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Mazda 3 – 3 years later

Well, okay, not quite – it’s been 2.5 years. I got my Mazda 3 back in 2017, the latest model of the car.

It promised a lot and, next summer, it will going back to the dealership for the last time – either to be replaced or part-exchanged so that I can go elsewhere. How have the last (nearly) 3 years gone?

The Good

  • I was promised an excellent drivers car and that it is. As I do little driving now I want to be thrilled whilst out in it – admittedly it’s at its best on open, winding, country roads when I can take off the speed limiter and enjoy the twists and turns.
  • The gear change is sublime – you can’t change gear with a single finger or anything like that, but have a solid, positive action for pushing each gear in. It feels sportier than it is and is incredibly pleasurable.
  • My Ford Focus had a tiny eco-boost engine to achieve good MPG – the Mazda has a standard 2-litre engine and does the same. How? By being light and making small improvements here and there to increase efficiency (for example, the mild hybrid solution which other manufacturers are now getting into). So, for economy, it’s excellent and I much prefer this method than Ford’s.
  • The car is excellent value for money – it’s superbly “tricked out” for the money (although I miss the ambient lighting, e.g. in the footwells, that the Ford had). I particularly like the adaptive headlights.

The Not-So Good

  • The engine struggles at lower speeds – for a 2 litre engine, it shouldn’t struggle so much away from a standing start. It’s not as bad as an Ecoboost engine, admittedly, but it can feel sluggish at the lower revs.
  • This is a minor niggle but using LED through-out and then sticking old-fashioned, yellow bulb lights in the internal cabin lighting (ceiling, visor and boot lighting) is silly. It makes the results feel cheap.
  • Apart from an arm rest, there is a total lack of any feature for rear-seat passengers. No air vents, seat pockets or USB sockets.
  • The car appears to have some interference issues. Whenever I use the rear wiper, the DAB radio cuts out. I also tried using a wireless charger in the car too and that too caused the DAB to stop working whenever it was in use.

The Bad

  • Bristling with gadgets, this includes automatic headlights, windscreen washing, braking and even lane departure warnings. Which are great. Until anything covers the sensors at the top of the windscreen, at which point they all stop working and warning lights fill up your dashboard. As this includes adaptive headlights, this causes your lights to then default to full beam (not good). And, by “anything covers the sensors”, I mean frost, steam, or even bird poo.
  • The in-car entertainment system and SatNav suck. There’s been no updates in the software since I’ve owned it (you have to go to the dealer for it to be upgraded anyway) and it’s as buggy as hell. I have to pay a separate premium for map updates and I’ve not had any since February. DAB radio stations won’t show any information about what they’re playing and it reboots itself regularly, for no apparent reason. Like a lot of in-car SatNav solutions, finding a location is a test of patience, as it regularly doesn’t recognise postcodes or even streets.
  • Apart from the driving the other thing I was promised was a better quality of fix-and-fitting that I’d normally get in a Japanese car – “on a par with Audi” is what they said. And, at first glance, it does appear to be the case. Until, weeks after buying it, I got an odd rattle (which the dealer couldn’t reproduce). And since then I’ve had others including a really annoying one now from the centre console. You also start noticing where corners have been cut – e.g. the cheap hard plastic around that centre screen or the thin plastic used behind the steering wheel. The rear seats also rattle against the metal bulkhead underneath – and this isn’t an issue with just my car as I’ve checked others in the dealership showroom. Oh, and let’s not forget that I had to send the car in for an urgent recall, where the windscreen wipers can suddenly fail.

Will I Buy Again?

This is the $64,000 question.

A new model of Mazda 3 is now out and it looks amazing. On top of that a new Activ-X engine promises even greater MPG. I’ve been looking forward to both for some time.

But… but… the new model is already more expensive and, if you choose the new engine, it’s even more. On top of this, Mazda have already said that “due to Brexit” prices are going to go up even more. It’s suddenly not the bargain it was before and makes the decision less clear-cut.

Unless anything dramatic changes between now and next summer, I’m likely to end going elsewhere. I’ll let you know what happens.

Talk to me!

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