Let’s not beat about the bush here, the new Mazda3 is stunning. Despite more and more buyers filling their garages with offerings from the immensely competitive five-seat SUV market, the five-door hatch segment, thanks in no small part to the new Mazda3, is holding steady.
Since Mazda announced their intentions to bring the brand more upmarket a number of years back, we have seen a renaissance at the Hiroshima based marque, and what a renaissance it has been, but what about the new Mazda3 Sedan? How does it fare next to its stunning hatch counterpart? Well, as it happens, rather well.
The Mazda3 Sedan has always been in the hatches shadow in terms of sales. Now it is unlikely the new Mazda3 Sedan will buck that trend, especially since sedan, or saloon, sales in general, are a shadow of their former glory. That said, there is still plenty to like about the Sedan. Let’s start with how it looks.
The Mazda3 Sedan follows Mazda’s Kodo design philosophy of minimalist yet flowing lines to a tee. The Sedan has taken many styling cues from Mazda’s Vision Coupe Concept car from a couple of years ago. Some may argue the hatch is a funkier design to the Sedan, and they are probably right, but the Sedan has whiff of classical restraint about it and its still a great looking car.
Being around 4460mm in length, the new Sedan is roughly equal in size to the original Mazda6 from 2002. My test car was the range topping Limited for $48,990. This means you get all the fruit both inside and out. It also means a 2.5-litre Skyactiv four-cylinder engine mated to a silky smooth six speed auto box. Power is rated at 139 kW at 6,000 rpm and 252 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Plus, you get both i-stop and cylinder deactivation, the latter means when necessary two cylinders shut down when not needed. Fuel figures of 6.5L/100km means the Sedan manages to be a bit of sipper.
Stepping inside and you are greeted by delightful surroundings. Mazda’s minimalist Kodo design philosophy continues by the bucket load. Everything about the new Mazda3 Sedan is simplistic and almost completely devoid of distractions. Mazda have prided themselves on being all about the driver, and the Sedan’s cabin carries this vision brilliantly.
Another area where Mazda have been putting in the effort is interior quality. Every button and toggle switch feel so much better defined and put together than its rivals. This may sound a bit funny, but every time you push a button, the clicking noise is subdued and immensely satisfying. I ended up changing back and forth tracks on the Bluetooth audio, just because I could.
Standard kit is something the Sedan rather does well. Whether your factor in safety, or entertainment, the Mazda3 Sedan is very well equipped. This includes a Head Up Display, LED Head and Taillights, and a 7-inch infotainment system with Apple Car Play and Android Auto Connectivity. Mazda’s i-Activsense system with Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Radar Cruise Control, Smart Braking Support and Driver Attention Alert also makes up the standard package.
With the Sedan GTX, you get Dual Zone Climate Control and heated seats. The Limited featured here gets you a sunroof, Leather Trim, a thumping BOSE stereo system, which after considerable use is probably the closest you will have to hearing Pink Floyd, and more safety tech including Front Cross Traffic Alert warnings .
Rear seat passengers have ample head and legroom, though taller folk may be slightly hunched over due to the swooping roof line. Entering and exiting is a doddle, and Mazda’s weight saving techniques mean the doors themselves weigh next to nothing. Pop the boot and there is 444L of space over the hatches 295L.
When you get going, the Mazda3 Sedan makes no mistake about being the one of the most refined hatch-come-sedans around. The 2.5L Skyactiv four pot is a real peach, at a regular 50km/h suburban cruise, you sit on a snip over 1500rpm and hear next to nothing. Ride comfort is supple and comfortable, even when dealing with the odd pothole.
Leave city limits and onto your favourite B-road, the Sedan is just as good as the hatch. Don’t think for a moment the longer proportions mean you aren’t able to have as much fun, because you can. Sure, its no hot hatch but for an adequately powered small sedan, its sublime.
Steering is light but still manages to give plenty of feedback, while a linear power band means you are never without power. A firm foot is required when standing on the anchors but the six-speed gearbox is slick and up-shifts are instantaneous. In the bends you corner rather quickly without scrubbing off too much speed, the soft ride means you won’t be cornering flat, but still making sporting progress.
So, is the Mazda3 Sedan worth getting over the hatch? Well, it depends on what you intend to use it for. The hatch is more striking around the chops and will easily be the big seller, but the Sedan is just as good underneath and can carry more of whatever. It really boils down to what you want, but the current Mazda3 Sedan deserves consideration. If you think a Mazda6 is too big, and the 3 Hatch is too small, the 3 Sedan may just do it for you.
A great variant of great car