Theme: Japan – 2015 Mazda3 Fastback, 2.2L Diesel SportNav

In recognition of this month’s theme, I thought I would provide a short update on progress with my current car: it’s Japanese.

Mazda3 Fastback - brochure pic

I have now completed over 12,500 miles in the 3. It had its first service just over a week ago, which set me back just a little under £200, most of which went on labour (the going hourly rate is high around here), oil and filters. The car had an engine software upgrade, which apparently was part of a recall that never found its way to my post-box. This was described as a “rough idle recall”, which was not a problem that I ever noticed. It does seem to have improved the fuel economy of the car (the last two tanks-full have averaged just over 60 MPG – up from about 57).

It’s amazing what the power of the media can do, because I could not prevent my mind from thinking “I wonder if it’s either Mazda’s equivalent of the VW diesel cheat device, or over-writing the cheat device that would have been installed in the first place?”. Surely a Japanese maker would have too much honour to stoop so low? Anyhow – the service was well executed, the car came back to me in a couple of hours washed and vac’d, and the people in the very local dealership could not have been more professional or more friendly.

The miles have not piled on quite as quickly as normal due to the continued presence of the C6 (perhaps the most decadent thing I have ever done is keeping that car) and, moreover, the 4 month lay-off the 3 had due to my ruptured Achilles. So, when I returned to it (slightly earlier than expected, due to C6 troubles), it was a bit like having a new car again, and it was a delight to be re-acquainted with its really well sorted driving experience. The gear change just gets better and is a pure joy, especially as its weighting is so in sync with that of the clutch, accelerator and steering. Given this is merely a mid-sized, hatch-based-saloon, it never ceases to

Lots of copies of Autocar: source
Lots of copies of Autocar: source

impress me that the engineers and developers of the 3 took so much care about such things. Together with a super-torquey, refined and responsive engine, it’s a very pleasurable driving experience. Autocar ran a comparison test recently with a Focus, Astra and Leon and probably should not have bothered including the 3 in the article, given how casually dismissive of it they were (an impression not helped by calling it a 2 a number of times across the pages); not that it annoyed me at all …. If Mazda could just improve the road noise, they could take this car up another level and remove the only driving-related caveat of the car that I have (i.e. not including the rear-seat ambiance).

The 3 has been 100% reliable – there is literally nothing to report in terms of anything going wrong or falling off – which is a nice change. I have noticed that the paint seems to chip and scratch a bit easily (the C6 is remarkably resilient on that front) and the body panels, which feel light – if the doors are anything to go by – ding and dent quite easily too. Oh, and I lightly curbed the front, near side alloy in Milton Keynes Central’s anti-car park – why do they put those ridiculously tall and narrow curbs at entrances, exits and the up/ down ramps?

As you can tell, I remain happy with the car (if not Meteor Parking). Long may it continue.

Author: S.V. Robinson

Life long interest in cars and the industry

11 thoughts on “Theme: Japan – 2015 Mazda3 Fastback, 2.2L Diesel SportNav”

  1. Couldn’t agree more about those high kerbs entering and exiting carparks. They seem a little less popular recently but I reckon they are there in the (often reasonable) assumption that many drivers’ navigation skills are so poor that they need to be corralled in the right direction.

    1. Those are baffling – they are themselves a hazard to the car. They point to the building being too small for a wide-enough track.
      The contrast between the car review and SV’s impressions caught my attention. I’d have thought the 3 at least the equal of those cars.

    2. I’ve gone so far as to write the magazine a response, but they won’t publish it (have you read their letters page …?). There are areas of obvious inferiority about the 3 that could have been mentioned, but no. Coincidentally, the winner is often to be seen advertised on the back cover of this weekly publication of which I still admire the thoroughness of the Road Tests.

    3. For those interested, Autocar has now helpfully published the article in question on their website.

  2. Is modern-day Mazda shaping up to join the very small group of “thinking man’s cars”?

    Which I should probably re-state as “thinker’s cars”, to avoid being sent on diversity training.

    1. They’re producing properly desirable cars at the moment, I agree. I also happen to like the colour of the 3 seen in the photo – would that be your actual choice of colour, too, Steven?

    2. Hello Kris, yes that’s “Titanium Flash Mica”, which was my choice. In real life, it’s one of those light brown shades of grey that alters according to the ambient light. I like it, even if it does chip a little too easily, but I have to say that the car probably does look its best in that delicious Soul Red which seems to be most people’s preferred choice. Also note how that publicity photo, which features in the brochure, does without a number plate, which actually fits within the grille, somewhat cluttering the appearance. I’d have loved them to have placed it in an offset position – a la Alfa- or found room underneath the grille, which is where the plate is to be found on the 6.

  3. Hmm. I must have missed something, S. V. It is a new car, or rather was 12,500 miles ago, isn’t it?

    I’m used to owners of Mercedes and such boasting about reliability after their cars have done the first 12,500 miles without unscheduled maintenance. Shouldn’t owners of modern Japanese cars expect much more mileage than that before the troubles begin?

    1. Hello Fred, yes, it was bought pre-registered and so it should not be a surprise or achievement that it has been reliable; you are 100% correct. That said, as someone else here pointed out, I’ve had a number of new cars in my time and I’d say half have had a problem in year 1. Also, I can think of numerous LTTs in car magazines where cars have had faults within 6-12 months.

      Finally, my principal point of reference, unfair though it be, is my 7 year old, 105k mile C6, which cannot go 2,000 miles without having some form of failure, bless and love it!

    2. I know of electronic gremlin-infested V12 BMWs and tinny Porsche 996s that have caused their owner at least as much anguish as my Jag. And yet owners of either German car would ever be asked whether they’re also in possession of a second example of their motor (’cause one Jag’s always getting some work done at the garage – broo-ha-ha!). Quality and dependability are relative, it seems.

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