The 3rd generation Mazda 3 was introduced in 2014 to great applause. It was an impressive attempt to regain the title of Australia’s most popular small car, which it held in 2013 with the previous generation model. 2014 - 2015 would result in the Toyota winning the overall sales race, but this wouldn’t stop the Mazda 3 from being one of the best all round small cars available.
The Mazda 3 was available in 6 trims - Neo, Maxx, Touring, SP25, SP25GT and SP25GT Astina. This covered 2 impressively fuel efficient engines – 114kw from the base model and 138kw for the SP range. The less powerful engine was classed as adequate, but an obvious performance boost was available to the SP models, making them more refined and competitive against the benchmark Volkswagen Golf range.
At the top of the range was the Mazda 3 SP25 Astina. It was fully loaded with radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, leather, sunroof, 7” touchscreen, LED driving lights, Bose sound system and much more. Surprisingly, there was initial controversy over its drive away sticker price of $40k, which was higher than an entry level Mercedes-Benz A-Class small car.
As a used car, this should work in its favour, with the top of the range SP25 GT Astina being a highly impressive all round small car, with advanced features at a reasonable price.
Taking a step down to the SP25 GT model would acquire most of the Astina’s performance, features and comfort, but without the top tier safety technology and a significant cost saving.
Mazda’s expectations were that the Neo base model would be its most popular. With the original price being half the cost of the top of the range at $20k, there were noticeable differences in interior appointment, such as a cheap plastic steering wheel and an underwhelming stereo system.
Throughout the range, the Mazda 3 was available in sedan or hatch, with the sedan featuring a 408L boot, versus 308L for the hatch. The exterior and interior of all models remains distinctly Mazda, with good build quality and handsome styling.
Overall, a used Mazda 3 should definitely be on your shopping list when considering a small hatch or sedan. Alternatively, if you're looking for something slightly larger, you can consider the Mazda 6.