Sedans still pack a solid punch where you need it, and the 2022 Mazda 3 G25 is a fine example of the breed.





What we love
  • A much larger boot than the hatchback equivalent
  • Classy, quality interior
  • Smooth performance from the 2.5-litre engine

What we don’t
  • Touchscreen infotainment would be an improvement
  • Not the most efficient option out there
  • … it’s not an SUV?

Introduction

Before jumping into this 2022 Mazda 3 G25 Evolve SP, a classic example of the good old-fashioned sedan, I had been between a variety of SUVs and hatchbacks for reviewing. This is important to cover off, because I think recent automotive experiences can go a long way to colour the way you approach – and ultimately appraise – whatever you might find yourself driving.

Sedans like this one are something of a dwindling commodity. They’re not a rarity just yet, but they’re certainly less common of an occurrence than they once were. And that is a shame, because they seem to be as good as ever.

This particular Mazda 3 – a G25 Evolve SP – sits approximately in the middle of an expansive model range. Said range has the Mazda 3 G20 Pure manual as the starting point at $26,340, and runs up to the automatic X20 Astina hatch (with the trick Spark Controlled Compression Ignition engine) for $42,490 – both before on-road costs.



We’re close to the middle here, with an asking price starting from $31,290 plus on-road costs for the G25 Evolve SP. Throw in the six-speed automatic transmission and optional Polymetal Grey metallic paint, and we’re looking at $32,785 plus on-road costs.

The Mazda 3 is available as a hatch or sedan, and buyers have the choice of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission right across the range, except for the auto-only X20 Astina. And among all of those different specification grades, there is a variety of four-cylinder petrol engines to choose from.

Our Mazda 3 G25 Evolve SP is the cheapest variant that has the larger and most powerful 2.5-litre engine, which makes a respectable 139kW and 252Nm, and allows this variant of the Mazda 3 to sneak into the triple digits of a power-to-weight ratio (101kW/t).



And sitting in the middle of the range, Evolve specification includes a smart mix of standard equipment that would appeal to many buyers. Building on the 2.0-litre Evolve, our specification not only adds a larger engine, but also throws in a bit of a black-pack treatment, with the 18-inch wheels, grille insert and exterior mirrors going dark.

Key details 2022 Mazda 3 G25 SP
Price (MSRP) $31,290 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Polymetal Grey Metallic
Options Premium paint – $495
Six-speed automatic – $1000
Price as tested $32,785 plus on-road costs
$36,667 drive-away (Sydney)
Rivals Hyundai i30 | Kia Cerato | Toyota Corolla

The interior of the Mazda 3 is fitted out with a pleasing mix of materials: quality hard plastics, faux leather, cloth, soft and cushy spots for your elbows. It’s very nicely done overall, and is enough to break up the blacked-out presentation.

There are plenty of soft-touch materials atop the dashboard, and exposed stitching as well. For a mid-spec small sedan at this asking price, it feels good. Climate controls on the dashboard are small but concise and effective. There are buttons and dials for easy operation, but they don’t dominate the dashboard.



There’s a fair dose of piano black around the gearshifter, which can be a little bit of a backwards step. It’s like the interior version of a glossy black car. It looks great when it’s clean and unblemished, but doesn’t stay that way for long.

Smudges and dust quickly show up after daily usage, and worse things like scratches and grazes can also be easily inflicted. Considering this is located around the gearshifter, one would want to be careful of jewellery and watches doing damage.

The seats in this grade stick with cloth covering, but gain contrast stitching and 10-way electric adjustment with two-position memory, and proved to be comfortable for everyday useage. There’s the right amount of bolstering here – not too much – to suit the application well. Combine the tilt and reach adjustment through the steering column, and you can find an ergonomically pleasing position to drive.

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Between front occupants is a slightly built-up centre console, with lidded storage at the front and two cupholders further back. The centre console bin is well-sized and houses twin USB points and a single 12-volt outlet. 

