- Dynamic driving capability
- Interior layout and quality
- Slinky styling gives it an Alfa Brera look
- Small boot versus key rivals
- Short service intervals
- Not cheap to buy or service
The Mazda3 has been a staple of the mid-sized hatch market since its released in 2003. It rejuvenated Mazda’s lineup and – like the Ford Focus that it shared mechanicals with – proved that driving a regular small hatchback could be fun. Skip forward three generations and the new ‘BP’ generation is decidedly more premium than previous Mazda3 models, but in a world full of SUVs, does it matter? We think the need for hatchbacks is still there and to prove that, we tested the new 2022 Mazda3 G25 Evolve SP hatchback.
New to the 2022 model year, the Evolve SP is more sporty-looking offering to the Mazda3 range. It rivals the likes of the Toyota Corolla ZR hatch, Kia Cerato Sport+ Hatch and Hyundai i30 N Line Hatch. But can the trusty Mazda3 reign supreme? Let’s find out.
Price & Equipment: 8/10
The 2022 Mazda3 G25 Evolve SP sits in right in the middle of the range, so while the entry level G20 Pure starts at $26,540 plus on-road costs, the 3 G25 Evolve SP is priced at $31,490 plus on-roads (around $35,500 drive away).
Being a mid-spec model, the Mazda3 G25 Evolve SP comes decently well equipped. It comes with 18-inch black alloy wheels, LED lighting (albeit with dated halogen daytime running lights), auto lights (that cannot be switched off in dark lighting, bravo Mazda!) and wipers, dual-zone climate control with rear vents, keyless entry and start, auto-folding and auto-dipping (but not heated) mirrors, a 10-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat with memory functionality, an 8.8-inch infotainment screen with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, digital radio, an eight-speaker sound system, a rear centre armrest, paddle shifters and two USB-A ports.
Safety kit is extensive and includes seven airbags, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, rear auto braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, a reversing camera with rear parking sensors, a heads-up display, auto high beam, driver attention monitoring, tyre pressure monitoring, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality.
Optional on the 2022 Mazda3 G25 Evolve SP is a six-speed automatic transmission for $1,000. There is also the option (only on the automatic transmission) of a Vision Technology package, which includes a 360-degree parking camera, lane trace assist, front parking sensors, front cross-traffic alert and extended driver monitoring.
Colour options include the no-cost ‘Sonic Silver’, ‘Deep Crystal Blue’, ‘Jet Black’, ‘Snowflake White’ and ‘Platinum Quartz’ (gold). For an extra $595 you can choose from ‘Soul Red Crystal’, ‘Machine Grey’ and our test car’s ‘Polymetal Grey’. Black cloth with red stitching is the only interior option and there is no option for leather – you need to go to a higher model for that.
Main rivals to the 2022 Mazda3 G25 Evolve SP hatch are the Toyota Corolla ZR hatch (priced from $32,695 plus on-road costs), Hyundai i30 N Line hatch ($29,720 +ORC) and the Kia Cerato Sport+ Hatch ($31,140 +ORC). The Corolla ZR in particular looks like good value against the Mazda, as it matches its safety kit, while adding half leather and suede, heated front seats, a premium sound system and an electric driver’s seat.
Performance & Economy: 8/10
The sole engine option for the Evolve SP variant of the Mazda3 is the brand’s familiar 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol donk that has been in Mazdas for a while now. It produces 139kW of power (at 6,000rpm) and 252Nm of torque (at 4,000rpm). It is a good engine with good outputs compared to its naturally aspirated rivals, although we found that you have to rev it out to get the most out of it.
The standard transmission is a six-speed manual transmission, Mazda manual gearbox’s are always fantastic and this one is no exception. Our test car was fitted with the optional six-speed torque converter automatic transmission, which is rather good, although we found that it can sometimes hold onto gears for a little longer than needed.
The engine/transmission combo in the 2022 Mazda3 G25 Evolve SP is rather good, especially considering how old it is. We would still say it is better than the likes of the Toyota Corolla’s engine, with its stepped CVT gearbox and the Kia Cerato’s lethargic 2.0-litre engine and six-speed automatic. The 1.6-litre turbocharged engine in the Hyundai i20 N Line produces more power and torque (150kW/265Nm) than the Mazda and while we prefer the engine in the Hyundai, the dual-clutch transmission can be quite unrefined.
The claimed average fuel consumption for the Mazda3 G25 Evolve SP is 6.6L/100km. Compare this to the 7.1L/100km rating of the i30 N Line, the 6.0L/100km rating of the Corolla and the 7.4L/100km rating of the Cerato Sport+ and the Mazda’s rating isn’t bad, especially considering its size. Our week spent in the Mazda, in mostly urban driving, we saw an average of 8.2L/100km. The Mazda3 features a 51-litre fuel tank and it can use 91RON regular unleaded.
Ride & Handling: 8/10
The 2022 Mazda3 range has a torsion beam rear suspension setup, which is rather old school, so you’d think it wouldn’t ride as well as rivals with independent rear suspension and you’d be wrong. It rides rather well and while an independent rear suspension set up would be better, we aren’t unhappy with the current setup. The Toyota Corolla does ride a little nicer and offers a more comfortable drive. however.
