Three Japanese rivals to the Mazda3

Having adopted the Mazda3 moniker over the 323 in 2004, the Mazda Mazda3 (no, really) has gone from strength to strength. In the last 15 years, more than six million units of this vehicle has been sold and is it available in over 120 countries.

Earlier in 2019, Mazda South Africa launched the newest version of the 3 locally and is the automaker adamant that the latest iteration will succeed, as well. The 2019 model is available in both hatchback and sedan, and is powered by two petrol engines: a 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre. The model we have here is the 1.5 Individual in sedan guise and is fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox. The 88kW and 153Nm the engine produces are sent to the front wheels, and the car has enough in the pocket to deliver a good enough ride quality.

Mazda went to great lengths to improve the car’s cabin and its feel. This Individual is decked in leather seats, electric adjustment for the driver’s seat, keyless entry, head-up display, and rake and reach adjustment for the steering wheel. The use of soft-touch materials adorns the interior and the stitched touch where the panels meet further enhances the interior’s feel. The sense of space is carried throughout and one is never confronted with the feeling that you’re cramped.

Priced at R418 800, this specific model comes up against some stiff competition from its country of birth. We look at three Japanese rivals the Mazda3 1.5 Individual sedan has to beat in South Africa.

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Image: Charlen Raymond

1. Toyota Corolla

The all-new Toyota Corolla arrived locally in 2019, but this time there is no sedan in the line-up. However, the previous generation’s sedan is sold alongside the new model. In terms of the sedan, the closest model to the Mazda3 Individual is the 1.8 Exclusive. It retails for R371 100 (and R384 900 for the automatic option). It’s naturally-aspirated engine delivers 103kW and 173Nm, while a six-speed manual also sends power to the front wheels. It boasts with seven airbags, leather upholstery, and a boot space of 452L. This Corolla does have the price advantage, but only because it is, technically, a car that first came to market in 2014.

The hatchback, however, is a much newer proposition and features a turbocharged 1.2-litre engine. Priced between R346 600 and R377 500, the new Corolla undercuts the Mazda by quite a margin but it is a much closer rival to the Mazda3 hatchback.

For our opinion on the all-new 2019 Toyota Corolla, click on the link below.

2. Honda Civic 1.8 Elegance

Honda revised its civic range earlier in 2019 to bring it more in line with the competition (ie, Mazda3), but the car is showing its age against its countryman. The Civic is very well priced against the Mazda (R416 700) and boasts with an extensive list of standard features. Included in the deal are 17-inch wheels, rear view camera with park distance control, leather upholstery and heated front seats, a driving mode selector (sport/comfort), six airbags, and rain sensor wipers. It’s a strong list that only highlights the car’s value.

Powering this sedan is a naturally-aspirated 1.8-litre petrol engine, but it is, sadly, mated with continuously variable transmission (CVT). Lay on the throttle and the 104kW/174Nm the engine produces struggle somewhat to get to the tyres; thanks largely to the choice of gearbox.

Still, the Civic is one of the world’s best-selling vehicles of all time – having sold in access of 20 million units since the 1970s. If not for the Civic, Honda might not have been here today.

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Image: Charlen Raymond

3. Subaru Impreza

Hiding in the shadows almost not being noticed is the Subaru Impreza. The two-model range is not setting sales charts alight, but Subaru still rates the sedan as an important vehicle in its arsenal. Priced at R392 000 for the 2.0i and R450 000 for the 2.0i-S ES, the range effectively places the Mazda3 in the middle in terms of pricing.

Using the more affordable Impreza as a reference, the Scoobie features seven airbags, keyless entry, voice control, climate control, 460L in boot space, and a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre engine.

The engine is also mated with a CVT gearbox and produces 115kW and 196Nm. The big news: the Impreza sends its power to all four wheels. Subaru retained its famed all-wheel drive system on the Impreza, but 0 – 100km/h still takes just under 10 seconds to be completed.

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Image: QuickPic