Ever since Mazda implemented their SkyActiv technology, heads are turning even more to this Japanese brand. For years now, Mazda has shown its full potential with performance, design, fuel efficiency and even driver experience. The Mazda 3 is the forefront of this success being the best selling vehicle of the brand and the 2017 edition deserves no less but the best.
We took the Mazda 3 2017 SkyActiv R 5DR variant for a spin and we surely enjoyed it. Being a Mazda fan since childhood, I’ve seen the growth of the brand to what it is today.
Mazda 3 2017 SkyActiv R Specifications
- Engine: SKYACTIV-G In-line 4-Cylinder DOHC, 16 Valves with i-STOP (Idling Stop System) & i-ELOOP
- Displacement: 1,998cc
- Maximum Output: 153ps / 6,000rpm
- Transmission: SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-Speed Automatic with Sport Mode
- Recommended Fuel: Regular Unleaded 91-95 RON | Euro 4
- Suspension: Front MacPherson Struts | Rear Multi-Link beam
- Headlamps: LED with Auto Levelling, Auto Front Sensing & Day Time Running Lamp
- Wheels: 18″ Aluminium Alloy Wheels | 215/45 R18
- Front Brakes: Ventilated Discs
- Rear Brakes: Solid Discs
- Interior: Leather with 4-way Manual Adjust
- Entertainment System: 7″ Touchscreen LCD monitor, MP3, Aux-in, Two-USB, 12V power supply and Bluetooth Function
- Speakers: 6pcs system
- Safety Airbags: Passenger, Driver, Curtain
- Other mentions: Rear parking camera, rear parking sensors, Push to start button
- Special Features: GVC (G Vectoring Control), i-STOP idling stop system, i-ELOOP regenerative braking system
- Minimum weight: 1,318kg
- Dimensions L/W/H: 4,580mm x 1,795mm x 1,450
- Price (As of March 20, 2017): Php1,268,000
Admit it, every time you see one on the road, you’ll definitely admire its striking appearance and strong presence as compared to other cars on the road. So let’s see how the Mazda 3 2017 fairs in our experience.
It’s quite hard to see the difference of the new Mazda 3 2017 if you aren’t following the new releases every year, but overall Mazda made it cleaner, more striking and even edgy. The front and back rear bumpers are the most prominent in changes for this installment, the from bumper is now fitted with LED headlamps as standard with circular LED daytime running lights. As well as the fog light made more discreet with the signal indicators having a more horizontal strike for a more well complementing design.
The rear bumper, on the other hand, is cleaner with even the removal of the shark fin antenna at the roof as it’s now printed in the rear windshield. A rear camera can be seen below the Mazda emblem, along with 4 infrared sensors for proximity.
White LED headlights are installed as default, these are also accompanied with auto front sensing technology and daytime running lamp. We love the fact that this also introduces the technology of Mazda to automatically detect incoming vehicles and turns off your headlight from beam mode for a courtesy gesture.
Inside the Mazda 3 2017 are more welcomed changes, most significant you will see the removal of the handbrake where it is now replaced with an electronic parking brake.
With all the space saved removing the traditional handbrake, Mazda opted to bring in a curtain cover mechanism for the two cupholders. It’s a very stylish method to cover the cup holders when not in use, perfect for removing eyesores.
Interior of the Mazda 3 is something you expect for a car exceeding the 1M price point. Generous silver matte accents paired with leather wraps with stitches cover the hard rails and some instruments. The sleek lines and unsymmetrical shapes give the Mazda 3 its edgy feel, you can resemble its fast performance along with its interior.
Seats are made of leather, it has a perforated texture in the middle for easier breathing and to avoid sweating. Overall comfort and space are well thought of, even leg room is generous enough as compared to other sedans.
Among all inside the Mazda 3, we just felt the door instrument panel a bit off. The glossy black finished plastic is prone to scratches and we felt Mazda could have opted to a more non-evasive material to highlight this panel.
Just to give you more relevance of what it feels inside, you need to slouch back and relax. Unlike with other cars that you hold with two hands and drive, you’ll feel more at ease to hold the wheel with your left hand and your right hand in the center instrument panel controls. Mazda wants you to embody their “Soul in motion” design philosophy, meaning you are one with the vehicle when driving.
Side mirrors fold upon toggling the rotating switch, but we wished Mazda has the option to automatically fold it when the engine is off or in a certain number of time after the engine is off. Its a nice feature to have, but we keep on forgeting to fold it since its needed to be done when the engine is active.
