- Handsome and exotic styling
- Best interior quality in the segment
- Mature driving experience
- Disappointing fuel efficiency
- Some rivals present better value for money
- No more manual gearbox option
We’re big fans of the Mazda3 here at DiscoverAuto. Mazda’s stylish small hatchback and sedan may not be the most practical offering in the small car segment, but it looks great, its interior quality surpasses offerings even in the premium small car segment, it drives well and it’s quite well equipped across the range. But the best part to us is that even if you choose an entry-level or one above model, you still get the same exotic and premium feeling as the top-spec Astina. To prove our point further, we tested the 2024 Mazda3 G20 Evolve.
It’s true that small cars don’t sell as well as they did previously – especially because of SUVs – but there are still quite a few on the market, including the Toyota Corolla, Skoda Scala, Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 308, Kia Cerato and Hyundai i30. Does the second-from-base G20 Evolve have enough to set it apart?
How much does the 2024 Mazda3 G20 Evolve cost to buy?
While the least expensive Mazda3 is priced from around $34,500 drive away, we tested the one up from base G20 Evolve, which is priced at $31,870 +ORC (around $36,000 drive away).
Mazda3 G20 Evolve standard equipment:
- 18-inch grey alloy wheels
- Automatic dusk-sensing all-LED exterior lighting
- Automatic rain-sensing wipers with integrated washer jets
- Remote keyless entry with push button start
- Auto-folding exterior mirrors
- Auto-dimming interior mirror
- Dual-zone climate control with rear air vents
- Cloth upholstery
- Leather steering wheel and gearknob
- 8-way manually adjustable driver’s seat and a 6-way manual front passenger seat
- 8.8-inch infotainment screen
- Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Satellite navigation
- AM/FM/digital radio
- 7.0-inch digital driver’s display
- Eight-speaker sound system
- 2x USB-A charging ports
- Rear centre armrest with cupholders
Mazda3 G20 Evolve standard safety equipment:
- Seven airbags
- Auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection
- Adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality
- Lane departure warning with lane keep assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Driver attention monitoring
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Low-speed automatic rear braking
- Rear parking sensors
- Reverse camera
- Auto high beam
- Head-up display
The entire Mazda3 range earned a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2019 scoring 98 per cent in adult occupancy protection, 89 per cent in child occupancy protection, 81 per cent in vulnerable road user protection and 76 per cent for safety assistance.
Mazda3 G20 Evolve colour options:
- Soul Red Crystal (+$595)
- Machine Grey (+$595)
- Polymetal Grey (+$595)
- Snowflake White Pearl
- Platinum Quartz
- Deep Crystal Blue
- Jet Black (on our test car)
The Evolve is also available with the $2,000 Vision Technology Package, which was fitted to our test car and adds:
- 10.25-inch centre screen
- Front parking sensors
- 360-degree camera
- Adaptive lane guidance
- Front cross-traffic alert (with braking)
- Driver monitoring
For competition, while there aren’t as many offerings in the small car segment as there once was, the Mazda3 still competes with fierce competition. We consider the Toyota Corolla SX (priced from around $36,500 drive away) to be the Mazda3 G20 Evolve’s main competitor. It’s priced similarly, offers a similar level of practicality inside and a similar level of features – 7.0-inch digital driver’s screens, seven airbags, a full suite of active safety kit, dual-zone climate control with rear air vents, two USB ports and all-LED exterior lighting with automatic wipers.
Against the Corolla SX, the Mazda3 G20 Evolve adds a larger centre screen (8.8-inch versus 8.0-inches), two more speakers (eight versus six), under-thigh angle adjustment for the driver’s seat and a head-up display. Over the Mazda3 G20 Evolve, the Corolla SX adds live services for the infotainment system (including automatic SOS calling in an accident), wireless phone mirroring, a wireless phone charger, heated mirrors, lane trace assist, rear privacy glass, smart key entry and front parking sensors. While the Mazda3 is well equipped for the money, we think that the Corolla adds enough kit over it to consider it as better value for money. We think this particular Mazda3 should have features like a wireless phone charger, wireless phone mirroring, live services, USB-C ports and smart key entry as standard – especially considering how much its price has grown in recent years.
