2020 Mazda 3 100th anniversary review

Mazda’s well-received hatchback gets visual updates for a special edition inspired by the Mazda R360.

Alongside the 100th Anniversary MX-5 and CX-30, the Mazda 3 special edition becomes the halo of the hatchback’s line-up, building on the top-of-the-range trim and adding some snazzy design tweaks as a nod to that 1960 R360 Coupe.

The model, of which only 80 are available in Australia – 25 sedans and 55 hatchbacks – receives white pearlescent paint with burgundy interior carpet and leather seats, as well as a 100th Anniversary badge on the floor mats, key fob and embossed headrests. Outside, the same badge is in the centre of the wheels and on the side of the car.

Beyond those features, this is the same 3 mechanically as you’ll find across the line-up. It uses the Skyactiv-G engine producing 139kW at 6000rpm and 252Nm at 4000rpm through a six-speed auto to the front wheels.

The engine is no different than in other G25 Mazda 3s, producing a linear, steady power curve that’s strong but not particularly perky. Despite that, the rest of the 3 package makes it one of the keenest driver’s cars in the hatchback segment, probably outsmarted by only the Ford Focus. Satisfyingly precise steering and more than respectable cornering technique make this car enjoyable behind the wheel on every kind of route. That dynamic appeal inevitably compromises ride comfort – but, although firm, it has far better body control than many of its rivals.

Mazda’s interiors are a world apart from recent generations and are now pushing towards German premium levels while remaining distinctly Japanese in their feel. Joyfully, the rotary dial remains here for infotainment controls while others are controversially phasing them out in favour of touchscreens. The infotainment system, displayed on an 8.8i-inch screen (with Apple Carplay/Android Auto), is responsive and simple to use. There’s also a well-positioned head-up display.

The 3’s stylish ways suit the colour choices of this 100th Anniversary edition, with the burgundy palette helping you feel ensconced in this comfortable, well-specified interior. If visibility or rear passenger space is more your priority, best go for a more obvious hatchback choice.

The 100th Anniversary edition the GT Sport trim and is priced at $40,090 plus on-roads. Equipment includes a 12-speaker Bose system, heating for the steering wheel and front seats, parking sensors, reversing camera, and 100th Anniversary unique features such as the 18-inch black metallic alloy wheels with 100 Years logo.

The 3 100th Anniversary edition is pitched at Mazda fans who want something a little bit special for their money, with bespoke visual details, extra equipment and the knowledge that your car is just one of a 80 in Australia. It’s a pretty appealing proposition for those already wise to the 3’s left-field appeal.

Rachel Burgess

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