Mazda 3 (2013-2018) Review and Prices

Unlike some family cars, the Mazda 3 comes packed with loads of high-tech kit as standard, but it’s just not as practical as a VW Golf or Vauxhall Astra

Buy or lease the Mazda 3 (2013-2018) at a price you’ll love
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RRP £17,315 - £25,860
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Used
£9,184
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wowscore
6/10
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Lots of standard kit
  • Good looking cabin
  • Punchy diesel models

What's not so good

  • Cramped back seats
  • High-end models are expensive
  • Not quite as well built as alternatives

Find out more about the Mazda 3 (2013-2018)

Is the Mazda 3 (2013-2018) a good car?

The Mazda 3 is a sporty looking alternative to the likes of the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Skoda Octavia and VW Golf. It’s also available as a four-door saloon – called the Mazda 3 Fastback – that’s reviewed separately.

The standard car being reviewed here was first introduced in 2013 but underwent a few revisions in 2016 to keep it looking fresh. You now get some glossy black interior trims, a revised seven-inch infotainment screen and satellite navigation as standard across the range.

Its touchscreen is relatively easy to use and comes with a handy scroll wheel control – just like in an Audi or BMW. Unfortunately, you can’t get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring systems (like you can in rival family cars) so you can’t use your phone’s navigation or music streaming apps through the car’s built-in display.

Besides this slight disappointment, the Mazda 3’s cabin looks smart – although it doesn’t feel quite as sturdily built as the inside of an Audi A3 or Volkswagen Golf. There are lots of soft, squidgy materials in areas you touch regularly – such as on the doors – and some contrasting red stitching on the standard leather-trimmed steering wheel.

Leather seats are an expensive option across the range, but at least the standard cloth items come with loads of adjustment to help you get comfy. Even entry-level cars get adjustable lumbar support to help reduce backache on long journeys.

Things aren’t quite so comfortable in the back. There’s way less space than in a Skoda Octavia and the Mazda’s small rear windows can make it feel slightly dark and claustrophobic.

The Mazda’s boot is also not as roomy as those in other small family cars. It’ll only swallow 364 litres of luggage with the back seats up and 1,263 litres with them folded flat – compare those figures with the Skoda Octavia’s 590 and 1,580 litres, and the Mazda looks a bit, well, small.

Unfortunately, you don’t get any handy underfloor storage and the Mazda’s boot lip is rather large which makes lifting in heavy luggage a bit of a pain.

A Mazda might not be your first choice for a family car but the 3 does a fair (if slightly forgettable) job of providing a viable alternative to the Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
Carwow expert

But the Mazda 3’s limited range of engines – two petrols and two diesels – will be more annoying if you’re looking for a car that perfectly suits your needs.

The range starts with the 120hp 2.0-litre petrol. It returns around 45mpg in normal driving compared to Mazda’s claimed 55mpg – which makes it the best pick if you spend most time driving around town, but one of the two diesel models is a better bet if you do lots of motorway miles. The 1.5-litre diesel will return around 60mpg in real-world conditions while the much faster 2.2-litre model manages around 55mpg.

Sadly, the Mazda 3 isn’t a car best suited to cruising because there’s quite a lot of wind and tyre noise on the motorway, especially in Sport Nav models with their larger 18-inch alloy wheels. Whichever version you pick, a VW Golf will be more comfortable and slightly easier to manoeuvre around town thanks to its improved visibility and tighter turning circle.

At least a five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP in 2013 means the Mazda’s safe. Although, even that comes with the caveat that newer five-star-rated cars, such as the Hyundai i30, subjected to the later (tougher) tests will offer more protection in a crash.

The Mazda 3 is still worth considering if you’re after a sporty looking family car that comes with loads of equipment as standard. Unfortunately, it can’t quite hold a candle to the likes of the more practical (and more comfortable) VW Golf, Skoda Octavia or Audi A3.

How much is the Mazda 3 (2013-2018)?

The Mazda 3 (2013-2018) has a RRP range of £17,315 to £25,860. The price of a used Mazda 3 (2013-2018) on Carwow starts at £9,184.

How practical is it?

There are no complaints about the comfort in the front seats, but it’s feels rather dark in the back seats and it’s not that easy to install a child seat

Mazda has worked really hard on the small details, like the stowage in the cabin, but it's missed a few tricks, such as having no hooks for your shopping bags in the boot

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
Carwow expert
Boot (seats up)
364 litres
Boot (seats down)
1,263 litres

Both the steering wheel and driver’s seat come with loads of adjustment as standard so you won’t have any trouble getting comfortable. Even entry-level models come with adjustable lumbar support too, so you won’t suffer from too much back ache after a long journey.

All 3s come with five doors so it’s relatively easy to jump in the back but passengers over six-feet tall may struggle for headroom. The fairly slim rear windows and thick pillars (where the doors meet the roof) make the back seats feel slightly dark and dingy, too – unlike in the relatively airy VW Golf.

There’s plenty of knee and foot room so smaller adults and kids will have no trouble getting comfortable but carrying three tall passengers abreast is a much tighter squeeze than in the roomy Skoda Octavia. The Mazda just can’t muster up as much shoulder room and there’s a slight lump in the floor that gets in the way of your middle passenger’s feet.

It’s not particularly easy to fit a child seat, either. You get two sets of Isofix anchor points as standard but they’re hidden away behind the seat padding and the 3’s low roofline means you’ll have to stoop down to strap in a child if you’re quite tall.

