Mazda 3 G25 Evolve: hands-on review
Mazda underlines upmarket course change
The latest generation Mazda3 has been given a facelift, based on Japanese design principles where "beauty is achieved by subtraction". What has been shaved off the body has been slapped onto the price though, with models seeing price bumps between $3,500 and $4,500 range-wide.
We got behind the wheel of the new Mazda3 G25 Evolve hatch, which starts at $30,490 but with a set of added floor mats ($194.58), the total came to $30,684.
So does Mazda's new hatch justify its bumper price tag?
Mazda 3 Options
|Soul red crystal metallic paint||$495|
|Machine grey metallic paint||$495|
|Polymetal grey metallic paint||$495|
Styling is subjective, but in my opinion, the new Mazda3 Evolve hatch is a tremendously attractive car. Sharp styling lines give way to smooth, flowing forms and the low slung, razor-edged frontend gives the Mazda3 a sporting flair. A sweeping roofline and an arching C-Pillar all add to a distinguished looking, premium hatch.
To compliment the new look, Mazda also has some fantastic colours to choose from. Our test vehicle was "Snowflake white pearl mica", which contrasted with the dark grey alloys perfectly. And, it never looked dirty. No matter where we drove it, it seemed to have the air of just coming straight out of a car wash.
We've also seen the Mazda3 in its signature "Soul red crystal" finish, and while it also looks brilliant, I much prefer the white paint.
On the road
Hopping in the Mazda3, you can tell that this is a well-built vehicle. Everything feels solid from the gear selector to the blinker stalks. They all had weight about them and very little give – things appeared to be made to excellent tolerances.
Build quality is an essential when appealing to a more premium market and price point.
The G25 Evolve hatch comes with cloth trim. Coupled with the pleather touch points and soft-touch materials dotted around the cabin, it develops on an upmarket quality. The seats are shaped for comfort, and the contouring certainly delivers in this area. It's a bonus to have the ability to electronically adjust them also. The ride has been improved, but it still remains a smidgeon on the firmer side.
The 2.5-litre SKYACTIV-G engine remains from the old model, producing 139kW and 252Nm of torque. The engine does feel a bit underbaked for a vehicle as good looking as this one is.
The company claims that the engine will drink around 6.6L per 100kms; however, we saw a touch under 10 litres per 100kms. It is worth noting that the test vehicle we picked up had just over 800kms on the clock when we picked it up, so perhaps this is adding to the car's thirst with all the new gaskets and bearings needing to bed in a little.
Steering is precise, helped by a combination of a new electric assist steering system and Mazda's G-Vectoring technology – a system that apportions torque between wheels in order to better balance vehicle weight when cornering.
A sound-absorbing headliner and floor mats have been added, among other tweaks, in order to keep cabin noise to a minimum. The additions appear to have worked well.
The increased size of the C-Pillar, while it does tie in to the new design quite well, hampers vision a little. Blind spot monitoring works quite well though, helping to smooth over this common flaw with modern vehicle design.
Driver and passengers are protected by six airbags and a suite of driver assist technologies that include the following:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Traffic sign recognition
- Lane keep assist
- Rear parking sensors and camera
- Heads-up display that integrates with both traffic sign recognition and satellite navigation.
- LED headlights with auto high-beam
- Automatic windscreen wipers
- Much more
Mazda Connect, accessed via an 8.8-inch screen, is a quality system. Forgoing the touchscreen for a rotary dial, the system is easy to access, fast and intuitive. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have been added too if you need smartphone mirroring.
Dual-zone climate control ensures time spent in the car is done at the right temperature. Front and rear passengers have access to two cup holders.
In the back, there isn't all that much to talk about. Legroom is a scarce commodity. With the driver seat in my driving position (just over 6 foot), I was quite cramped with my legs more than firmly jutting into the back of the seat.
There are no air conditioning vents in the rear, but you do get two cup holders located in the fold down armrest.
Is the Mazda3 Evolve hatch practical?
Boot space has been reduced in the latest generation, with just 295 litres available. This is less than a fair few competitors in the segment. The rear seats do fold down though if you need additional space.
If you are the type of person who tends to do long trips regularly, it is worth noting that the Mazda3 Evolve hatch comes with a space saver tyre. Better than a tyre repair kit, but not the rare full-size spare that we found in the Renault Koleos Zen that we tested last week.
There are also ISOFIX anchor points on the outer two rear seats so you can secure child seats in the back.
Mazda's latest generation hatch is a well-built, elegantly styled car. Everything feels sturdy and of quality material. It boasts plenty of safety technology, and it wears an upscale-feeling cabin. If you look at the standard features, the increased prices seem justified.
The more I drove it though, the more I wished I was back in the Ford Focus ST-Line. But that's just me.