Visibility is great in the front and side covering much you need. The rear view mirror with its auto dimming is highly welcomed especially when using a lowered vehicle. Of course, you can’t avoid trucks at your back at the high beam and the auto dimming helps you avoid the annoying glare.
The sunroof is controlled using a toggle in the front light panel. It will automatically roll back but it has no option to automatically go back. Pretty standard as to what we encountered to previous Mazda vehicles and it’s nice that it is tinted as standard.
Vanity mirrors also come with their own LED light, a nifty slide cover is also found to activate the light. These small gestures are highly welcomed for us and will surely entertain anyone onboard.
The Mazda 3 is using a 2.0 liters SKYACTIV-G In-line 4-Cylinder engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission mode. It also has a sports mode available for those time you need to rev up to 5000+ rpm to reach faster speeds at lower gears.
As same as before, Mazda has that premium engine sound that isn’t annoying. Even at idle the engine feels behaved but gives you the roar when pushing it. What we like about is that with every step of the accelerator is felt that you’re engaging with the engine to rev up regardless if you’re already at high speeds.
We can reach 0 – 100 at around 8-10 seconds. Of course, that is with moderation on the road and safety on top of our mind. When driving late hours in C5, it was a pleasure to drive with thrill. The engine is responsive, handling is accurate and easy and the suspension very responsive even with C5’s notorious bumpy truck lane.
The gas/accelerator pedal is already digital, so we felt there is a slight delay in the responsiveness. But through computerized input, Mazda calculates the best situation possible for every step you make. Overall, the delay isn’t something that will annoy you, but it’s just there.
We also tried the paddle shift with the Mazda 3, it’s quick and responsive as expected. Just make sure you know how to mix up the gears and acceleration or else you’ll end up slower than the default programmed automatic transmission.
Present besides the gear shift is the sports mode, when active, it enables you to rev up into faster speeds by allowing higher rpms of 5000+. This means, the car is able to push the engine harder instead of a steady increase of speed of 2500-3500rpm in default mode. This is perfect when overtaking or in times you just need to feel more of the vehicle.
With the 18″ wheels and tire size of 215/45, it’s a bit lowered as compared to other sedans at default configuration. We were a bit careful in descending ramps and humps, but fortunately, we didn’t encounter any scraping incidents.
Suspension feels smooth, enough to let you feel the road without the harsh vibrations. Plus Mazda even introduced their new G-Vectoring technology as standard to all Mazda 3 2017 variants. To make it short and understandable, it aims to remove forces that make you sway left and right when turning. This gives a better feel for the driver and passenger especially in long driving conditions for less fatigue and even a more engaging driving experience.
Here’s a more elaborative video about it
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to bring the car to a long drive session like Batangas or Tagaytay. But experiencing the Mazda 6 2015, Mazda 3 2016 and Mazda 2 2016 before, I can definitely say that this is the best one.
The dashboard on the Mazda 3 2017 is pretty much the same as before, although there were announcements of a colored LED Heads up display but it seems Mazda Philippines opted not to bring it here in the PH.
Unlike with the approach of other car manufacturers, we love that Mazda stays away from distracting lights for the driver. All you need to see in front of your are the necessary details in plain white LED, no colors and no animations. Of course, the speed indicator is located at the heads up unit where the current is displayed transparently when looking at the road.
Note: A blind corner indicator is available at the more high end SPEED model.
All the controls are located in the 7″ now touchscreen enabled center console. Details such as your fuel economy, tire status, maintenance details can be visited here.
The steering wheel is a delight to handle, the leather wrapped handle is soft and premium. It even has a chrome finish at the bottom where its perfect to hold with one hand in easy driving moments. The horn is located at the center and it, fortunately, it can be bumped slightly to bring weaker outputs as compared to other vehicles that has only one output for their horns.
While the steering wheel on the left includes control such as your Bluetooth device pairing for calls, voice command, track movement and even dashboard info.
While on the right is for the cruise control, just take note that 60km/h is the minimum speed to activate this feature.
Remember that all controls is located on the center console as well, Mazda wants you to feel that even with your eyes closed or simply not looking, everything is intuitive and you can control the car.
Push to start engine button is pretty straight forward, standard that it’s based on the presence of the key will make it active and just step on the brake to turn the engine on.
The key is still the same, you have controls for the lock, unlock and trunk opening as standard. Anytime, we would prefer carrying a key like this as compared to a regular key.