How fuel efficient is the 2024 Mazda3 G20 Evolve?
Under the bonnet of the 2024 Mazda3 Evolve is the same 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine that’s done duty in a plethora of Mazda products locally that makes 114kW of power (at 6,000rpm) and 200Nm of torque (at 4,000rpm) versus the 126kW and 203Nm outputs of the 2.0-litre petrol Corolla SX. It’s mated only to a six-speed torque converter automatic transmission – versus a CVT in the Toyota – that sends power to the front wheels. Its 1,414kg tare weight is 25kg more than the more powerful Corolla, which makes the Toyota feel punchier.
The engine in the Mazda3 doesn’t set the world alight with its performance but gives you more than adequate torque for around town driving. Peak torque hits at a reasonably low 4,000rpm so that you can make reasonable progress without having to floor it, but when you do do, the 3 G20 isn’t especially fast. Mazda doesn’t quote a 0-100km/h time, but we’d wager it to be above the 10 second mark, which is fine for most drivers but those wanting more grunt will have to upgrade to the larger 2.5-litre G25 Evolve SP. The 2.0-litre engine is also a bit loud at higher revs – though still quieter than the Corolla – however, we like its raspy lower rev range noise.
The only transmission available now on the Mazda3 range is a six-speed torque converter automatic, which is definitely more natural feeling than the fixed first gear CVT automatic that features in the petrol Corolla. The 3’s transmission always impresses us with its intuitive nature and unobtrusiveness in regular driving. It’s quite well tuned and there’s a meaningful difference in sport mode too, plus, it cleverly knows when you’re no longer needing maximum performance in sport mode and happily quietens down.
The claimed combined cycle fuel consumption for the updated 2.0-litre Mazda3 hatchback is 5.9L/100km, with claimed CO2 emissions of 138g/km versus the 2.0-litre non-hybrid Corolla SX’s 6.0L/100km fuel consumption rating (Toyota strangely doesn’t quote its CO2 emissions for this Corolla). We achieved 7.8L/100km in our testing, which we found disappointing, especially given that cylinder deactivation for better economy was added to the 2.0-litre engine with this 2024 update. Helping running costs is that it can run on 91RON regular unleaded, while it also has a 51-litre fuel tank.
How does the 2024 Mazda3 G20 Evolve drive?
For its intended target market, the 2024 Mazda3 G20 Evolve is great to drive. It’s quiet at speed, it handles well and its active safety technologies are nicely integrated and are quite subtle in their operation – plus, there’s a new button that mutes audible warnings as well. The 3’s visibility is not so great, however – over-shoulder checks can be difficult thanks to the window line, while the driver’s side mirror is annoyingly zoomed in, so you can’t see all that’s in your blind spot. Thankfully, the standard blind-spot monitoring is attentive with warnings in the head-up display and the high quality 360-degree parking camera of the optional Vision Technology Package is excellent quality.
As for the actual driving experience, the Mazda3 offers a nice balance between sportiness and comfort, though we think the Corolla is slightly nicer to drive thanks to its independent rear suspension set up, which allows more flexibility in the ride comfort. Because of the Mazda’s torsion beam, when one rear wheel hits a bump, it affects the other, so even smaller bumps can be felt more than in the Corolla. The Mazda’s steering is a bit heavy for our liking as well, though it’s got more feel than the Corolla. The Mazda3 will still give you a good time from behind the wheel – as you’d expect from the ‘zoom zoom’ brand – though the Corolla can be more fun as the Mazda3 is more grown up for this generation.
How practical is the 2024 Mazda3 G20 Evolve?