You can fit a large bottle in each of the Mazda’s front doors and there’s enough room in its glovebox for another large drinks bottle. You get a front armrest as standard with a handy storage bin underneath that’s just about large enough for a small bottle or for hiding a few valuables out of sight. There’s also a small storage tray under the centre console for your phone and a pair of cupholders under a sliding plastic cover.

Things are a little more spartan in the back but you still get a few small door bins, a central armrest and some netted pockets in the front seatbacks as standard.

You can fit 364 litres of luggage in the Mazda 3’s boot with all five seats in place. As a result, you’ll have no trouble loading a baby stroller and some soft bags but the 370-litre Vauxhall Astra and 380-litre VW Golf can carry slightly more and the Skoda Octavia’s 590-litre boot is in another league.

Unfortunately, there’s a large boot lip which makes loading heavy or bulky items tricky and there aren’t any handy shopping hooks to stop your groceries rolling around in the back. The boot’s reasonably square shape means you won’t have too much trouble packing it full of suitcases or square boxes, however.

You can fold the rear seats down in a two-way (60:40) split to carry some long luggage in the boot and a passenger in the back at the same time. Fold all three seats down (using the latches beside the headrests) and you’ll open up a 1,263-litre loadbay. It’s larger than the 1,210-litre Vauxhall Astra and 1,215 Ford Focus but not quite a match for the 1,270-litre VW Golf or the class-leading 1,580-litre Skoda Octavia.

There’s easily enough room to carry a bike with one of its wheels removed, however, and the flat floor makes it easy to slide heavy boxes right up behind the front seats. Unfortunately, there isn’t any underfloor storage and you can’t adjust the boot floor height to reduce the size of that awkward load lip.

What's it like to drive?

The Mazda’s top-spec 2.2-litre diesel engine is reasonably smooth and even quicker than the more powerful petrol, but a Golf is more comfortable and a Focus is more fun to drive

Don’t expect the 3 to feel like an MX-5 sports car just because they share a Mazda badge – it’s actually a fairly sedate family car that’s nowhere near as fun to drive as a Ford Focus

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
Carwow expert

You can get the Mazda 3 with two petrol and two diesel engines and with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Live and drive in the city? Pick the 120hp 2.0-litre petrol engine. It’s larger than the engines you’ll find in most other small family cars but it doesn’t have to work quite so hard to provide similar performance. As a result, it’s quite quiet when you’re cruising and it’ll return around 45mpg in normal driving (compared to Mazda’s claimed 55.4mpg). A more powerful 165hp petrol model is also available but only in range-topping (and rather expensive) Sport Nav trim.

If you spend more time on the motorway pick one of the two diesel engines. The entry-level 1.5-litre model isn’t as smooth as the petrol models but it’ll return around 60mpg in real-world conditions. Don’t expect it to be particularly fast, however – accelerating from to 62mph takes a leisurely 11 seconds.

By contrast, the 2.2-litre diesel model is actually the fastest in the Mazda 3 lineup. It’ll sprint from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds (compared to the fastest petrol model’s 8.2 second time) yet returns around 55mpg in the real world. Both diesels do make a lot of noise however, even at a constant speed.

The standard six-speed manual gearbox is easy to use but you might want to consider the optional automatic if you spend a lot of time in heavy traffic. It’s a little slow to respond when you accelerate hard but gives your foot a rest from operating the clutch on long journeys. It’s available on 2.0-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel models for an extra £1,200.

The Mazda 3’s relatively easy to see out of but its thick rear pillars – where the doors meet the roof – create some awkward blind spots that can make parking slightly nerve-wracking.

Thankfully, SE-L Nav models and above come with rear parking sensors as standard and range-topping Sport Nav cars get both front parking sensors and a reversing camera, too. The Mazda’s turning circle is rather wide, however, which can make navigating through tight city streets more difficult than in a VW Golf.

It isn’t quite as comfortable over rutted roads as a Golf, either – especially if you pick a Sport Nav model with 18-inch alloy wheels. SE Nav and SE-L Nav models are slightly more comfortable – especially around town – but all Mazda 3s suffer from lots of tyre roar and wind noise on the motorway.

This problem is worsened by the near-constant drone in the diesels. Thankfully, the two 2.0-litre petrol versions settle into a much quieter cruise at motorway speeds.

The Mazda 3 might look rather sporty, but on a twisty backroad it’s nowhere near as sharp or as responsive as a Ford Focus. Its steering feels only tenuously connected to the front wheels and its suspension has been designed to isolate you from the road rather than glue you to it.

It is pretty safe, though. Euro NCAP awarded the Mazda 3 a five-star safety score in 2013. The tests have been made stricter since then, but a 2016 update means all 3s come with a system that’ll automatically apply the brakes if it detects there’s an obstacle in the road ahead.

For a little extra peace of mind, pick the optional Safety Pack – it comes with lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and even a feature that’ll automatically brake to stop you reversing into parked cars.

What's it like inside?

The Mazda’s interior comes with plenty of soft-touch materials and bundles of kit as standard but it doesn’t feel quite as solid as the likes of the VW Golf

Mazda 3 (2013-2018) colours

Mica - Eternal blue
Free
Pearl - Snowflake white
Free
Solid - Arctic white
Free
Special metallic - Soul red
Free
Metallic - Aluminium silver
From £550
Metallic - Sonic silver
From £550
Mica - Blue reflex
From £550
Mica - Deep crystal blue
From £550
Mica - Jet black
From £550
Mica - Meteor grey
From £550
Mica - Titanium flash
From £550
Special metallic - Machine grey
From £670
Next Read full interior review
Buy or lease the Mazda 3 (2013-2018) at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £17,315 - £25,860
Carwow price from
Used
£9,184
Ready to see prices tailored to you?
Compare used deals