Mazda3 Saloon review
"The Mazda3 Fastback offers more space than the hatchback, but the same equipment and stylish looks"
- Good to drive
- Extra boot space
- Powerful engines
- Quite expensive
- Only one engine choice
- Automatic gearbox is less efficient
The Mazda3 Saloon (sometimes known as the Mazda3 Fastback) is essentially a longer version of the Mazda3 hatchback. Despite rivals including the Toyota Corolla saloon and the Honda Civic saloon no longer being available, the Mazda continues to be sold and now competes against the Hyundai i30 Fastback, plus upmarket alternatives such as the Mercedes A-Class Saloon, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe and Audi A3 saloon. Most manufacturers are moving away to concentrate on hatchbacks and SUVs, so the Mazda3 Saloon is a good option if you want something a little different to cars like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.
A streamlined rear end makes the Mazda3 Saloon a particularly good-looking car and one that clearly follows the example set by its bigger sibling, the Mazda6. Following the company’s ‘KODO’ design language, the Mazda3 has a cohesive, muscular design that makes it look more expensive than it actually is.
Mazda makes it easy to choose your 3 Saloon by only offering four trim levels, one fewer than the hatchback. There's the entry-level SE-L Lux, with 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, DAB radio, heated seats and smartphone mirroring, followed by Sport Lux with 18-inch wheels, upgraded headlights and extra parking assistance. GT Sport brings a heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, a Bose audio system and a power-adjustable driver’s seat, while top-spec GT Sport Tech brings extra safety kit like a 360-degree camera.
There's only one engine, a 2.0-litre petrol that’s the gem of the Mazda range. Called e-Skyactiv X, it uses clever technology to give the power delivery of a petrol engine with the economy of a diesel, and it now is a mild-hybrid, too. At a claimed 56.5mpg for the manual version, it’s more economical than you might expect, despite taking the car from 0-62mph in just 8.1 seconds. It's an enjoyable engine to use, too, revving freely and delivering its 183bhp with enthusiasm, while the way the car drives is second only to the BMW 1 Series in this price bracket.
The fit and finish of the Mazda3 really is excellent and much better than you might expect considering Mazda isn’t traditionally considered a ‘premium’ marque. Mazda as a brand finished very strongly, coming fourth out of the 29 manufacturers ranked in our 2021 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK.
Safety is impressive, with the Mazda3 earning the maximum five-star rating in independent crash-tests performed by Euro NCAP. The car will also brake automatically if it senses an obstruction in the road and you don't take action.
With stylish looks, good value, engaging handling and an excellent reputation for reliability, the Mazda3 deserves to be on your shortlist if you’re looking for a family car.