As we’ve discovered previously with the Mazda3, its cabin is richly presented, easy on the eye and its technology is nicely integrated as well – plus, that goes for even the entry-level variants as well, which is rare in the new car market. Of course, the Evolve doesn’t feature the same high quality leather trim as the Astina, but the plastics, switchgear and stitching still feel great. Not much has changed with this update, but for quality it’s one of the best cabins in the hatchback segment.
Throughout the cabin of the 3 G20 Evolve are nicely textured and rich feeling materials, from the cloth on the seats and steering wheel to the leather-like trim on the dashboard and the sides of the centre console. The switchgear – like the window switches, air-conditioning controls and air vent adjusters – all feel great to the touch and decidedly premium and are definitely a step up on the Corolla.
Mazda hasn’t changed the 3’s cabin practicality, so it’s still not amazing, but it still offers a few handy storage solutions. Underneath the centre arm rest is a large storage box with two USB-A ports and sectioned storage, while the door bins are reasonable, the cup holders are big and the glovebox is acceptably big as well.
At the centre of the Mazda3 G20 Evolve’s cabin is the same 8.8-inch infotainment screen as before but our test car featured the Vision Technology Package that adds a larger 10.25-inch screen that’s standard on the GT and Astina. Regardless of size, the screen also now offers touch capability, though only for when using the (wired only) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring. But surprisingly given that you must have the handbrake on in the larger CX-60 and CX-90, the Mazda3’s touchscreen functionality for the smartphone mirroring can be used at any speed. Otherwise, the system is identical to before, with a fairly minimalist layout, classy graphics and a quick processor – plus, live features are due to be added later this year.
The back seat of the Mazda3 hatchback is not the most spacious in the segment, especially for taller folk, but it does offer more space than the Corolla. Headroom is reasonable, but legroom isn’t great. Thankfully, there are features like a map pocket (but not two), air vents, door pockets and a centre arm rest with cupholders, though we’d like to see charging ports on offer too. The seats themselves are quite comfortable, however, and impressively, the soft touch door materials continue into the rear cabin.
The boot of the 2024 Mazda3 G25 Astina hatchback measures 295-litres with the seats up, which is larger than the Corolla SX’s 217L boot but still not huge in the segment – Mazda doesn’t quote a figure with them folded. While it is a nicely finished boot with thick carpeting, it doesn’t have any features like hooks or nets. Under the boot floor lies a space saver spare wheel.
How much does the 2024 Mazda2 G20 Evolve cost to service?
Like all other new Mazda passenger vehicles, the 2024 Mazda3 G20 Evolve is equipped with a five-year/unlimited km warranty with five years of roadside assistance. Five years/75,000km of servicing costs $2,142 ($428 per service) and the service intervals are now once-yearly/every 15,000km, and not the shorter 10,000km intervals of previous Mazda3s, which matches Toyota.
Toyota matches Mazda with a standard five-year/unlimited km warranty coverage, though it doesn’t offer any roadside assistance. However, servicing a Corolla to logbook requirements adds an extra two years of mechanical warranty and five years/75,000km of servicing costs just $1,225 ($245 per service).
Should I buy a 2024 Mazda3 G20 Evolve?
Overall, the 2024 Mazda3 G20 Evolve presents solid buying in the small car segment. It looks great, it drives well, its cabin quality is excellent, it’s well equipped and it is covered by a reasonable aftersales service. Aside from larger engine and extra features like leather upholstery, there isn’t much to differentiate the Evolve from top-spec Astina either, and the Evolve’s cabin still makes you feel special for a whole lot less money. Of course, the Astina justifies its larger price tag through more features, but buyers who don’t need them or can’t afford it shouldn’t feel shortchanged because for this price, the 3 is definitely the most luxurious new car available.
Counting against the Mazda3 G20 Evolve is a somewhat lacklustre drivetrain that could be both punchier and more efficient, a cabin that’s snug in the rear and thanks to some recent price rises, it’s starting to get expensive. But these issues don’t take the shine off what is one of our favourite small cars and again, if you’re after one, you’d be crazy not to test drive the Mazda3.