Mazda 3 Fastback 2014 review

6 Jun, 2014 10:00am Luke Madden

Attractive four-door Mazda 3 Fastback is a surprise sales hit

Verdict

4
The Japanese brand was only expecting 15 per cent of buyers to go for the Mazda 3 Fastback, but nearly a quarter have chosen it so far. This flagship auto version isn’t necessarily the pick of the range – it’s pricey and the gearbox can hamper performance. But with a comfortable ride and involving handling, we can see the appeal, especially as it costs the same as the hatch.

This is the Mazda 3 Fastback - a saloon version of the brand's small family car. Across the globe you’ll find saloon versions of the Ford Focus and Opel Astra, but these compact saloons don’t tend to make it to the UK. The decision to launch the Fastback here looks like it’s paid off, with 23 per cent of buyers already opting for it.

The reason? Well, the Fastback is stylish, with a bigger boot (the 419-litre space is 55 litres up on the hatch) and costs exactly the same as the more traditional 3. It’s a larger car but also more aerodynamic than the five-door, so it emits 1g/km less CO2 as well.

Not all of the engines available in the hatch are available here – there’s no 1.5-litre petrol, for example. You can, however, get a 2.2-litre diesel or the 2.0-litre petrol driven here, which is also hooked up to a six-speed auto.

It’s a solid combination, with the well sorted gearbox software ensuring you never feel like you’re in the wrong ratio. And paddles behind the steering wheel let you take control anyway.

Mazda 3 Fastback 2014 rear tracking

The engine is quiet, plus powerful enough for 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds – although the manual car takes just 8.8 seconds. What’s missing is the mid-range shove we’ve become accustomed to from turbocharged engines like Volkswagen’s TSI or Ford’s EcoBoost.

Mazda’s clearly put a lot of work into the Fastback’s chassis set-up – not only does it flow nicely over cracked, bumpy roads, it’s also really sharp in bends. Not many cars in this class are genuinely fun to drive, but the 3 Fastback has the measure of the VW Jetta. Mazda often talks about injecting its cars with some of the handling magic from the MX-5, and it’s done a good job with the 3.

Cabin quality is impressive, too, plus our flagship Sport Nav has sat-nav, keyless go, air-con and electric windows. If only the infotainment was as intuitive as the latest VW touchscreen system.

At £21,095, the 3 is pricey – lower-spec cars look better value – and high-mile drivers should buy the diesel. But we can see why the Fastback is proving more popular than Mazda predicted.

Disqus - noscript

I see the charm in Mazda 3 Fastback. To my eye it looks (much) better than the hatchback which isn't bad looking either. It has a bigger boot yet costs the same.
Main attraction for me though is the natural 2L petrol engine with manual transmission that matches MPG and emissions of the European rivals' 1L and 1.2L units.

Had one of these for a weekend on loan from my local dealer, a hatch with the 2 litre low power engine and SE spec. One of the most impressive cars I've driven in recent years. Entertaining to drive yet refined. In fact there is virtually nothing I dislike about it aside from SE spec cars looking a touch 'under wheeled' on 16" alloys and also a digital rev counter which could be larger. A bit pricey perhaps, yet it looks and feels like a quality product. Go for a fastback model in Sport spec in either white or red - they look superb.

Perhaps that the secret of selling small saloons in the UK and where Ford is going wrong. Just badge it as a "fastback" instead!

Alan Partridge used to drive a Rover Vitesse Fastback.

Take the diesel! The petrols are good, , but the diesels are a far better drive. Aussie versions of the Mazda 3 use the same 129kw & 420 nm torque diesel as the CX5 & New 6.. All of our petrol & diesel models are auto only. No manuals are offered here. The base models come with the Mazda connect in car system including rear view camera ,.audio/video streaming etc. Maxx includes nav , emergency assist connect etc. The next 2 models add more equipment & the new top spec Astina Diesel will come with all of the equipment of the maxx plus, powered drivers seat, full leather trim, DAB radio , Led Tail lights, Xenons, , auto park assist , high beam assist, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning , speed assist, radar cruise , HUD of Nav , Speed Etc. Nav info & updates , alternate route info, POI info etc can be sent directly from a smartphone direct to the cars hard drive, so that means no more expensive DVD purchases for mapping as the updates are Google based & regular. via the vehicles connect system. Currently this feature is not available on Euro or US spec cars as it uses our updated 4.5G phone system. 4.5 G won't be available until late 2015 in Europe & mid 2016 in the US. The top spec Astina Diesel here will be around $38,000 plus driveaway , which will put it closely with the VW Passat 130 tdi, Skoda Octavia 135TDI RS, Subaru Outback 2.0D Premium & Subaru Forester 2.0DS. Half the price of an equivalent Audi, BMW, Merc etc with nothing being optional on the Mazda!

Didn't he also drive a mk1 Lexus IS?

Did anyone read all that? Life's too short.

Key specs

  • Price: £21,095
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol
  • Power: 118bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 10.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 123mph
  • Economy/CO2: 50.4mpg/128g/km
  • On sale: Now
For more breaking car news and reviews, subscribe to Auto Express - available as a weekly magazine and on your iPad. We'll give you 6 issues for £1 and a free gift!

Sponsored Links