Mazda 3 Mild Hybrid Review (Updated 2020)

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It seems that Mazda is banking on a unique approach to make a more significant splash in the Japanese car market.
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Introduction

The Mazda 3 is already its 7th generation, yet it somehow still manages to be overlooked when compared to its more popular rivals from Toyota and Honda. This new model seems to have the potential to change all that. Mazda have stuck rigidly to their driver-centric approach, and in doing so, have made a whole host of modern changes to their car. These include an all new platform, cabin concept, more safety features and more human-machine interfaces, with the ultimate goal of “making humans do better inside it”. It seems that Mazda is banking on this unique approach to make a more significant splash in the Japanese car market.

Mazda 3 Mild Hybrid Exterior

The aspect which differentiates the Mazda 3 the most from its competitors is definitely the exterior. Mazda’s KODO design concept directly translates to “Soul of Motion”, in which designers view the car as an actual living thing rather than a hunk of metal. The goal? To allow the driver to form an emotional bond with the car. In the case of the Mazda 3, the designers have most definitely succeeded.

At first glance, the Mazda 3 is a lot more elegant than its rival Japanese sedans from Toyota and Honda. The designers have drawn inspiration from Japanese minimalism and the idea of beauty through subtraction. As such, a lot of design features often found on other sedans, such as lines, creases and sharp edges, have been completely removed.

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The sportier hatchback

The result is an extremely “liquid” and smooth body that exudes elegance. The front end has also been tidied up, but the massive grille remains, giving the car presence without compromising elegance.

Interestingly, the Mazda 3 is offered both as a sedan as well as a hatchback. While both still adopt the same design concept, the overall vibe they give is different. Visually, the sedan, primarily because of its length, looks more refined. On the other hand, the hatchback gives off a sportier vibe, with many reviewers even noting that it looks like an Alfa Romeo. Design-wise, there is no higher praise than that.

One last change from the previous model is that the Mazda 3 now has a slightly longer wheelbase. This means that the Mazda 3 has the longest wheelbase of all its rivals, allowing for a better ride.

Mazda 3 Mild Hybrid Interior

The minimalist design concept adopted by the designers has been faithfully applied to the interior as well, with the intention of delivering the best driving experience possible. To achieve this, there has been a similar removal of intrusive and unnecessary clutter, such as panel gaps and extra vents. This removes potential distractions for the driver, allowing him or her to focus on and enjoy the driving experience.

However, a minimalist approach does not mean that the interior becomes as bare as a prison cell. For one, the materials used in the cabin are of much higher quality than the old model, including leather and soft-touch plastics. This gives the cabin a much classier feel and makes it a very pleasant place to be. There is also a new 8.8-inch infotainment system controlled by a rotary controller, as well as a heads-up display for the driver in all models.

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A minimalist interior

Further contributing to this classy feel is the refinement of the cabin. The new Mazda is quieter and more comfortable than its predecessor, thanks to the use of damping nodes and structural adhesives, which reduce noise, vibrations and harshness. Furthermore, Mazda has installed a system called the F-Vectoring Control, which aims to reduce unnatural movements such as swaying or jerking. This also allows the car to be easier to operate.

However, one downside is that despite the extended wheelbase, the rear seats still feel a bit cramped in terms of legroom, especially for taller individuals. Also, the roofline for the front of the car is lower, which might cause a few issues for taller people when getting in and out of the car.

Mazda 3 Mild Hybrid Performance

On the performance front, the engine has not changed in the new Mazda 3. It is still a 1.5L engine that produces 120bhp and 153Nm or torque at 6000rpm, which is transferred to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic gearbox. This allows for a top speed of 200km/h and a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 11.9s in the sedan.

The hatchback is slightly slower, with a top speed of 192km/h and a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 12.1s. The engine in the Mazda is also extremely frugal, with the official fuel consumption figure being quoted as 5.5L/100km.

In addition, as the name suggests, the Mazda 3 is a mild hybrid. A small lithium-ion battery drives a motor generator that produces extra torque and power. This is primarily used to help the car accelerate slightly more quickly from a standstill. However, note that the Mazda is not a pure hybrid car (like a Toyota Prius), and it is unable to run on battery power alone.

