Mazda3 2.0 Skyactiv-G01 | 03 | 2019Scotcars rating

    All-new Mazda3 delivers substance as well as style as it takes the battle to VW Golf

    MENTION MAZDA, AND the iconic MX-5 will inevitably pop into your mind. But brilliant as it is, what really excites the bean counters in the accounts department is a top-selling family hatchback. Something to rival the VW Golf, or the Ford Focus. Enter then, the all-new Mazda3. (Related: All-new mazda3 starts at £20,595)

    Since its launch in 2003, the Mazda3 has been a quiet success for the Japanese carmaker: more than six million sold globally, and in excess of 1m across Europe. That, despite the fact the previous three generations weren’t exactly fiercest rivals — aesthetically, or in terms of interior quality and functionality — to the Ford Focus, or Golf.

    So Mazda has reinvented the 3. One look at it tells you the newcomer is sportier, sexier and slinkier than anything else in the highly competitive C-segment; that’s family hatchback to you and me. (Related: Mazda CX-30 compact crossover)


    Inspired by the likes of the RX-Vision concept of 2015 and Vision Coupe from 2017, the new five-door Mazda3 hatchback (a four-door saloon arrives at the end of the year) has managed to translate concept car style from show stand to showroom. Its designers have, to stunning effect, managed to bring Mazda’s minimalist ‘Kodo’ design language to life. It’s a genuine, handsome headturner. (Related: All-new Mazda3 revealed in LA)

    And if you think it looks good outside, wait till you get inside. Here Mazda has lifted the bar, not only for itself, but also for other rivals. There’s a real sense of quality, and the combination of swoopy dashboard, low-slung seating position and sporty steering wheel make the cabin a wonderful place to be. Add in the fact everything is screwed together in a way which matches, or even beats, standards set by German rivals, and you realise how impressive the package is.


    Mazda though has gone its own way. While others have developed the touchscreen solution for their central display, Mazda has, instead, introduced a turn and push control wheel. Not only does it avoid sticky, unsightly fingerprints on a screen, but it’s less distracting for the driver. And it’s also complemented by a standard head-up display.

    It was a safety point highlighted at the launch by Kota Beppu, the Japanese project manager of the new 3, who stressed: “We want people to keep their eyes on the road as long as possible.” (Related: Mazda launches new flagship CX-5)

    As for the driving position? Well you’d be forgiven for thinking you were behind the wheel of an MX-5. It is that sporty. In typical Mazda fashion, everything is geared towards the driver. It may be a family hatch, but the Mazda3 displays a reassuring and confidence-inspiring sense of agility as it carves its way through sweeping corners.


    Without boring you with a raft of technical details, the engineers have put together a chassis and suspension combination which is sportily agile, yet manages to remain calm and flowing. Some might question its firmness around town, but I believe they will be in the huge minority. (Related: Crossing world's largest lake in a CX-5)

    Mazda has gone against current convention as regards naturally-aspirated petrol engines. While other manufacturers are focusing on small-capacity turbocharged powerplants, Mazda has fitted the all-new 3 with a 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G petrol unit with no turbo.


    Instead the newcomer introduces hybrid technology to Mazda for the first time. The 120bhp of the petrol unit is supplemented by a 24V mild hybrid system which stores electrical energy. In addition to ensuring a smoother start/stop function, it also has a subtle torque-filling effect.

    Combined with the short-shifting, stubby-levered and satisfying manual gearbox; precise steering; and eery quietness inside the cabin, whether you’re cruising the motorway or enjoying your favourite A-road the Mazda3 cleverly combines sportiness and refinement.


    The range also includes a 1.8-litre Skyactiv-D diesel, but we’ll have to wait till the end of the year for the much-anticipated and innovative Skyactiv-X petrol. Fitted with Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, Mazda says it combines the performance of petrol with the economy of diesel.

    For now, the Mazda3 hatchback — with a choice of five trim levels; SE-L, SE-L Lux, Sport Lux, GT Sport and GT Sport Tech — is already available to order, with first deliveries scheduled for May.


    The range starts at £20,595 for the entry-level Mazda3 120bhp SE-L petrol, and rises to £27,735 for the range-topping 115bhp GT Sport auto diesel. The most expensive petrol is the 120bhp GT Sport Tech auto at £26,795, with the entry-level diesel — the 115bhp SE-L — costing £22,395.

    But the 3 hatchback and saloon isn’t all that’s exciting the guys at Mazda. The 2019 Geneva Motor Show saw the unveiling of the CX-30 compact crossover. Built on the same platform as the new Mazda3, it’ll sit neatly between the high-selling CX5 and CX-3.


    Mazda staged the European launch of its new Mazda3 in and around Lisbon, highlighting the capital city had been the starting point for many of the world’s famous explorers, such as Vasco da Gama. It would appear, like the Portuguese traveller, Mazda has embarked on a new, exciting journey of its own.

    Related: Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary Edition

    Keep up-to-date with all the latest news by following us on

    Jim McGill

    Photographs: David Smith

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested From £20,595, to £27,735
    Engine / Power: 1998cc four-cylinder, petrol with 24V mild hybrid system, 6sp manual / 120bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 10.4secs / Max 122mph
    How big/heavy?: L4460mm W1795mm H1435 / 1274kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 45.6mpg (combined, WLTP) / 117g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / £165 first year, then £140
    Alternatives: VW Golf, Ford Focus

    User Comments

    Login or register to post comments.
    Send to friend
    Click here to add message:

Car Review Finder