The reverse parking display is also intuitive and real-time, we appreciated the small graph of the sensor showing colors for the level of proximity to the vehicle. From green, orange to red will indicate how close you are to probably obstacles.
Everything can be accessed through the center control panel or through the touchscreen directly. The entertainment system of Mazda is top notch, our pet peeve of having weak audio encoding isn’t a problem as the 6 watts speaker system delivers wide range of audio possible.
Pairing your device is easy with the Bluetooth controls but you can also use a USB device or even a CD just in case. In our experience, the entertainment console didn’t show up any lag or problems even with our phone paired. It was able to call out Siri for voice commands, answer calls in crystal clear output and even play high-quality music.
No Apple CarPlay or Android CarPlay in this vehicle, perhaps Mazda will consider in the future. But in our experience with the Apple CarPlay recently, we opted to get confused as its another layer of a menu on top of the manufacturer’s current menu. So, for now, with Mazda, we think it is a nice move that they opted to leave their system as is.
The 6 speaker system on the SkyActiv R isn’t yet the top line but it was already above average in our experience. It has good bass, wide high frequency and lets you feel the warmth of every note. Even Spotify’s 320kbps music is good enough to listen that you will feel a major difference.
That’s why we wonder how much more fun the 9 speaker system setup from Bose will feel like?
One minor thing we noticed is that the navigation system isn’t bundled as default, but who needs it when Waze or Google Maps now delivering much accurate navigation with traffic reports.
Cooling and Noise
The Mazda 3 2017 has a dual zone air conditioning system, its capable of controlling the temperature on the left and right side for a more personalized experience. In hot temperatures of summer, it’s nice that the dual aircon mode can be turned on for faster cool down of the vehicle.
Mostly on a sunny day, you’ll probably activate the dual aircon mode and at night will be just one. Overall, we liked this feature as it’s useful for certain occasions. Like when I got wet in the rain and didn’t like cold air on my side to avoid getting sick while my passengers enjoy their aircon.
Cabin noise isolation is above average, you’ll head a minor sound of the engine when revving up or idle but not to the point it’s annoying. The blockage of exterior noise is so great, we enjoy listening to the high-quality speakers more and didn’t require to pump up the volume.
The Mazda 3 2017 has standard Airbags for the driver and passenger, but the R model specifically has curtain airbags as additional. ABS with EBD also comes standard, along with dynamic stability control for better handling in unfortunate events.
Aside from those, sensors for rear parking is also present as standard. Plus, auto locking when departing is also present for keeping your cars locked at all times. Trust us that there are still some manufacturers who opted not to prioritize this, that’s why especially here in the Philippines…we applaud Mazda for thinking ahead.
As part of the SkyActiv innovation of Mazda, it has i-ELOOP which uses the stored battery power of a dedicated battery in idle cases. So the i-ELOOP kicks into power electronic devices when on stop lights and shut the engine to a bare minimum. In return, this lets you save precious fuel by letting excess battery be used in idle times.
In our experience with the Mazda 3 2017 SkyActive R 5DR, we were able to get an average mileage of 9.6km per litter in decent city driving. But when in times pushing the engine and revving up in sports mode, we went down to around 6km per litter.
We did try to behave as possible by letting the engine be economic, we got as far as 12.7km per liter on a city driving situation. So, we think as average a 9-10km per liter mileage isn’t bad at all considering its a 2.0-liter engine. In long drives, we think it can still replicate the 18km per liter mileage we got when we used the 2015 Mazda 3 HB to Baguio.
The moment we saw the 2017 Mazda 3 when it was turned over to us, we got puzzled of the major difference outside. To be honest, I hard to check again if I got the right car. But knowing Mazda they don’t remove anything that isn’t wrong, that’s why everything just felt even better.
Priced at Php1,268,000 the Mazda 3 SkyActiv R feels the right car for the well-fulfilled person. It’s not a family car image but more of your own personal trophy of what you achieved, honestly, it’s the right car to represent any hard-working person.
With all the advance technology of SkyActiv, G-Vectoring, Auto LED sensing and more, the Mazda 3 2017 has features even close priced rivals doesn’t have at all.
Just in case you thirst for more, you can go with the SPEED model for Php1,398,000 and go the extra mile with blind corner indicators, front parking sensors, 9 Bose speaker system and even more premium power seats.
Overall the Mazda 3 2017 brings out the geek in us with all of its technology, while keeping our attitude modest with its superior looks, incredible handling, and performance. That’s why we award the Mazda 3 2017 SkyActive R 5DR our highly recommended award.