As for handling, the suspension is a basic Macpherson Strut front and Torsion Beam rear setup. As a result, the Mazda is not the sharpest handling car on the market. Nevertheless, with Mazda’s focus on the driving experience, the car is no slouch either. It handles decently at road speeds, thanks also to the G-Vectoring Control system and a widened front and rear track. At the same time, the Mazda remains a comfortable ride, with the suspension being able to absorb most bumps. Coupled with the cabin refinement, the Mazda 3’s ride quality and comfort seems unparalleled.

Mazda 3 Mild Hybrid Safety

Mazda have also always given a large priority to safety, and the Mazda 3 is no exception, with its 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Firstly, all models come with 7 airbags, including one for the driver’s knee, providing all-round protection for the occupants.

Also, Mazda’s new SkyActiv vehicle platform has been upgraded. It is now stronger to allow for improved crash protection, without any extra weight to ruin the fuel consumption and handling of the car.

The rest of the safety equipment varies with the version of Mazda 3 you purchase. There are 3 different versions: Classic, Elegance and Astina. The Classic model is the base model that only comes equipped with a rear camera.

The mid-range Elegance model, on the other hand, comes with a whole host of other safety features as standard, including a Smart Brake support system with boosts braking power in emergency situations that even brakes the car automatically at times.

Other features include blind spot monitoring, radar-guided cruise control with speed and distance alert, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive front lighting, a 360-degree view monitor, lane keep assist and lane departure warning.

Finally, the high-end Astina model further provides other features like driver monitoring, front cross traffic alert and steering assists to the cruise control system.

Mazda 3 Mild Hybrid Features

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Classier controls

Once again, the features vary based on the version of the car purchased. The basic Classic model comes with 16-inch wheels, normal LED headlamps, power folding mirrors, Urethane-covered steering wheel, PVC covered shift knob, manual aircon, manual dimming mirrors, leather upholstery, manual seats, an 8.8-inch screen with satellite navigation and a heads-up display.

The mid-range Elegance model has larger 18-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights with daytime running lights, folding side mirrors with auto dimming, auto dimming rear view mirror, a more luxurious leather steering wheel and gear knob, a DVD player, automatic air conditioning and powered front seats with leather upholstery.

Finally, the high-end Astina model comes with everything the Elegance provides but also with a keyless entry and start system. The biggest perk of this version, however, is the Bose speaker system. The 12 speakers provide amazing sound quality and an unrivalled audio experience that is hard to find in cars.

Summary

For years, the Mazda 3 has been in the shadow of its more popular rivals, the Toyota Altis and Honda Civic. With the launch of the brand-new seventh generation Mazda 3 however, that could be about to change. While it may not be the most practical as compared to its rivals, its looks, quality and driver-centric approach appeal more to customers who want more than just boring practicality in their choice of sedan.

Providing a perfect blend of comfort, refinement and luxury, the Mazda 3 arguably stands heads and shoulders above its rivals in the Japanese car market at the moment. With prices starting at $89,888 for the Classic sedan, up to $110,888 for the most expensive Astina hatchback, the Mazda 3 is now the car to beat if you want a reasonably priced Japanese car.

Verdict

What we like
- Overall outlook and design of car
- Well-designed interior that is posh-looking
What we do not like
- Acceleration feels slightly sluggish
- The space in the rear seats feel smaller compared to competitors
Editor’s recommendation
The Mazda 3 Mild Hybrid is a nice car to own if you are not particular about acceleration. The mild hybrid gives it an added boost of petrol efficiency that is a nice to have. Go for this car if you place more emphasis on interior finishings.

Mazda 3 Mild Hybrid Specifications

Measurements

Sedan

Hatchback

Dimensions

4660mm x 1795mm x 1440mm 

(L x W x H)

4460mm x 1795mm x 1435mm 

(L x W x H)

Wheelbase

2725mm

Kerb Weight

1397kg

1404kg

Specifications & Performance

Sedan

Hatchback

Engine

SkyActiv-G 1.5L

Transmission

SkyActiv-Drive 6-speed automatic

Drive Type

Front-wheel drive

Engine Power

120bhp

Engine Torque

153Nm

Top Speed

200km/h

192km/h

0-100km/h

11.9s

12.1s

Battery Type

Lithium-ion

Motor Power

5.1kW

Engine Torque

48.5Nm

Fuel Consumption

5.5L/100km

Suspension (Front/Rear)

McPherson Strut/Torsion Beam

Brakes (Front/Rear)

Ventilated Disc/Solid Disc

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