Mazda Mazda 3 Saloon 2004 - 2008

Mazda Mazda 3 Saloon 2004 - 2008

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Gives a scintillating drive
  • Decent rear passenger space
  • Exceedingly reliable

Cons:

  • Firm ride around town
  • Wind and road noise is evident on motorways

Overview

The Mazda 3 was based around the Ford Focus platform and as such comes with excellent handling and excellent body control, making even the more demanding roads enjoyable to drive along. The look of the Mazda 3 is also more stylish than the Focus although the interior is starting to look a little dated. It comes with plenty of space for rear passengers in both the hatchback or saloon models. There is a good choice of engines in the hatchback, although the saloon only comes with half the number.

Exterior and Interior

The Mazda 3 is far more stylish than the old 3 as is the interior, even if it is a bid drab and hasn't aged particularly well. The cabin is spacious though, with good head and legroom for passengers in both the front and back with the seats being both comfortable and supportive. The boot is a good size in the hatchback at 346litres whilst the saloon comes in with 413litres, easily enough to hold a couple of week's worth of shopping. The backs seats also split and fold flat increasing the loading space for any oddly shaped items of luggage. There is also plenty of storage space in the cabin that comes in the form of cubby holes, a glove box, cup holders and door pockets. When it comes to selecting a trim level go for the TS as the standard S trim is too basic whilst the TS2 and Sport don't add much more for your money.

Performance and Economy

The entry level 1.4-litre petrol unsurprisingly feels a little underpowered and needs to be worked hard to get anything out of it with a slow 0-60mph in 14 seconds. It is admittedly the most economical in the petrol range achieving 42mpg, but the 1.6-litre isn't far behind with 39mpg and it gives a much more sprightly drive. The 1.6-litre still doesn't break the under 10 second barrier going from 0-60mph in 10.6 seconds, but it has proved the most popular of the petrol engines in the hatchback. The 2.0-litre is quicker going from 0-60mph in 8.8 seconds and the economy isn't too bad dropping down to 35mpg. The diesel engines are a lot more fuel efficient and have proven to be the more popular engines too with the entry level 1.6-litre with 90bhp being the most economical at 60mpg. It's not too slow either with a time of 11.8 seconds from 0-60mph with the more powerful model doing it in 11.2 seconds, but its fuel efficiency drops down to 58mpg. The 2.0-litre unit is exceptionally smooth going from 0-60mph in 9.7 seconds, which may not be the quickest diesel engine around, but it adds plenty of pulling powering making overtaking a breeze. The insurance costs vary depending on the engine you choose. The 1.4-litre comes in at group 3 followed by the 1.6 petrol and diesel engines in group 5 and the 2.0 units in group 8.

Like to Drive

The Mazda 3 is based on the Ford Focus and as such you would expect its handling to be just as good. The handling is sharp and precise with both the hatchback and saloon models having excellent body control in the corners making the more demanding and twisty roads fun to drive down. The suspension is a bit stiff which you feel at lower speeds but once on the motorway things smooth out nicely. The engines all run quietly apart from the smaller 1.4 which can be heard when pushed hard. The cabin also does a good job of insulating you from the worst of the wind and road noise.

Faults and Repairs

Mazda has proven to be extremely reliable over the years and as such you shouldn't expect to see many problems from the Mazda 3. The only thing to crop up was turbo failure on some of the earlier diesel models, but other than that just the standard things should be checked if buying one second hand. It will cost more to service than the Vauxhall Astra, but this can be reduced by taking it to an independent specialist garage. Repairs will also costs more than most rivals however the chances of you actually needing repairs are few and far between so you can rest easy on that front.