The sprawling Mazda 3 range gained yet another model at the start of 2022.
Along with the 2.0-litre G20, the 2.5-litre G25, and the clever 2.0-litre X20 engines, the hatchback and sedan range gained the 2.0-litre G20e mild-hybrid from the MX-30.
That sounds like alphabet soup, but it means there are now four engines on offer in the Mazda 3, and one of them now packs mild-hybrid tech designed to smooth out start/stop and provide a power boost when you put your foot down.
It’s unique among its rivals, none of which have the same technology on board.
That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the engine to have in the Mazda 3 range, though.
It doesn’t have any more power than the base engine, although it offers a fuel economy improvement in the real world. It’s one of the mildest mild-hybrid systems out there, so it doesn’t really stand out as a technology flagship.
It’s enough to make your wonder what the point is. That’s what we’re trying to find out.
We weren’t lying when we said the Mazda 3 had a huge range, and the G20e Evolve M Hybrid sits close to the middle of it. It’s the only G20e variant in the range.
You can save $350 by opting for a sportier Evolve SP with a more powerful (but less economical) G25 engine within the Mazda 3 range, or $2250 by opting for the simpler 2.0-litre G20 Evolve with the Vision Technology package.
There are plenty of rivals out there. The Volkswagen Golf range kicks off at $35,290 before on-roads in Australia, while the Hyundai i30 Hatch N Line is priced from $31,720 before on-roads. Kia will sell you a Cerato Sport+ for $31,140 before on-road costs.
Unlike some rivals, Mazda doesn’t have different price structures for the 3 Hatch and 3 Sedan. Both body styles offer the same trim levels, transmission options and are priced identically.
2022 Mazda 3 pricing:
- Mazda 3 G20 Pure manual: $26,340
- Mazda 3 G20 Pure auto: $27,340
- Mazda 3 G20 Evolve manual: $27,890
- Mazda 3 G20 Evolve auto: $28,890
- Mazda 3 G20 Touring manual: $30,390
- Mazda 3 G25 Evolve SP manual: $31,290
- Mazda 3 G20 Touring auto: $31,390
- Mazda 3 G25 Evolve SP auto: $32,290
- Mazda 3 G20e Evolve M Hybrid auto: $32,640
- Mazda 3 G25 GT manual: $34,990
- Mazda 3 G25 GT auto: $35,990
- Mazda 3 G25 Astina manual: $38,490
- Mazda 3 G25 Astina auto: $39,490
- Mazda 3 X20 Astina M Hybrid auto: $42,490
All prices exclude on-road costs.
Mazda 3 G20 Pure highlights:
- 16-inch alloy wheels
- 8.8-inch infotainment screen
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wired)
- Satellite navigation
- DAB+ digital radio
- Head-up display
- LED head- and tail-lights
- Automatic headlights
- Automatic high beam
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter
- Electric parking brake
- Eight-speaker sound system
- Push-button start
- Power-folding exterior mirrors
- Electric windows
- Rain-sensing wipers
- 60/40 split-fold rear seat
- Air conditioning
- Tilt-and-telescoping steering column
- Tyre pressure monitoring
Mazda 3 G20 Evolve adds:
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Dual-zone climate control
- Rear air vents vents
- Paddle shifters (auto)
- Auto-dimming rear view mirror
- Rear seat armrest
Mazda 3 G20e Evolve gains:
- Vision Technology Package
- Keyless entry
- 10-way power driver’s seat with memory
- Auto-dimming driver’s mirror
- Exterior mirrors with memory and reverse tilt-down function
The Mazda 3 has a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on 2019 testing by Euro NCAP.
It scored 98 per cent in adult occupant protection, 89 per cent in child occupant protection, 81 per cent in vulnerable road user protection, and 76 per cent in safety assist.
All Mazda 3 models come standard with:
- Autonomous emergency braking (forward and reverse)
- Lane-keep assist
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Traffic sign recognition
- Reversing camera
- Rear parking sensors
- Front, front-side, curtain driver’s knee airbags
Mazda 3 G25 GT models and up gain driver attention monitoring, front cross-traffic alert, and front parking sensors.
The available $1500 Vision Technology Package (auto G20, G25 variants) adds:
- Surround-view camera
- Cruising and Traffic Support
- Front parking sensors
- Driver attention monitoring
This equipment is standard on G20e models like our tester, along with the Astina.
We’ve thought the interior of the latest Mazda 3 is impressive since launch, and the Evolve on test here does nothing to change that opinion.
Even without leather seats and flashy detailing it’s interesting to look at and lovely to touch, in a way none of its rivals can match.
The driver and passenger sit low, in supportive cloth-trimmed seats with electric adjustment, and the driver is faced with a lovely leather-trimmed steering wheel. The driving position is accommodating for all shapes and sizes, although there’s no seating position that can improve the poor over-the-shoulder visibility.
It sounds silly, but there’s something novel about having so many buttons and dials to play with. Want to change the temperature? There are dials for that, no silly touch controls.
The gear selector is conventional, the 7.0-inch digital digital instrument dial doesn’t overwhelm you with information, and the infotainment system can be controlled using buttons surrounding the rotary controller on the transmission tunnel.
Mazda’s latest infotainment system (called Mazda Connect) is a big step forward from its old MZD setup, with quick responses and handsome graphics on its widescreen 8.8-inch display.
