The car you see above is the all-new Mazda 3, it’s a good-looking hatchback that goes up against the Peugeot 308 and the Volkswagen Golf, and by the end of this article we’re going to discover if it is worth its 100,000 Dirham price tag.
Improving on the brand’s KODO design language, the designers have taken a good-looking car and made it even better. The all-new fourth-generation model is sporty, aggressive, but it’s also elegant, especially in this beautiful Soul Red Crystal Metallic color.
An interesting fact is that while the Mazda 3 is available as a sedan and a hatchback, the two body styles don’t share any body panels whatsoever. With the sedan positioned as the practical choice and the hatchback as the sporty choice, it gets dark chrome accents, a blacked-out mesh grille, black alloy wheels, aftermarket looking LED taillights, and dual chrome exhausts.
What is also impressive and worth mentioning is how Mazda has integrated all the sensors for the safety systems such as the Adaptive Cruise Control and Auto Emergency Braking into the glass enclosed logo on the grille. We’ve seen it earlier on more expensive cars but it’s great to find it on the Mazda 3, it really cleans up the design without affecting the functionality.
When it comes to the design and overall fit and finish, Mazda have nailed it. The cabin looks and feels premium with lots and lots of soft touch materials, and it could easily pass off as being twice as expensive. The dark red leather upholstery is also a unique color, in comparison to the usual beige, black and brown, and compliments the aluminum accents all around.
What’s nice to see is that although Mazda did go with a minimalistic approach and a very clean design, they have retained the physical buttons and knobs for important controls such as the volume, navigation, etc. This combination of modern and traditional is also seen in the instrument cluster with a 7.0-inch digital screen flanked by analogue gauges on either side.
Unfortunately, space in the back isn’t great. The effects of the sloping roof and small windows are definitely noticeable with tight headroom and legroom. Will the kids complain? Probably not, but the adults certainly will.
Attempting to justify its steep price tag, the Mazda 3 comes loaded with technology. You’re looking at electric seats with memory settings, a brilliant 12-speaker Bose audio system, blind spot monitoring, heads up display, around view cameras, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a sunroof, and that’s just a small part of what it has to offer.
Like all things, the Mazda does have its drawbacks, for instance the 8.8-inch infotainment screen which sits atop the dashboard is rich in color and clarity, but it does have an unnecessarily large bezel. Although there are 12V and USB outlets to charge your mobile phone, Mazda hasn’t included a wireless charger and that is a little strange for an all-new model. What’s even stranger is that the 2020 Mazda 3 comes with a CD player; some say that next year’s model is going to be fitted with an inbuilt fax machine and VHS cleaner as well…
Keeping its distance from the turbocharging trend, the Mazda 3 is fitted with a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine that produces just 153 horsepower and 200 Nm of torque. To put into perspective, these numbers are a lot less than what its rivals produce and so this results in the Mazda 3 being quite underwhelming to drive.
The sporty exterior does make you wish there was a lot more power under your right foot but then again Mazdas’ have never really been about power. Instead, the Mazda 3 is fitted with a suspension set-up that falls onto the stiffer side of the spectrum, a 6-speed automatic instead of a CVT gearbox, and a heavier steering for a sportier drive.
The i-ELOOP mild hybrid system that the Mazda 3 is fitted with, stores energy that would traditionally be lost when decelerating or braking and saves it in an auxiliary battery behind the rear seat. It then uses this power for the electrical systems and starter motor reducing load on the engine and allowing it to be more efficient, averaging 16.8 kilometers per liter.
Those of you who spend a lot of time on the highway, will be happy to know that the Mazda 3 does come with adaptive cruise control with stop and go technology. Set your desired speed and the car will not only brake and accelerate smoothly and automatically while keeping a safe distance from the car in front of you but will also bring you to a complete stop if needed.
Unfortunately, the lane departure alert and lane keeping systems don’t receive the same praise. The lane keeping system struggles to pick up the lanes on any and all roads and so what ends up happening is you just keep bouncing from one side of the lane to the other before you finally just switch the system off in utter frustration.
At 100,000 Dirhams the Mazda 3 Hatchback is good looking and well built, but also a little overpriced. Should you consider the Volkswagen Golf or Peugeot 308 instead? You could, but if you’re going to spend 100,000 Dirhams on a hatchback, you might as well get the Renault Megane GT. It’s better looking, got way more tech, and much, much, much more fun to drive!
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