Is the premium price tag on the latest Mazda3 justified?

When you talk about the Mazda3, people automatically relates to  a sporty looking sedan or hatchback that has always been the left field choice for buyers who didn’t want the common Honda Civic or Toyota Altis. To continue the charge, Mazda Malaysia brought forth  the Mazda3 CBU unit,  with a somewhat hefty price tag. We’re here to try to answer the question whether is the price tag justifiable?

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If you don’t know much about cars, you may not spot the difference between the current Mazda3 from the third-generation one. The new Mazda3 brought forward the same kodo design language from the previous gen which still look immaculate and silky smooth. If you’re an owner, you’d sure give it a second glance after you walk away from the car.

The variant that we’re testing is the Mazda3 2.0 High variant that comes with the smaller rims and higher profile tyres, measured in at 205/60 R16, that takes away some of upmarket look of the car. That can also be said about the headlights, as the Daytime Running Lights is halogen bulb type, rather than the full LED headlights in the Mazda 3 High Plus variant.

Moving inside the 2019 Mazda3, the whole cabin of the car just screams premium. There is a clean-cut leather dashboard and plenty of soft touch materials all around. The cabin also gives you the sense that everything is designed to be minimalistic just like the neatly integrated climate controls, and logically laid out infotainment knobs and buttons.

The steering wheel is also quite a work of art. There are aluminum buttons blends with plastic buttons that further brings more premium feel to the cabin, but the steering girth is a little on the thin side for my liking. Looking at the instrument cluster, you will find that there is a 7” TFT multi-info display that takes center stage while an analogue tachometer with temperature/fuel gauge make up the instrument cluster. There is also a 3-D looking HUD (heads up display) that shows you your speed while you’re driving.

Getting comfortable in the driver seat is effortless as there is a 10-way electrically powered seat adjustment, and you’ll be sitting on perforated leather seat that keeps your rear cool on long journeys. Another thing that keeps you comfortable on long journey is the tall center console that make you feel cocooned inside the car. The height of the center console is perfect for my elbow, where my elbow can rest on the center armrest while my hand rest on the gear lever naturally.

The gear lever is wrapped in leather and there is a nicely weighted aluminum push button that gives a satisfying feel when you’re moving the gear lever. On top of the center console, you’ll also find the neatly arranged knobs and buttons that controls the 8.8” widescreen infotainment display to go with eight clear and crisp speakers around the car. The wide screen infotainment display is high resolution that comes with android auto and apple carplay, but sadly it is not a touch screen display. The wide screen layout means the reverse camera will not fill up the whole screen when you go into reverse. Speaking about reverse, you don’t get reverse sensor in this variant of Mazda 3, which could catch new owners off guard when reversing.

Storage compartment inside the car is fairly sufficient. You do get a big glove box, but the door pockets can be a little too slender and only fit a couoke of 500ml bottles and paper folders. The boot space is rated at 444 liters, but it’s actually fairly deep. You can extend the boot space by folding down the rear seats into a 60:40 split. The rear seat also have the same perforated seats as the front with a center armrest that comes equip with 2 cup holders. As for head- and leg-room, space is somewhat just sufficient but a 3rd passenger in the center might find it a but cramp, especially  6-footer. The Mazda3 comes with a tall center tunnel that is required to fit a driveshaft for the AWD variant of Mazda3 in other countries.

For safety features, the package is very complete for this global model, you do get the usual 7 airbags, Anti-Lock Braking System(ABS), Dynamic Stability Control(DSC), Electronic Brake-Force Distribution(EBD), Emergency Brake Assist(EBA), Traction Control System (TCS), Emergency Stop Signal(ESS), Hill Launch Assist(HLA), and of course the fame G-Vectoring Control Plus Technology (GVS Plus) that keeps the car on the road during the corners.

The latest Mazda3 uses the carry forward powertrain from the previous generation. You get the same 2.0 naturally aspirated inline 4 engine that pushes out 162HP at 6,000rpm and 213Nm at 4,000rpm. The engine have plenty of pulling power, but it didn’t like pedal to the metal type of driving. By doing that, you’ll end up getting plenty of engine noise, but not much to go around. The best way to get the engine going is by maintaining the car within the power band and you’d probably pick out everyone even on an uphill. The 6 speed conventional gearbox is smart in holding on to the right gear when you’re going uphill and downshifts on braking to keep the engine within the powerband.

Mazda did not fit the new Mazda3 with any fancy suspension system, rather you can find the modest McPherson struts up front and torsion beam at the rear (it used to be multilinks). With the lacking of sophisticated suspension, Mazda still manage to tune the suspension to make the car feel planted. The body roll in the car is kept in check by the suspension, while the shock absorbers soaks up all the bumps with ease. Meantime, high profile tyres kind of do the trick in the balancing game as well.

The electric power steering in the Mazda 3 is direct and precise. It will direct the car to whichever direction you want the car to go. To bring the car to a stop, you’re given four wheel disc brakes to work with. The stopping power is sufficient, but the brake pedal can be a little hard to depress. The most noteworthy feeling about driving the Mazda3 is that you’re positioned very close to the center of the car, which means you can feel that you’re driving something sporty.

Going back to the question, is the RM 150,059 that you’re paying for the New Mazda3 sedan justifiable? This C-segment sedan is definitely on the expensive side, but this is a very able compact sedan. And we could say it’s one of the best handling Japanese-make sedans on the market, currently. The price tag might be a scare for potential buyers, but fret not, Mazda Malaysia has something up their sleeves for this generation Mazda3. Stay tuned for more updates…

With that pricing, Mazda does give you 5 years or 100,000km warranty coverage and free service which includes parts, lubricant, and labor. You can get the new Mazda3 in 6 different colours, namely Soul Red Crystal, Machine Gray, Snowflake White Pearl, Sonic Silver, Jet Black, and the color of our test car Deep Crystal Blue.