Mazda is the top selling brand of cars in Australia to private buyers, but I had never driven them. The Mazda3 is a very popular car so I was very keen to give it a test for BabyDrive! I drove the hatch, a compact little car which for its price is actually very good, and there is also a sedan version. At first glance, I thought the boot's tiny but actually it fitted 11 shopping bags and the all three of the Mountain Buggy strollers fitted with fair amounts of shopping bags around them!
I did have to take the rear wheels off the Duet twin stroller but it fitted in which was surprising!
Storage inside the cabin was minimal but on the whole, it was very practical and fit for purpose. The two cup holders in the central console were a little big for a disposable or reusable coffee cups but held a large refillable water bottle nicely. The door pockets throughout the car were well-sized for large refillable water bottles and the glove box was big enough to house the manual as well as my wallet and iPad.
There is no sunglasses case in the ceiling so the well in front of the gear lever was home to those. I found this was the best spot for my phone as the two USB sockets are there too. The central console storage box is a good size with a felt lining and a tray in the top that is also good for keeping phones out of sight!
In the back, storage is very minimal with just one map pocket that would hold an iPad (but not conceal it) and the good-sized door bins.
The space inside the car is cramped and legroom was a serious problem for us as a family when we only had one forward-facing child seat installed! When my husband, who is 184cm, sat in front of our daughter this was her situation…
With rear-facing child seats installed in the two outer positions, I found I could sit in the driver's seat but I am only 164cm, and anyone taller would really have trouble!!
There are two ISO Fix in the two outer seats. They are white bars between the seat base and back, and although they are not within plastic guides but their white colour made them really easy to find which was great!
The top tethers are across all three rear seat backs and are easily accessible through the boot. They are not labelled but they are easy to connect to.
I managed to instal two rear-facing child seats, the Britax Unity infant capsule and the Britax Graphene, in the two outer seats. The rear seat base is quite shaped and I found this prevented me from fitting a third forward-facing seat in the middle of them.
I did find, however, that if I only installed the Britax Unity infant capsule rear-facing, I could fit two forward-facing child seats alongside it (the Britax Kid Guard Pro and Maxi Guard Pro)!
The Mazda3 was not a particularly noisy car, and the parking sensors could be turned off on the media touch screen. The media system does not have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and the system does seem a little outdated and difficult to navigate. The image quality is low resolution and I found it a lengthy process to connect my phone to it and get it to start playing Tulsi's nursery rhymes too!
The Mazda i-stop is a fantastic BabyDrive feature allowing you to turn off the auto engine cut out until you turn it back on again. It remembers your setting the next time you drive! I love this feature because it stops you forgetting to turn it off each journey and then only realising when you come to traffic lights and ‘waaah’ bub's crying because the vibrations of the car have stopped!!
The Mazda3 was a pleasant car to drive, and for its price it is definitely nimble around town and fun to drive on the open roads. It was the base model that I tested, so the seat coverings and aesthetics were not particularly luxurious but for a car of this price, you can't expect it. I did find the seats incredibly uncomfortable and in two weeks could not wait to not have to sit in the uncomfortable driving position any longer!
The Mazda3 was given a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2016 and comes with six airbags as standard.