Mazda 3 (2013-2019) Review

The Mazda 3 is well-built, fun to drive and efficient and the ideal family car - if you’ve got short passengers

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Stylish design
  • Agile and responsive to drive
  • Powerful diesel engines
  • Expensive
  • Poor rear visibility
  • Boot is smaller than many other family cars
Mazda 3 prices from £7,438.
Finance from £188.74 / month.

Mazda 3 prices from £7,438   Finance from £188.74 per month

If you’re in the market for a family hatchback, it’s all too easy to follow the herd and choose a Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra or Volkswagen Golf, without even considering the alternatives.

Which would mean that you risk missing out on the Mazda 3: a family car that’s fun to drive and well built, with a stylish interior that’s well laid out and easy to use.

It is about to be replaced by an all-new Mazda 3, which goes on sale in Spring, but there's still a lot going for this previous-generation model on the used market.

Despite its age, the design is still more interesting than the sober VW Golf and familiar Ford Focus, partly thanks to high levels of standard equipment, which include alloy wheels, along with body-coloured mirrors and door handles on every model in the range.

And it feels as sporty to drive as it looks, thanks to sharp and precise steering: the Mazda 3 appears to dart towards a different direction as soon as you turn the wheel, making the driver feel more in control and better able to negotiate narrow bends accurately.

Some minor updates were made to the car at the end of 2016, which made small improvements to the Mazda's agility and comfort, but they aren't very noticeable.

The car is stable, with very little lean around fast corners. And the ride is comfortable, soaking up most potholes and bumps without jarring passengers. But if comfort is your top priority, then the VW Golf and Audi A3 are even better in this respect, if not quite as sharp in corners.

There’s no engine to avoid, but the diesels are most definitely the pick of the bunch. Both the 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre petrol offerings lack a performance punch but they do pick up points for being smooth and quiet.

Starting at £17,000, the Mazda 3 is an expensive car, but comes well-equipped with a 7in screen on the dashboard, digital radio and air conditioning as standard.

Cars built since the 2016 update have an improved interior. The differences are small, but the higher-quality switches, dashboard plastics and glossy black panels do make the newer 3 feel more expensive. The interior feels solid, even if it doesn’t have the same quality feel of an Audi A3. Neither is its dashboard software as slick as the Audi.

There is enough space in the back for at least two tall adults but the boot is smaller than the average family car. It should be enough for most families, unless they have a large buggy or need space for bulky luggage, in which case a Peugeot 308 or Skoda Octavia have over 100 litres more than the Mazda’s 350-litre boot.

The car received a full five stars for safety after being crash tested by the independent Euro NCAP organisation.


Key facts

Warranty 3 years / 60,000 miles
Boot size 364 litres
Width 1795mm
Length 4465mm
Height 1465mm
Tax From A (free) to E (£130 in first year and £130 thereafter)

Best Mazda 3 for...

Best for Economy – Mazda 3 Skyactiv-D Diesel 105PS SE Nav

This lower-powered but impressively responsive diesel drops below 100g/km CO2 so avoids road tax. Its official fuel economy figure is 74.3mpg.

Best for Families – Mazda 3 Skyactiv-G Petrol 120PS Sport Nav

Top of the range Sport Nav models come equipped with the sort of niceties you expect to see in premium German saloons: a Bose sound system, reversing camera and a head-up display.

Best for Performance – Mazda 3 Skyactiv-D Diesel 150PS SE-L Nav Diesel

The power of this diesel engine makes overtaking manoeuvres a breeze and it sprints from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds.

One to Avoid – Mazda 3 Skyactiv-G Petrol 165PS

The 0-62mph dash is only 0.1 seconds faster than the more frugal diesel engine, which doesn't justify the heady 135g/km CO2 figure.


  • 2013 The current Mazda 3 is launched.

Understanding Mazda 3 names

Trim SE

There are five trims in total (SE, SE Nav, SE-L, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav). Each higher level means more equipment and a larger price, while Nav denotes satellite navigation system fitted as standard.

Engine 1.5 Skyactiv-G Petrol 100PS

All engines are badged Skyactiv: Mazda’s name for a range of technology that boost efficiency. Diesels have the letter D and petrol cars have G. The size of the engine is given in litres (here it’s 1.5) and the power is given in PS - another name for horsepower.

Gearbox 6-Speed manual

6-speed shows that the car has six gears. The Mazda 3 is offered with both a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic gearbox, which comes at a slight price premium and can only be mated to select engines.

Mazda 3 Engines

1.5 Skyactiv-G Petrol 100PS, 2.0 Skyactiv-G Petrol 120PS, 2.0 Skyactiv-G Petrol 165PS, 1.5 Skyactiv-D Diesel 105PS, 2.2 Skyactiv-D Diesel 150PS

The most basic Mazda 3 models come with the lowest-powered 1.5 Skyactiv-G petrol engine, which offers the among lowest CO2 emissions figures in the range (119g/km) but performance is fairly lacklustre. The 0-62mph dash takes 10.6 seconds and the top speed is over 15mph slower the powerful diesels at 113mph.

The larger 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G 120 horsepower petrol engine mixes acceptable performance with low running costs, but also feels a bit underpowered.

The 165 horsepower does feel quick but its higher CO2 emissions mean that you’ll pay £130 a year in road tax. Fuel economy of 48.7mpg is well below other versions: in real-world driving you;d be lucky to see 40mpg.

Customers not too fussed about performance can save money at the pumps with the 105 horsepower 1.5-litre Skyactiv-D engine, with 75mpg - according to official tests. It’s not very powerful, though. A better choice, for £700 more, is the 2.2-litre diesel, which has strong performance and good fuel economy. 





0 - 62mph

Top speed

1.5 Skyactiv-G






2.0 Skyactiv-G






2.0 Skyactiv-G






1.5 Skyactiv-D






2.2 Skyactiv-D






Mazda 3 Trims

SE, SE Nav, SE-L, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav

Mazda doesn't do sat-nav as standard, so customers wishing to throw away the road atlas will have to pay a bit extra and look towards the models with a 'Nav' suffix to the nameplate.

All Mazda 3 models come with at least 16in alloy wheels and inside, even basic SE models have power-folding mirrors, manual air-conditioning, DAB radio and CD player, a 7in colour touch screen, wireless Bluetooth phone pairing, a leather wrapped steering wheel and internet app integration so users can pair a smartphone and access online radio, Facebook and Twitter on the move.

SE-L models add brighter bi-xenon headlights, climate control, automatic lights, rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats and cruise control.

Finally, Sport Nav models have 18in alloy wheels, a digital speedometer, a reversing camera, a premium Bose sound system, a neat head-up display that projects speed and navigation data right in front of the driver’s eyes, as well as keyless entry.

Mazda 3 Reliability and warranty

Mazda regularly ranks highly on the Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey and the Mazda 3 placed in the top half of the table in 2015.

The Japanese engines are notoriously robust and build quality ranked alongside the likes of BMW's X3 and the Mercedes C-Class.. The warranty is a pretty standard 3-years / 60,000 miles (or whichever comes first).

Used Mazda 3



List price

BuyaCar new

1 year old

2 years old

3 years old

Best for economy







Mazda 3 Skyactiv-D Diesel 105PS SE Nav







Best for luxury







Mazda 3 Skyactiv-G Petrol 120PS Sport Nav







Best for performance







Mazda 3 Skyactiv-D Diesel 150PS SE-L Nav Diesel







Other Editions

3 (2019)

The latest Mazda 3 family hatchback is up there with the best - in some style