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The best small car in Singapore? Mazda3 hatchback review 2023

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Mazda’s sleek-looking Mazda3 Hatchback Skyactiv-G1.5 punches above its weight for driving dynamics and its premium car feel.


  • Sleek styling
  • Lovely ergonomics
  • Plush interior
  • Refinement
  • Sporty dynamics
  • Excellent steering feel

Less good:

  • Firm ride at low speeds
  • Restricted rear ¾ vision
  • Limited hatchback capacity

What is the Singapore Mazda3?

The Mazda3 is the middle of Mazda’s attractive three-car sedan/hatch range in Singapore. Unlike its smaller Mazda2 and larger Mazda6 siblings, the 3 is available in either sedan or hatchback body styles, and while the sedan comes in three trim levels – Classic, Elegance, and Astina – the hatchback is only available in the highest, Astina, form.

This means the Mazda3 Hatchback is equipped with a leather interior, power seats, 360-degree camera view, keyless entry, LED headlamps, and a Bose sound system with 12 speakers, as well as a host of active safety features.

Power is provided by a clever 1.5-litre Skyactiv-G 16-valve inline-four engine, which features a much higher compression ratio than standard engines to extract more power from the fuel used and to burn it more efficiently and with lower emissions.

How does the Mazda3 drive?

The Mazda3 is one of the best small cars on the Singapore market for those who enjoy driving. The electrically assisted steering feels great, if a bit heavier than some others, and the chassis feels just right.

The 3 is equipped with Skyactiv-Vehicle Dynamics with G-Vectoring Control Plus – a long-winded description of a clever torque-vectoring system that is tuned for better body control while cornering.

The ride/handling bias is towards sporty driving, which means a firm ride, and at low speeds bumps can make themselves felt. The sedan version apparently has a slightly softer ride to suit American-style tastes.

Still, the Mazda3 driving dynamics are arguably the best in this vehicle class. The 1.5-litre engine likes to rev, but the performance is hardly electrifying. The 0-100km/h sprint is dispatched in a fairly leisurely 12.4 seconds, though the payoff is a frugal 5.5l/100km fuel economy figure for the combined cycle.

The engine’s power output is 120ps and is aided a little by the M-Hybrid system that adds an extra 6.8ps and 48.5Nm of torque when accelerating from standstill. Unlike a full hybrid, the system can’t drive the car in full electric mode.

The system uses a small starter generator attached to the engine to capture power that would be lost when braking, and also powers the car’s electrics.

What’s the interior like?

The interior features lots of plush feeling materials and has the feel of a much more premium car. The leather-clad steering wheel feels lovely, and the driving position and general ergonomics are excellent.

There’s an 8.8-inch centre display operated by a rotary ‘commander control’ on the centre console. There’s no touchscreen option, but there is connectivity for Apple or Android devices, though it’s not a wireless connection.

While the driver’s seat gets electric adjustment with memory function, the passenger makes do with manual adjustment. There’s enough space in the rear seats for two adults, though the entry is somewhat compromised by the chunky rear pillar design.

The view from the driver’s seat is also compromised by that pillar design.

In the rear the dark materials do make it feel somewhat enclosed though, and the hatchback storage isn’t as capacious as you’d expect.

Great savings on Mazda3 car insurance with Budget Direct Insurance.

Our comprehensive car insurance premium for the Mazda3 Hatchback Skyactiv-G 1.5 starts from just $450.52 for a driver with the profile of a 45 year-old married male, holding a valid driving licence for more than five years and with a 50% No Claim Discount. Premiums shown are indicative. Actual premiums may vary based on various factors.

Premiums are correct as at 31 May 2023.


Being Japanese, the Mazda3 is known for its reliability, with hardly any mechanical problems. The engines are also fuel-efficient, making it a good choice for Singapore’s hatchback buyers who are looking for a car that is both fun to drive and easy on the wallet.

Body-control and handling are excellent, and what the engine lacks in outright power it makes up for in responsiveness. The ride quality and quietness are generally excellent, though the suspension can feel a bit too firm over bumps at low speeds.

The plushness and ergonomics of the interior are arguably the best in the class, and the styling is the icing on the cake: the Mazda3 hatch is a very handsome-looking car.

Check out our Mazda3 car review here.

The video is produced by Chasing Cars, partner of our sister company Budget Direct Australia. Some features or options in the car build may not be applicable to the Singapore market (including the availability of car parts). Remember to check with your local dealer for details.

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