dynamic looks, a continuation of the ‘Kodo’ design language first seen on the Mazda 6 and CX-5, contrasting well against the conservative styling of its predecessor. Some of the details we find a bit odd, like the placement of the front number plate smack bang in the centre of the grille, but as a whole the 3 does look fairly cohesive, sporty even, with even a hint of Lexus at the rear. We’ve seen quite a few examples on the road already, and our personal opinion is that the car looks better in darker shades, like black or dark blue.

It is the interior though that impressed us the most about the 3, with excellent fit and finish and a quality feel that would not feel out of place on a Continental rival. Everything feels solidly put together, and the Mazda 3 effectively banishes the notion that Japanese family cars only come with cheap plastics. There is an iDrive-like knob to operate the infotainment system (which Mazda dubs the ‘commander control’), and most functions are easy to understand and use.

On our top-spec Deluxe test car, the 3 brings along a number of cool features that is rarely seen in this class, such as the head-up display (or ‘Active Driving Display’ in Mazda-speak), and bi-xenon auto levelling headlamps. There are also a couple of innovations brought over from the 3’s bigger sibling, the 6, namely the i-STOP engine stop-start system, and the i-ELOOP regenerative braking system. The latter function captures energy lost during braking, and uses that energy to power the car’s electrical systems on acceleration, but unlike regular battery based systems it uses a capacitor, which is almost the same thing, but operates faster. Neat.

But what really impressed us the most about the 3 is the way it drives, with the car handling with a sort of fluidity and composure that makes it an absolute joy to pilot. Thanks to Mazda’s clever Skyactiv series of technologies, the 3 weighs just 1,339kg, and the result is a car that is quick on its feet and utterly competent no matter what you throw at it. The light weight, and the aforementioned energy-saving technologies, also means that the 3 is pretty frugal too, with a quoted average fuel consumption figure of 5.7 litres per 100km.

Unfortunately, the experience is marred by the 3’s weak point; its engine. Local cars get a 1.5-litre unit that produce 118bhp, ostensibly so that it can fit in the new Category A COE segment. For all its frugality and efficiency, the engine needs to be worked hard, especially at low revs, to generate some meaningful momentum. And when you do, the unit ‘rewards’ you with quite a fair bit of noise. It’s not the most refined engine, that’s for sure, but once you get past the initial din and lethargy, the 3 is well capable of settling into a comfortable highway cruiser.

It’s a bit of a shame really, because the Mazda 3 does seem to have what it takes to threaten the established class. Many of its rivals score extremely well at just one key area, but the Mazda is excellent in most of them, with only one shortcoming. If performance and engine refinement does not rank high on your list of priorities though, then you’d do well to go for the Mazda if you’re shopping for a family sedan right now.



Engine 1,496cc, 16V, in-line 4
Power 118bhp at 6000rpm
Torque 150Nm at 4000rpm
Gearbox 6-speed automatic
Top Speed 185km/h
0-100kmh 11.7 seconds
Fuel efficiency 5.7L/100km
CO2 135g/km

Price $110,988 with COE
Availability Now

Also Consider: Kia Forte K3, Toyota Corolla Altis, Volkswagen Jetta 



Honda City review

New look at 2015 Mazda2


3 Sedan 4-door 5 seat mazda petrol sedan

About the Author

Ben Chia

CarBuyer's print editor went out to explore the Great Big World, including a stint working in China (despite his limited Mandarin). Now he's back, ready to foist upon you his takes on everything good and wonderful about the automotive world. Follow Ben on Instagram @carbuyer.ben

Related Models


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CarBuyer – Revolutionizing The Online Car Marketplace In Singapore

Buy Used And New Cars Online
Start your car buying journey with CarBuyer as we connect you seamlessly to the industry’s best CaseTrust-SVTA accredited car dealerships. As a one stop car online portal you can now buy your new ride, be it a pre-owned car or a brand new car from trusted dealers all over Singapore, all in one place. Our ever expanding listing of quality and covet-worthy cars, new and second hand, from both owners and trusted car dealers, will leave you spoilt for choice. Refine your search by vehicle type, registration year, price, mileage, engine type, transmission, annual depreciation value and more to find the car that best suits your needs, taste and lifestyle. You can even search for your car by dealer or directly by owner.

Sell Your Car In An Instant With Confidence
We all know how selling a car in Singapore can be a daunting task especially for a first time car seller; from trying to get a valuation for your car, finding a trusted dealer, to getting the best quote on your vehicle. CarBuyer understands the hassle and even the costs involved and have as such partnered with Huawei to develop a FIRST in Southeast Asia AI car valuation tool that is able to provide a car’s resale value at the snap of a finger. Backed with a consortium of trusted CaseTrust-SVTA accredited car dealers you can be assured that you are getting the best price for your vehicle and do not have to worry about any hidden costs.

The Ultimate Car Shopping Experience Online
CarBuyer platform is the first of its kind to be backed by Huawei’s Artificial Intelligence and cloud computing, enabling it to be able to offer users transparency and enhanced security, all with the one aim of enhancing customer experience. So come on over to buy and sell used cars online at the best prices at CarBuyer Singapore. Connect easily with dealers in real-time via our online video call feature, or schedule a test drive when you’re ready. Have some questions? Get them answered instantly with our chatbot moderated by our responsive team. Stay in the loop with our car-related tips, reviews and news. Learn the ins-and-outs of your car, as well as global and Singapore’s car updates at your own pace.