• Great handling and strong engine
  • Reliable and cheap to own
  • Decent fuel economy
  • Higher than average NVH
  • Unusually high first gear ratio
  • Tight rear seats and boot compared to rivals
5 Star

About the Mazda 3

Michael Rose purchased this Mazda 3 new for $30,000 (including all on-road costs). Michael Rose would buy this car again because: “As a younger person looking for something a bit quick, fun to drive and cheap to run and maintain? Sure I would! There are also plenty of options for tuning and mods that would make it even more fun, especially given it’s out of warranty.

As a 40+ year-old looking to share a single car with my partner, for both around town and regular country driving? Hmmm… not so much. High levels of NVH on coarse chip roads make longer drives quite tiring and the partner doesn’t drive manual (since when did not getting your manual license become so common?!?!).”

How reliable has your car been? Tell us about any issues.

Not a single issue in the past seven years of ownership. I’m continually surprised in how this vehicle still runs as well as the day I drove it out of the dealership. No rattles, creaks or engine issues.

That might be down to how conservatively it’s been driven, but 51,500km down and the only thing I’ve replaced has been the battery.

What do you think of the ownership experience with your car?

Fantastic. Outside of the dealership experience, this car has been as reliable as it could be (nothing to fix!), cheap to run (91 RON fuel and ~8.0L/100km) and plenty of fun to drive around town.

One bugbear though is that the ground clearance is really poor. Small bumps lead to scraping the undercarriage, which is unavoidable.

How has the purchase and aftercare experience been with your car?

Mazda cars might be reliable, but the dealership experience has me seeking post-warranty servicing elsewhere. Time and time again, extra charges (above and beyond the price schedule set by Mazda) were added to my bill (such as wheel check and alignment, even though there were no tyre wear or steering issues).

There was also the time they had promised to update the MZD system and just completely forgot to do it during a service, even though it was noted on their servicing slip.

They also once sent me a notification to have a ‘spring service’. I asked them what this was as my car wasn’t ready for a service and they said it’s an ‘extra’ service to keep the car running well… what the?

This might have just been the experience at my specific dealer, but it left a sour taste in my mouth.

I was also provided great advice from a number of non-Mazda mechanics around how to take care of the vehicle to keep it running well (i.e. prolong life of the tyres, battery, wipers, etc…), which only cemented for me the fact that a non-Mazda mechanic was the best way to go.

It’s worth noting I this car hasn’t seen a Mazda dealership since 2018 (just the first three years).

Are you happy with the price and features of your car?

Like so many Japanese cars higher up the model line, this car came (almost) fully loaded.

The only features it was missing at the time was active cruise control, sunroof and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay (which was brand new at the time, and only added to MZD in subsequent years).

To think that seven years ago, $30k bought you an ‘almost’ top of the range small car! I felt this was absolutely worth the price of admission when I bought it

What do you think of the performance and economy of your car?

Very tall first gearing meant I was mostly changing into second gear in the middle of a corner. I quickly got used to this, but have no idea what Mazda was thinking given the strong low-to-midrange torque.

However, that strong torque makes 2-3-4 gear on some twisty roads an absolute delight. Driving up a hill? No problems!

Drop a gear and this guy still pulls like a truck. A few runs down the black spur in Melbourne and the twisty roads up Falls Creek during spring are a heap of fun.

0-100 is around 7.5 to 8.0 seconds.

Fuel economy figures (91 RON)

  • Highway driving ~6.5 L/100km
  • City driving ~8.3L/100km

What do you think of the technology in your car?

For its age, fantastic. Cruise control, satellite navigation, Bluetooth with voice assistant, head-up display, rear parking sensor and camera… lots of airbags!

So much of this is now standard on base models, but at the time a reversing camera was just a little bit fancy.

The fact you can pay ~$450 to have Mazda add wired Android Auto/Apple CarPlay to the car if you want is also a bonus.

What do you think of the ride comfort and handling of your car?

Comfort – meh (low profile tyres, high levels of NVH).
Handling – superb (low profile tyres, light steering, great chassis setup).

At the time, I’m not sure you could find a car as fun to drive as this was. Sure, you sacrifice some comfort, but that’s not really the point of the SP25 GT badge.

Do you have any additional comments about your car?

A fantastic first car or fun second car.

Link copied!
Also on CarExpert
Overall Rating

Ride & Handling7.8
Price & Features8.5
Purchase & Aftercare6
Performance & Economy9
Ownership Experience8