Mazdas are always more dynamic than their rivals and the Mazda3 is no exception to this. The 3 is an excellent handling car – it corners relatively flat and is very nimble for a mid-sized hatch. The steering has a nice weighting to it giving you the confidence to push it through the corners, though its steering could use some more fluidity at lower speeds.
One of the biggest improvements about the latest Mazda3 compared with the last generation car is the lack of road noise. No matter the surface and despite the 18-inch wheels on the Evolve SP model, the 3 is quiet and offers comfortably the least road noise levels in the segment.
The active safety systems on the Mazda3 is very good as It is very unintrusive, which is exactly what you want. The lane keep assist works well to help you stay in the lanes, the adaptive cruise control does a good job of keeping the distance between you and the car in front of you and the blind spot monitoring will illuminate a triangle in the wing mirror to help notify when something is there. Unlike the Cerato and i30, it has auto rear braking as well, which will help with low-speed reversing accidents.
Interior & Practicality: 8/10
If you were to look at a previous generation Mazda3’s interior and compare it to the 2022 Mazda3, you would be forgiven to think that they were two completely different brands. The fit and finish, as well as the ergonomics in the new model are a massive upgrade on the previous generation car. We would go as far to say it has the best cabin in class.
The storage solutions in the Mazda’s front cabin are rather good. There is a funky centre console that can be slid back and then opened that has 2 USB-A ports, two cup holders with a cover to hide keys etc, a cubby to hide change near the drivers knee, a large glove box, a place for your phone in front of the cup holders and nicely sized door bins. The cabin is much more practical than the model it replaces.
The quality of materials is generally excellent in the 2022 Mazda3 G25 Evolve SP. The dashboard facia is covered in a soft touch leather-like material which makes the interior feel more premium, the cloth seats have the right amount of padding and bolstering and while there are some hard plastics in the cabin, they aren’t overwhelming like the previous model Mazda3.
The 8.8-inch infotainment screen that sits central in the dash of the Mazda3 is integrated very well, unlike some cars where it seems the screen is just sitting on top of the dash. Unlike the previous generation, the screen is no longer controllable by touch, it is solely operated by the toggle wheel on the centre console, which we found easy to get used to. The full-screen Apple CarPlay and Android Auto looks great and the inbuilt satellite navigation work well.
Sitting in the rear seats isn’t an uncomfortable experience and the rear seat room isn’t bad, but most rivals offer more space. The window line in the rear is also very high in the hatchback, meaning some kids won’t be able to see out. People sitting in the rear middle seat will need to be careful as if the front passengers open the glovebox because of the unique way it opens it will hit their knees. There is a seat pocket on the back of the front passenger seat, rear air vents, rear door pockets and a fold down centre arm rest with cup holders, though no charging ports.
Opening the boot of the 2022 Mazda3 hatch reveals 295-litres of cargo space, which isn’t huge and the boot – albeit well finished – has barely any hooks, net tie points or extra storage. A space saver spare wheel lies underneath the floor. By comparison, the Kia Cerato hatch can swallow 428L of cargo, the Hyundai i30 hatch has 395L and the Toyota Corolla ZR hatch has 333L – though, with no spare wheel.
Service & Warranty: 8/10
Like all other Mazda products, the 2022 Mazda3 comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which is the same period of warranty offered on the Hyundai i30 and Toyota Corolla, but the Kia Cerato trumps them by a whole two years for seven years of coverage. The Mazda comes with five years worth of roadside assistance as well, regardless of where you service it – Hyundai and Kia give you five years in total if you service your cars at a dealership. Toyota, on the other hand, gives you no roadside assistance.
Servicing comes around every 12 months or 10,000km (same interval as the Hyundai i30 N Line), which is short – the Toyota Corolla and Kia Cerato Sport+ only need servicing every 12 months or 15,000km. The cost to service the 2022 Mazda3 G25 Evolve SP over the span of five years or 50,000km is $2,010 (an average of $402 per service). The Toyota Corolla is the segment winner for cheap servicing as it costs just $1,025 over five years or 75,000km.
2022 Mazda3 G25 Evolve SP DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.0/10
The 2022 Mazda3 G25 Evolve SP is a very appealing car in the mid-sized hatchback segment and such a leap from the last model. We love that it is good enough to pull people out of their small SUVs and into something that handles better and is better looking. So would we buy a Mazda3? Yes, we would but our money would be going towards a G25 GT, which is $4,000 more, yep, but it adds quite a lot of equipment like leather upholstery, a Bose sound system and heated front seats.
Yes, the service intervals could be longer and the engine is old now, but we still think the Mazda3 is a very relevant car. Is it better than its rivals? In some ways yep. It feels more refined and well rounded than most offerings in the segment, which its interior feels special as well. If you’re looking for a small hatch – or even a similarly-sized SUV – we think the Mazda3 should be on your test drive list.