The Garage – Mazda 3 Neo Manual Hatch – EFTM

The Garage – Mazda 3 Neo Manual Hatch

Shortly after its launch EFTM drove most of the Mazda 3 range but with one glaring omission, the base Mazda 3 Neo. Originally the Neo was forecast to be...

Shortly after its launch EFTM drove most of the Mazda 3 range but with one glaring omission, the base Mazda 3 Neo. Originally the Neo was forecast to be the major seller within the range, but unexpectedly higher spec models have accounted for 80 percent of sales. As of September 2014 just 20 percent of the 29,069 Mazda 3’s sold were the Neo. So why the shortfall? We cast the spotlight this week over the absolute base mode, the Mazda 3 Neo manual hatch.

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Make: Mazda

Model: 3

Variant: Neo Hatch

Engine / Transmission: SKYACTIV-G 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, 6-speed manual

Vital Stats: [email protected],000 / 200Nm @4000rpm

Mazda Claimed Fuel Economy: 5.9l / 100km

EFTM Claimed Fuel Economy: 6.3l / 100km

Manufactures List Price (MLP): From $20,490

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Wow Factor: Despite many of the best bits being trimmed away the Mazda 3 Neo still exudes style. Cabin design and function remains first class and would arguably be best in class, particularly among the non-European bunch. Mazda’s SKYACVTIV suite of fuel saving measures work well, the Mazda 3 offers decent fuel economy without even trying.

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Most Impressive: This is an easy to operate, free revving manual. The 2.0-litre petrol engine is spritely enough and it’s nice to know bolting on a turbo isn’t always necessary to extract usable, effective performance. It’s a fun drivetrain aided and abetted by a snappy manual.

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Least Impressive: Sadly Mazda’s MZD Connect system and the accompanying 7-inch colour monitor don’t make the cut for Neo models. In its place sits an alternate pod-like display featuring an old school dot matrix style readout. It sticks out like a boil and is the most jarring part of an otherwise well assembled, inoffensive interior. The Mazda 3’s handling is a little ponderous compared to some of the opposition, there are occasional instances when the driver, chassis and suspension combo fail to communicate effectively. This leads to brief, uncomfortable moments as you try to get a feel for how the car wants to balance itself through a corner, or how it will react to doses of heavy braking.

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Early Verdict: The Mazda 3 Neo manual hatch may well be the cheapest in the pack, but if you cross the showroom and come across the next model up which is the Maxx, I’ll doubt you’ll backtrack.

 

 

Categories
Motoring

Chris works at Australia's leading radio station 2GB. He's worked on three radio Olympic games broadcasts, attending Beijing 2008 & London 2012. Deep down Chris harbours ambitions to one day sit behind the microphone himself. Aside from radio his other great passion is the motor car. Strangely he owns a Toyota Camry Hybrid, he defiantly rejects the knockers. Chris is married to Gillian and resides in Sydney's North West. They have Sam the English Springer Spaniel and Felix the Burmese cat to keep them company.
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