The all-new Mazda 3 ups the sexy factor, faithful to the original. Truth is, it’s even sexier in person. Our test unit’s bright 'look-at-me red' elicited just that reaction in a quick stop over at a busy gas station. The big smiley grill also matches nicely with the rest of the Mazda family. The projector headlights (a feature that made the first 3 stand out from the rest), are now bigger and curvier. Mazda saw fit to get rid of the previous 3’s side door mouldings, resulting in a nice clean slab of sheet metal. Those doors also now close with a much more solid thud. The back sports clear tail lights and well-deserves Justin’s “Sexy Back” song. I’d say that the Mazda has one of the curviest exteriors on the current market, second only to the Hyundai Elantra.
More of the Same Old?
Powerplant offerings are still the same 1.6L and 2.0L MZR engines found in the previous Mazda 3. In fact, the power ratings are exactly the same. Upon closer inspection, that’s not all that was carried over. Brakes, suspension and yes, even the chassis are carried over from the old car. This fact may miff some people but I say, why fix something that already works extremely well? Think back to the days of the Civic Esi and VTi, wherein almost all mechanical components can be interchanged between the two cars, and that wasn’t a bad thing.
The engine may be the same, but the transmission has grown an extra gear to keep up with the competition. With that extra gear, acceleration improves, with shifts coming faster. It should also fare better in terms of fuel economy when cruising in fifth instead of fourth gear.
Paddle shifts are now pretty much standard, and the Mazda 3 is no exception. It's noteworthy that Mazda went with the pull back (+) for up shifts and push forward (-) for downshifts execution, the way some race cars do.
A hallmark of the last 3 was the excellent handling, and the same can be said of the all-new Mazda 3. Drive it fast and it never feels like you’re about to lose control, even at speeds over 140 km/h. The suspension is adequate in soaking up the bumps, cracks, and occasional road kill littering our streets. Once again, same as the old 3. Not a bad thing.
Still Sexy Inside
One of the things I absolutely loved about my old Mazda 3 was the interior. A three-spoke steering wheel instantly distinguished it as a “sporty” car, as opposed to more daddyish rides with four-spokes. The all-black interior and red back-lighting on the display and buttons evoked a BMW-esque feel. And the all-new Mazda 3 takes all these elements and simply improves upon them.
To keep up with the times, a dash mounted multi-info display resides at the top telling you mileage, radio settings, fuel level, and economy. The steering wheel is a bit meatier for a better grip, and the integrated audio and info buttons now use an up down toggle switch as opposed to buttons. This is one feature that women with petite hands will undoubtedly enjoy.
The 2.0L variant gives you a plethora of extras, such as a sunroof, dual zone climate controls, the now-mandatory AUX input jack, and of course... leather, which despite everyone saying how hot it will get during the summer, is still lovely to sit on. Another neat feature is the auto-dimming rear view mirror for those pesky cars behind me with ultra-bright HIDs.
One feature though that moms and wives will love, and us men will really hate, because of all the nagging we’re gonna get, is the speed limit alarm. You can set any speed from 10 up to 290 km/h and the car will beep annoyingly at the selected speed. The only practical application I see for this is when traveling along NLEX or SLEX.
Paying a Premium
You may be drooling and have sleepless night lusting after a car, but if you don’t have the cash, a growing pool of saliva is all you’re going to get. This is where the all-new Mazda 3 is at a disadvantage. The Mazda 3 is currently the most expensive vehicle in the 2.0L compact car segment, with a price of P1.3 million, whereas the 1.6L version is just P1 shy of the P1 million mark. But does this make it a do-not-buy no-brainer? I don’t think so. A dress from Zara costs more than one from Penshoppe, and for some, that’s a premium worth paying. The higher price is a virtual guarantee that you won’t see hordes of them swarming the streets the way the last Mazda 3 did.
My previous generation Mazda 3 has proved pretty easy and inexpensive to service. Even the interior has been surprisingly rattle and knock-free after more than three years of hard use. And with the mechanical bits remaining virtually identical, it makes a strong case that this latest Mazda 3 will give you years of worry free use.