Mazda 3 Review: The Ultimate City Car

There’s a reason the Mazda 3 won the 2020 Word Car Design of the Year Award. And that reason becomes crystal clear from the moment you set eyes on the thing. It’s smooth, classy, practical and the less is more approach does the minimalist type proud. But all this fanciness aside, what is the Mazda 3 like to drive, own and live with? 

Is it comfortable? 

City cars need to be agile, smaller than most and pull off that polished look even on a rushed commute. Safe to say the plucky 3 will always be a pleasure to relax into. The front cabin is well organised. Excuse me. Impeccably organised. In fact, you’re left wondering whether the designers at Mazda are competing with themselves to design the perfect interior. With loads of headroom in the front, comfortably adjustable seats, and a conveniently placed infotainment system, it’s only the back seats that lack the same level of Feng Shui. 

How’s the drive?

Get the manual gearbox and you’re in for some fun. Don’t, and you’ll be in for a mediocre ride. If you want a hatch dripping with power then look elsewhere, but if you’re after a fun time, stick around because the Mazda 3 is even more fun than it looks. The naturally aspirated petrol engine is a happy one too, and with a surprisingly energetic chassis, the ride feels intelligent and light-hearted. 

Living with a Mazda 3

If you fork out for the semi hybrid, you’re basically saying goodbye to eye-watering fuel stops, which is great news for local taxis. The new Skyactiv-X M hybrid engine uses a system called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, which essentially revolutionises the Mazda 3’s electrical system, drawing power from the brakes and championing more efficient combustion techniques. But even on a base level Mazda 3, you’re in for a cheap ride. Safety is also a priority in the new model. With a high score on the ANCAP safety rating, this city car is quietly protective, conservative on fuel, and simply fun to be around.

What’s the party piece?

Sitting behind the wheel, Mazda has made disappointment virtually impossible. Things that come standard like an active driving display, LED headlights, a push-start button, rain-sensing wipers and GPS navigation, oh and a CD player… the party piece is more of an ensemble than anything else. The neat storage compartments, the simplicity, the comfortable driver’s armrest, it’s all been so carefully considered you can’t help but smile. Being so tightly packed with all things premium, it’s a small car owners’ dream.


Despite some issues with space in the rear, (anyone who is over 6-foot – make sure you yell shotgun) the Mazda 3 is simply a delight to cruise around the city and even take for a spin down the highway. If you walk in expecting a good city car, you’ll be set up for a surprise. The latest model isn’t your average upgrade, it’s gone further than that, from design to the thought behind the car. It’s special.