When we drove the all-new Mazda 3 Sedan in CarBuyer Singapore issue 221, we were very much impressed by its all-round package. Certainly, it was one of the best-driving cars in its class, no doubt about that, and the amount of equipment you get for the money was pretty mind-boggling. Unfortunately, it was let down a tad by its anaemic and somewhat uncouth powerplant, but for the most part the new 3 had a lot going for it. And judging by the number of examples we’ve seen on the roads so far since its launch, it looks like many car buyers agree too.
READ MORE: Mazda 3 Sedan review
On the face of it, the hatchback version we have here should be broadly similar. Same engine, same specifications, heck it’s even in the same shade of red as the sedan test car we had the last time around. But are they really the same two peas in the pod?
Of course, the obvious difference here is the way they look. The sedan is a pretty handsome car in itself, but in our opinion, the hatch looks even better, what with its sleek, swoopy roofline leading on to its nicely-curved rear end. There’s a bit of a ‘sportback’ look to it, and the silhouette is somewhat similar to, say, a Renault Megane RS, in that it could almost pass off for a coupe, if the rear doors are omitted.
Dimensions-wise, the hatchback is some 120mm shorter than the sedan in overall length, and boot space is reduced by 100 litres as a result (414 litres to 314 litres). But there appears to be no significant loss in cabin space, probably due to the fact that the wheelbase remains unchanged (2,700mm), and that the hatch is actually in fact 15mm taller than the sedan, ostensibly to accommodate for the sloping roofline.
Other than that, the 3 hatchback is indeed more or less the same as the sedan. It remains an absolutely joy to drive, with tremendously capable handling, pin-sharp direct steering, a well-sorted suspension set up, and an overall sense of balance that makes it easily the best driver’s car in its class. As a testament to Mazda’s dedication to weight-saving, the hatchback is only 4kg heavier than the sedan, itself already a lightweight at just 1,339kg.
Again, unfortunately, the hatch is bestowed with the same 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which puts out 118bhp and 150Nm of torque as the sedan. It proves adequate for the most part, but it does make a meal of proceedings, requiring a bit of a prod to get things going. And it does so with a bit of a ruckus, letting you know that it doesn’t quite enjoy being hustled along. 0-100km/h is 0.1 second slower than the sedan (11.8 seconds), and top speed drops to 180km/h, from 185.
Still, if you don’t really mind a bit of unrefinement in exchange for what is otherwise an excellent driver’s car, and you much prefer the looks of a hatchback over a sedan, then you can’t go far wrong with the Mazda 3. For less than $120,000, you get a good-looking, well-equipped and great-driving family car, which should make most people a happy bunch indeed.
NEED TO KNOW
Engine 1,496cc, 16V, in-line 4
Power 118bhp at 6000rpm
Torque 150Nm at 4000rpm
Gearbox 6-speed automatic
Top Speed 180km/h
0-100kmh 11.8 seconds
Fuel efficiency 5.7L/100km
Price $114,988 with COE
Also Consider: Hyundai i30, Toyota Auris, Volkswagen Golf
READ MORE: New look at 2015 Mazda2