The second row isn’t huge – this is a small car after all – but is big enough for adults to squeeze in comfortably. There are air vents back here, along with ISOFIX and top tether points. The seat backs are soft and scalloped to help make the most of the legroom on offer, and we found it big enough to get kids (and their forward-facing seats) in without any drama.

When I set myself up behind my own driving position, there was legroom left over. Although it’s worth pointing out that I sit relatively close to the steering wheel.

The boot of the Mazda 3 sedan – 444L worth according to the manufacturer – is big. It’s 149L bigger than the hatchback version, and is perhaps the biggest advantage the sedan has in overall packaging. There is a little bit of a lip to overcome, but the second row can be dropped down for additional storage when needed.

2022 Mazda 3 G25 SP
Seats Five
Boot volume 444L
Length 4660mm
Width 1795mm
Height 1440mm
Wheelbase 2725mm

Infotainment and Connectivity

Mazda’s 8.8-inch infotainment display – the same size and operating system across the Mazda 3 range – eschews the typical touchscreen set-up favoured by many, and instead uses a rotary dial behind the gearshifter. It’s mostly a case of twisting the dial around to get what you need, along with the odd joystick-like flick and prod. And, overall, I found it to be a hit-and-miss affair.

It’s better than the remote touchpad you’ll find on a Lexus, for example, but I still feel that a touchscreen is the best way to go, even if just to speed up inputs like addresses when stopped.



A touchscreen probably wouldn’t work in this case, because the display itself is recessed away from the reach of a prodding finger. So your only choice is that rotary dial, which – truth be told – isn’t too bad.

It’s a tactile experience feeling the dial thud through its rotations. However, you still need to take your eyes off the road and your hand off the steering wheel when you’re doing your thing, so any improvement in safety is a tricky one to quantify.

The instrument binnacle has a digital readout within the big central speedometer, which gives you the usual trip computer stuff. This specification also gets a head-up-display, with a simple readout that’s not over the top or too intrusive for general driving. Sometimes they can be.

Safety and Technology

A five-star ANCAP safety rating comes from a relatively recent test in 2019, when this generation Mazda 3 came to Australian showrooms. Individual ratings for adult and child occupants are impressively high, with 98 per cent and 89 per cent awarded respectively.

Importantly, the Mazda 3 comes with autonomous emergency braking across the board, which operates between 4km/h and 80km/h. There is also blind-spot monitoring, a reversing camera, driver attention alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assistance, rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, tyre pressure monitoring and traffic sign recognition.

There are also automatic high beams and rain-sensing wipers, along with keyless entry and push-button start.



Buyers can opt for a $1500 Vision Technology pack, which includes a 360-degree reversing camera, Cruising and Traffic Support in the adaptive cruise control, driver monitoring, front cross-traffic alert and front parking sensors.

Value for Money

In terms of the broader Mazda 3 range, this G25 Evolve does feel like a little bit of a sweet spot. Provided, that is, you’re happy to stick with cloth over things like leather. And if you want a little bit of extra technology, the $1500 Vision Technology pack seems to be reasonable value.

While the best value in the segment might lie elsewhere – in options like the Kia Cerato or Subaru Impreza – the Mazda 3 does present like something of a semi-premium option in terms of the interior, features and general presentation.

One of the newest and smartest kids on the block would be the Hyundai i30 Sedan, which can be had in the sporty N Line guise (with a 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged motor) for similar money. And, of course, those wanting the most efficient option will likely be looking at the excellent Toyota Corolla Hybrid, which is similarly priced in mid-spec SX form.

At a glance 2022 Mazda 3 G25 SP
Warranty Five years / unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 10,000km
Servicing costs $1169 (3 years), $2032 (5 years)

Fuel economy isn’t the strong suit of this Mazda 3, which has the largest engine in the segment. It uses a little extra fuel in comparison to the 2.0-litre engine, but the extra punch and torque could be worth it to many buyers. While the claim of 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres might be possible, we weren’t able to get close. Instead, we used 8.5L/100km.