It’s easy to use on the move – but it’s not a touchscreen, which means it’s not the most intuitive system on which to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Most brands with dials to control their entertainment systems now have a touchscreen as well, because it works better when you’re using CarPlay with its big, colourful icons.
There’s no shortage of storage up front, from the door bins to the transmission tunnel with its cupholders and phone/wallet-sized space beneath the dash. The sliding/folding centre console bin cover is too clever by half though, and it’s time for Mazda to start including USB-C ports in place of the USB-A ports that currently feature.
Rear seat space is a weak spot for the latest Mazda 3. Legroom is tight back there, headroom is limited by the helmet-shaped roof line, and the massive C-pillar means there isn’t all that much light back there for carsickness-prone kids.
The inclusion of air vents is a win, the lack of USB connectivity is a loss. There are ISOFIX points on the outboard rear seats, and three top tether mounts for child seats.
Claimed boot space is 295 litres with the rear seats in place, and there’s a space saver spare wheel beneath the floor.
If practicality is high on your list of priorities, Mazda would point you towards the CX-30 SUV with which the 3 shares its engines and chassis.
The G20e powertrain is new to the Mazda 3 for 2022, having debuted locally in the quirky MX-30 SUV.
It combines a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre petrol engine, hooked up to a 24V mild-hybrid system designed to offer smoother a start/stop experience in the city.
Peak power is a claimed 114kW, and peak torque is 200Nm. The only transmission on offer is a six-speed automatic, and the Mazda 3 is front-wheel drive only in Australia.
Claimed fuel economy is 6.0 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, and the car drinks 91 RON regular unleaded. We saw 6.6 litres per 100km on a cycle skewed slightly to highway driving.
It’s not a powerhouse, that’s for sure.
Although it tips the scales at a relatively lithe 1361kg, the G20e M Hybrid is light on for power and torque, and the 24V mild-hybrid system doesn’t do anything to aid performance.
Unlike the systems on offer in (more expensive) European cars, it can’t provide a jolt of torque to get the car moving at low speeds. There’s no turbocharger to drive here, nor an electric motor that can be used to deliver drive to the wheels directly like a Toyota Corolla Hybrid.
Instead, the 24V system on hand to allow the idle start/stop system to activate at around 20km/h to save fuel. It also powers ancillaries like the infotainment and air-conditioning, both of which hurt fuel economy by constantly drawing small amounts of power from the engine.
The result is a vehicle the offers the same slightly strained performance as the G20. It has adequate punch to get you moving, but it really needs to be worked hard to make anything more than slow progress.
It’s relatively smooth and quiet when you aren’t in a hurry, shuffling through the gears without ever really making its presence felt, but when you lean on the accelerator harder it needs to go chasing the redline. That goes some way to undermining the refinement, and is broadly in keeping with our experience of the cheaper Mazda 3 G20.
The trade-off for that middling performance is a driving experience that will feel familiar to anyone hopping out of an older Mazda.
With no dual-clutch transmission to make things jerky at low speeds, the Mazda 3 feels overwhelmingly conventional in traffic, and the lack of a turbocharged shove in the back means throttle response is linear. The start/stop system is smoother than the regular i-Stop setup from non-M Hybrid models, too, thanks to the 24V MHEV smarts.
The rest of the driving experience in the Mazda 3 is excellent. At city speeds it does an excellent job smoothing out potholes and speed bumps, and the linear steering makes it an easy car to thread through city streets.
Despite wearing 18-inch alloy wheels, the Evolve doesn’t feel particularly busy over pimply roads either.
The blind-spot monitor and surround-view cameras do a good job covering for the significant blind-spot, but they can’t entirely make up for it. Visibility has been sacrificed at the altar of style here, which does make it tricky to, say, merge from a slip lane when you need to look over your shoulder.
At highway speeds, the thing that stands about the Mazda 3 is refinement. It’s impressively hushed, even on average Australian country roads, and the engine settles down nicely at a cruise. Hills, overtakes, or changing speed limits necessitate a downshift or two though, which does undermine the sense of calm in the cabin.
Mazda’s driver assist systems are smartly calibrated. The adaptive cruise control system keeps a consistent gap to the car in front, and the lane-keep assist will push you back if you drift too close to the white lines without getting too hands on.
The Cruising and Traffic Support system standard on the G20e Evolve (and part of the optional Vision Technology Package on other models) adds active lane centring for semi-autonomous highway driving, too.
Points also go to Mazda for making sure its cruise control doesn’t allow the speedo to creep a few km/h over the set speed, which means you’re less likely to wake up to a speeding fine in your letterbox.
In addition to a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, Mazda offers five years of capped-price servicing.
The G20e requires servicing every 12 months or 10,000km – whichever comes first.
Using the capped-price service schedule the first five years of maintenance will set you back a combined $1670.
Mazda is doing what most manufacturers won’t and offering plenty of choice with the 3 range, but the G20e M Hybrid slots into a niche that didn’t necessarily need filling.
The engine in the G20e M Hybrid offers no performance increase over the base engine. It’d be worth a look if the price gap was smaller, but it’s $2250 more expensive than the base 2.0-litre engine in a Vision Package-equipped Evolve.
That’s too steep an impost given the minimal fuel economy improvements on offer, when Toyota charges just $2000 for more a hybrid Corolla than the base petrol.
The Mazda 3 is a great little car, with a class-leading interior and the same lively dynamics we’ve always loved about it, but we’d still be speccing ours with the more powerful 2.5-litre engine option.
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