As someone who grew up in the ‘90s, I’ve seen compact sedans grow in size and become sportier in appearance within 2 decades. Among those who improved a lot in aesthetics is the Mazda3 Sedan. You can’t deny it — it’s one of the most beautifully-designed sedans in the market today. However, does it drive as good as its looks?
To satisfy our curiosity, Mazda Philippines lent us the top-of-the-line Mazda3 Sedan 2.0 SkyActiv R variant. We took it out for a spin and here’s what we think.
The Mazda3 Sedan is sleek and good-looking at any angle. The long hood, short trunk design looks nice; add the 18-inch rims to that and you have yourself a fast-looking car. You can thank Mazda’s KODO: Soul of Motion designlanguage for that, which is apparent to the rest of their vehicle range (well, except for the BT-50 pickup truck).
I specifically like its front and rear lamp configurations — they are like eyes of a beast who’s ready to conquer the road. Its LED daytime running lights add appeal to that, while the automatic LED headlights complete the sporty look at night time.
The 3 sedan has a black-themed interior with dark brown leather accents on the center console and door panels. This is a reminiscent of the classy cabin of the bigger Mazda6 Sports Wagon. The genuine, perforated leather seats feel nice, while the buttons, knobs, and even the plastics are all soft to the touch. Overall, with the added ambience brought about by the sunroof, its interior feels plush and upmarket.
Another thing we like about the 3 sedan is its standard tablet-like touchscreen head unitwith a beautifully-designed interface. It’s intuitive and idiot-free, while smartphone pairing can be easily done via USB or Bluetooth. It also houses the vehicle settings for convenient features such as rain-sensing wipers, auto-door locks, and speed limit warning — although it could use a more audible signal for the latter.
When it comes to space, the Mazda3 sedan has lots of it. The wiggle room for 5 averagely-built occupants (myself included) are more than enough for a comfortable ride. The trunk has ample space too, which can fit up to 5 huge duffle bags and be further maximized by folding down the rear back rests.
As expected with a sedan, the Mazda3's suspension can take reasonable road imperfections, although it’s a bit jittery with bigger potholes. Its best trait, however, is the G-Vectoring control (GVC). It reduces body roll when cornering, which makes driving and riding the 3 sedan enjoyable. We specifically felt that on winding roads and when exiting expressways where there’s a long turn.
It’s important to note that the Mazda3 Sedan’s engine is a bit noisy when in high RPMs, even when the radio is on. This may affect the comfort of the people inside, but if you're the type who prefers the roaring sound of a naturally aspirated engine, you're sure to enjoy this one.
Speaking of the engine, under the 3 Sedan’s hood is a high-compression 2.0L SkyActiv-G gasoline mill that promises more torque at low- and mid-speeds, without compromising fuel efficiency. It produces 153 hp and 200 Nm of torque, which is at the middle when compared to its Japanese compact sedan counterparts like the Honda Civic 1.5 RS Turbo and Toyota 2.0 Corolla Altis V.
This engine produced enough power and torque at lower gears, which meant fast acceleration. This power delivery remained consistent even at high speeds, which gave us confidence in overtaking. The 6-speed automatic transmission (with paddles shifters) also allowed smooth and on-point gear-shifting.
The steering is light, which made city maneuvers easy. It gets a bit heavier at high speeds for a composed and stable drive on the highway. The disc brakes worked perfectly as well, and made me feel safe even at high speeds.
It’s a whole new world (insert Aladin) when in Sport mode. Here, the engine tend to stay at higher RPMs, maximizing the pulling power at every gear. Downside is, it will consume more fuel.
Fuel consumption at an average highway speed of 90 km/h is 17.5 km/l (Sport mode is at 13.1 km/l), while light traffic at 60 km/h read 10.9 km/l. Stop and go situations at 15 km/h—such as EDSA at 7:00 p.m.—gave out a fuel consumption reading of 6.5 km/l with its i-Stop (idle stop) feature on.
The Mazda3 Sedan 2.0 SkyActiv R definitely walks the talk. Aside from the good looks, it has several convenient tech features, great driving dynamics, and more-than-decent fuel economy, which make it an enjoyable car to drive. With that, I’d like to think buying yourself one is a reward for years of hard work. Besides, its price tag of P1,248,000 is the least expensive among its mentioned rivals like the Civic RS Turbo and the Corolla Altis. Pretty good deal, if you ask me.
153 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Mazda 3 Sedan 2.0 SkyActiv R AT
Number of Cylinders
Number of Valves
SkyActiv Drive 6-Speed Automatic w/ Sport Mode
Max Output (HP)
153 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Max Torque (nm)
200 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
Economy & Environment
Number of Doors
Number of Seats
Safety & Security
Front Passenger's Airbag
Electronic Brake Distribution
with Electronic Brake-force Distribution
Electronic Door Locks
Speed Sensing Door Locks
Lane Departure Warning System
Blind-Spot Detection System
Front Parking Sensors
Rear Parking Sensors
Push Start Button
Wheels Metal Type
Electronic Automatic Dual-Zone Temperature Control