We’ll be starting the year with the vehicle that we think is the most memorable amongst all of the cars we’ve driven for the entire 2019. Yes, we may have driven exotics like the Nissan GT-R, a muscle car like the Ford Mustang, or traveled across Luzon in luxury with a couple of friends with the Toyota Alphard, along with, of course, another mix of premium and mainstream vehicles somewhere in between.
Among all the cars we’ve driven for this year, the car that stood out the most for us in 2019 isn’t a luxury car nor a fire-breathing sports car. It’s something that’s relatively affordable that’s starting to be a common sight in Philippine roads. The car we’re talking about is the all-new Mazda 3.
Why the Mazda 3? Well, anyone can easily be swooned by a stonking high-performance machine’s blistering performance and breathtaking noise, but because they are all machines that are priced high up in the stratosphere, you may as well expect these cars to be stellar in the first place. What makes the Mazda 3 stand out is its ability to revise your expectations from a compact (C-segment) passenger car.
We’ve driven the car in Clark International Speedway and Baguio whilst having an intimate chat with the development team behind the all-new Mazda 3. If Mazda is already so obsessed with small details such as creating the perfect wiper blade and the most satisfying door thud, what more when the entire vehicle is taken into account. From the leather-clad interiors, crisp Bose sound system (even the base 8-speaker Mazda Harmonics Acoustics audio system is excellent), and the newfound driving pleasure through a combination of smoothness and agility, the all-new Mazda 3 has been designed to offer the luxury and premium experience from a class above down to a more accessible price point.
Granted, the Mazda 3 ain’t cheap. With a starting price of P1,295,000, it’s one of the costlier options in the compact passenger car segment, but Mazda combats this with generous equipment levels even in the base 1.5 Elite variants. Stepping up to the 2.0 variants further adds goodies like the Bose sound system, high-resolution 360-degree camera, and the full suite of i-Activsense semi-autonomous driver-assist features.
Apart from the features, while most of its competitors have an interior that feels mass-produced, the Mazda 3’s feels more special—as if it was made in an atelier. There’s sophistication in every touchpoint that’s ever so absent in most of its competitors.
And then once you step out of the vehicle, you can’t just help but stare at it, appreciating the evolved Kodo design language. The lack of character lines in its sheet metal is unlike any vehicle you see on the road. Mazda says that due to the lack of any character lines, developing the manufacturing process of the all-new Mazda 3 was difficult, since it will be hard to tell whether the vehicle’s panels are aligned or not.
Despite the manufacturing challenges of the Mazda 3’s design, the Japanese brand from Hiroshima was still able to deliver way beyond what the category offers—punching way above the category it competes in. Not only is the vehicle fundamentally a standout, but its aftersales service is also ahead of the pack. Backed by a free preventive maintenance program for three years along with a dealer network that has cumulatively been considered as the best in terms of customer satisfaction by J.D. Power in 2019, the Mazda 3 is an award-winning choice from purchase to ownership.