There was a time when the Mazda 3 regularly traded blows with the Toyota Corolla for sales domination in Australia, but it now finds itself fighting on three fronts, with trade utes and SUVs joining the fray.
So Mazda has launched its latest salvo to keep its popular small hatch and sedan combo in the top four here, with equipment upgrades at the lower end of the range and sharp driveway pricing, which should see it through until an all-new model arrives next year.
The upgrades start with the cheapest Mazda 3, the Neo, which is renamed the Neo Sport and finally gains a floating touchscreen screen with Mazda’s MZD Connect infotainment system, reversing camera, digital radio and two extra speakers.
The big-selling Maxx also has “Sport” added to its badge, and gets rain-sensing windscreen wipers, dusk-sensing headlights, dual-zone climate control and an electric parking brake.
Driveway prices for the Neo Sport and Maxx Sport are just $1000 and $600 above the manufacturer’s retail price respectively, even with the additional kit.
Meanwhile, the Mazda3 Touring’s driveway price is only $200 more than retail. It gains advanced keyless entry, adding to premium features including leather trim and powered, auto-folding door mirrors.
The additions make the Mazda 3 Neo Sport, which comes standard with automatic emergency braking, more than just a low price point to bring buyers to the showroom, and reinforces the second-up Maxx Sport as the pick of the bunch in terms of value and equipment.
Despite their new names, the Neo Sport and Maxx Sport gain nothing by way of performance from the 2.0 litre SKYACTIV-G petrol engine shared with the Touring.
The 2.5-litre SKYACTIV-G-powered SP25, SP25 GT and SP25 Astina variants don’t add to their already extensive features lists, but also benefit from little or no driveaway costs.
All Mazda 3 variants come with a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed automatic transmission.
2018 Mazda 3 hatchback and sedan retail/driveway pricing
- Mazda 3 Neo Sport man - $20,490/$21,490
- Mazda 3 Neo Sport auto - $22,490/$23,490
- Mazda 3 Maxx Sport man - $22,890/$23,490
- Mazda 3 Maxx Sport auto - $24,890/$25,890
- Mazda 3 Touring man - $25,290/$25,490
- Mazda 3 Touring auto - $27,290/$27,490
- Mazda 3 SP25 man - $25,690/$25,990
- Mazda 3 SP25 auto - $27,690/$27,990
- Mazda 3 SP25 GT man - $29,990/$29,990
- Mazda 3 SP25 GT auto - $31,990/$31,990
- Mazda 3 SP25 Astina man - $33,490/$33,490
- Mazda SP25 Astina auto - $35,490/$35,490