Servicing costs are reasonable, feeling neither cheap nor expensive for the vehicle. After five years – at which point your unlimited-kilometre warranty will expire – you will have spent $2032 on maintenance.



That averages to just over $400 per year, but that number could be higher for buyers who cover more than the 10,000km interval inside of 12 months.

Fuel Useage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 6.5L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 8.5L/100km
Fuel type 91-octane unleaded
Fuel tank size 51L

Extra cubic capacity under the bonnet is rarely a bad thing, and that seems to be especially the case here. Having the shove of a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine improves the general refinement and character of the Mazda 3, which is an important element to consider for commuters. Although, visits to your local petrol station might be a little more frequent.

It’s not hot, and doesn’t really even have any warmth of something like a sporty model, but the performance – handling and straight line – is still satisfying. For those who enjoy the act of driving and the connection between human and machine, you will get some joy from this Mazda 3.

Standing starts rip through first gear quite smartly, it makes a little bit of noise, and gets to highway speeds without any drama. There are no crackles or burbles, but there is enough for an approximate 0–100km/h dash of around eight seconds.

If you want a nice commuter car that offers a little bit more than your average four-cylinder petrol engine, then this might suit your needs nicely.

Steering is eagerly tuned, sharp-feeling, with little off-centre dullness. It plays to the strengths of the car, and suits its overall nature. Thankfully, it’s not so overbearing as to ruin the experience, but leans more towards dynamic and engaged driving instead of the ultimate in disconnected ease.



The ride quality is the same: well-sorted, with an edge of firmness and intent. Its roadholding abilities are certainly engaging, with a responsive driving demeanour. But, once again, it’s comfortable and compliant enough for daily usage. We noticed a little bit of road noise on the highway, but bump absorption is well sorted.

Mazda has stuck to a six-speed torque converter auto for the Mazda 3 range, which is a fine gearbox. Six ratios used to be the gold standard. It perhaps sounds less impressive in the face of continuously variable and dual-clutch set-ups with higher ratio counts, but the truth is that this gearbox is perfectly fine. There is predictable and smart shifting with a smooth nature.

Key details 2022 Mazda 3 G25 SP
Engine 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power 139kW @ 6000rpm
Torque 252Nm @ 4000rpm
Drive type Front-wheel drive
Transmission Six-speed torque convertor automatic
Power to weight ratio 101kW/t
Weight (kerb) 1376kg
Tow rating 1200kg braked, 600kg unbraked
Turning circle 10.6m

Conclusion

It’s hard not to like this little sedan, which proved to be an enjoyable place to spend hours of my life.

After getting out of it, my mind was quickly flogging a well-dead horse: the main thing wrong with this car is that it’s not an SUV. While many love the idea of a high-riding small car with a raised seating position and some exterior cladding, they are overlooking something that could be better.

A small sedan or hatch, much like any similarly sized small SUV, is absolutely fit for purpose, well-dialled, and honed in its craft of providing comfort, practicality and enjoyment.

The Mazda 3’s interior, ride quality and driving dynamics are the main strengths here, all wrapped up in a classic and practical sedan-shaped package.



This mid-spec Mazda 3 G25 Evolve SP – with the slightly larger engine – doesn’t blow the budget as hard as other options out there, and could be a sweet spot for all of the important factors: performance with a premium touch, comfort and practicality.

Ratings Breakdown

2022 Mazda 3 G25 Evolve SP Sedan

8.0/ 10

Performance

Handling & Dynamics

Driver Technology

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

Fuel Efficiency

Value for Money

Fit for Purpose

Sam Purcell

Sam Purcell has been writing about cars, four-wheel driving and camping since 2013, and obsessed with anything that goes brum-brum longer than he can remember. Sam joined the team at CarAdvice/Drive as the off-road Editor in 2018, after cutting his teeth at Unsealed 4X4 and Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures.

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