£17,295 - £22,545 Price range
48 - 72 MPG
The Mazda 3 Fastback is the saloon version of the company’s family hatchback and adds extra practicality to a car that already offers good value for money, smart looks and a fun driving experience. The Volkswagen Jetta is the Mazda’s most direct rival – the Audi A3 saloon and Mercedes CLA are similar in size, but more expensive.
Inside, there’s smart piano black trim combined with an overall feel of durability and robustness. Next to the hatchback, the saloon body shape provides more room for back-seat passengers and has a bigger boot.
The way the Fastback drives is also praised by reviewers – it corners with a balance similar to that of the Ford Focus and ride quality is rarely criticised except on the largest wheels. On the motorway the Mazda is quiet and comfortable.
Despite the limited engine choice for the 3 Fastback all of them are modern and punchy enough to satisfy most buyers. The larger 2.2-litre diesel is the better choice if you plan on doing lots of miles and want some added mid-range thrust, but for most the entry-level petrol is perfectly adequate and cheaper to buy, too.
On top of the good handling and stylish cabin you also get generous equipment levels with all models coming with a seven-inch touchscreen, air-conditioning, electric windows all round and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Have a look at our dimensions guide for even more detail on the Mazda 3 Fastback.
Cheapest to buy: 2.0-litre SE petrol
Cheapest to run: 2.2-litre Sport Nav diesel
Fastest model: 2.2-litre Sport Nav diesel
Most popular: 2.0-litre Sport Nav petrol
Similarly to the hatchback, the Fastback gets a stylish and understated cockpit that is well-made to Mazda’s usual high standards. Poke around and you’ll find some plastics that fall behind the standards of a Volkswagen Golf, but the car’s piano-black trim lifts the overall feel of the interior.
All of the systems are easy to navigate, everything is within the driver’s reach, and the pedals and steering are light to operate.
Mazda 3 Fastback passenger space
Both versions of the 3 benefit from a great driving position with plenty of adjustment to the seat and the steering wheel. Thanks to a longer wheelbase, the Fastback has more legroom than a Ford Focus. The hatchback’s sloping roofline means rear-seat passengers can feel a little claustrophobic, but the Fastback’s taller roofline (and added headroom) addresses that problem.
Mazda 3 Fastback bootspace
Another advantage the Fastback has over the standard car is its bigger boot. With the seats up you get 419 litres of space – thats 55 more than you get in the hatchback. Fold the rear seats and that rises to 1,263 litres. The VW Jetta has a larger boot at 510 litres with the seats up, but the 3 Fastback’s boot is in a more useable shape and has a lower loading lip.
All of the cars in the current Mazda range are nice to drive and the Fastback is no different. Mazda says they put a little of their MX-5 sports car’s spirit in all of their other models and as a result many reviewers frequently compare the 3’s driving characteristics to those of the class-leading Focus. Some even prefer it over the Ford. Testers report good grip, easy control of the car and an overall feeling of balance and agility.
Many cars that are good to drive sacrifice ride comfort but that’s not the case with the Mazda. If you don’t specify larger wheels then the Fastback is a quiet and refined motorway cruiser that is rarely unsettled by broken road surfaces. The Fastback being more aerodynamic means it’s quieter at speed than the hatchback.
The manual gearbox feels nice to use but the same can’t be said for the cheap-feeling shifter.
The 3 hatchback has a pretty limited engine line-up and the Fastback gets one less – there’s just one petrol and one diesel to choose from. Both are adequate, but not class leading. There is a choice between a six-speed manual or an automatic with the same number of gears – pick the manual for performance and the auto for effortless driving.
Mazda 3 Fastback diesel engines
The diesels kick off with a 1.5-litre diesel that produces 105hp. It’s slightly down on power compared to the 1.6-litre diesels in the VW Jetta or Vauxhall Astra, but it’s healthy 199lb ft of torque should provide enough punch for most drivers. With a combined fuel economy figure of 74mpg, it’s marginally more frugal than the larger 2.2-litre option and also qualifies for free road tax. However, if you opt for the automatic gearbox, performance is dented and road tax increases to £30 a year.
The larger diesel in the range is a 2.2-litre four cylinder and is quite good. The eight second 0-62mph sprint is impressive for a car without any performance aspirations, and mid-range acceleration is even more impressive. However, if you opt for the automatic, the acceleration time increases to 10.3 seconds. Official combined fuel consumption is 72.4mpg, but reviewers say it is tough to get that figure in the real world while annual road tax is £20.
Mazda 3 Fastback petrol engines
The petrol can return a claimed 55mpg, but is more fun to drive. Its a 2.0-litre four cylinder, but lacks the turbocharger that most rivals offer in their models. As a result the performance is adequate, but lacks the mid-range pull of VW’s TSI or Ford’s EcoBoost engines. You will pay £30 for annual road tax which is £10 more than what you’d pay for the diesel unless you opt for the automatic, which increase that figure to £110.
The hatchback version of the 3 was tested by Euro NCAP in 2013 and scored the full five stars. Being in essence the same car, the Fastback should be just as safe. It comes with plenty of airbags, stability and traction control, but best of all an emergency city braking system is standard.
Mazda 3 Fastback Sport Nav
Choose the top of the range Sport Nav Fastback and for an extra £700 you can specify the Safety Pack. It includes headlights that follow the road and dip automatically, as well as a blind spot warning system, which alerts the driver to vehicles that might not be picked up by the car’s mirrors.
As with the hatchback, the Fastback gets decent equipment for its price. It’s available in SE, SE-L and Sport Nav trim levels.
Mazda 3 Fastback SE
Even basic SE models get 16-inch alloys, air-conditioning, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, all round electric windows and the steering wheel and gear knob are upholstered in leather. The central seven-inch touchscreen is also standard across the range but you’ll have to move up to the SE Nav trim to get satellite navigation.
Mazda 3 Fastback SE-L
SE-L is the next trim level up and comes with cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, heated front seats, and dual-zone climate control on top of what SE gets. Outside it gets rear parking sensors and LED rear lights.
Mazda 3 Fastback Sport Nav
The top of the range Sport Nav gets tasteful kit such as keyless entry, front parking sensors, head-up display, cruise control with adjustable speed limiter and a superb sound system on top of the extra safety equipment. A boot spoiler differentiates the Sport from lesser trim levels.
The Mazda 3 Fastback doesn’t have any direct rivals and looses out to the VW Jetta in terms of build quality. Nevertheless, it comes with a stylish cabin, good equipment levels, a comfortable ride and is more practical than the 3 hatchback.
Around a quarter of Mazda buyers opt for the saloon, proving there’s still an appetite for four-door family cars in the UK market – we wouldn’t be surprised to see rivals from Ford and Renault in the very near future.