October 26, 2019 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by the author and Andréas N. Delos Reyes

2020 Mazda3 Sportback Premium

Emotionally connected like no other

First tested for our C! August print issue last July, now a few months back, the 4th generation Mazda3 is certainly an outstandingly well-crafted and designed compact car that embarrasses even larger cars with the standard equipment levels alone. Then when you do fully explore the wealth of thoughtful features you will discover that you would have to spend more than twice the amount of hard-earned resources on the premium European brands in our market and still get disappointingly less.


The C! team responsible for that cover review continued to gush about how fabulous the interior is even as I write this abridged review. My hatchback test unit came in Snowflake White Pearl combined with the optional red leather interior and tasteful bodykit. I get why the team lobbied heavily for the Mazda3 for the 15th C! Awards. The exterior proportions may match its predecessor, but the new Mazda3 does use a slightly longer new chassis which allowed the designers to maximize cabin accommodations and execute its gorgeous new interior.

The brakes, engine, and transmission figures may look the same on paper but the Mazda engineers optimized every aspect to function better. So even if our market did not receive the new powerplants yet, the dependable 2.0-liter was able to manage a bit better acceleration and even handling despite switching the rear independent multi-link suspension for a reconfigured torsion-beam setup. I was horrified at first but after driving the new Mazda3 through my routine test routes I appreciated why Mazda made that critical decision. In a very bizarre turn of events, it is precisely our infamously horrible regular traffic conditions that have conversely made the Mazda3’s new features so compelling.

Until our traffic congestion woes are handled and sorted accordingly, road comfort while crawling on our streets are addressed via insulation from the outside world through exhaustive NVH measures, generous active and passive safety suites, beautifully crafted interior that begins with a great steering wheel, and the very best audio system that Mazda has ever installed in their vehicles. The new aluminum grilled 12-speaker Bose audio system produces no less than 300-watts, is positioned perfectly, has Centerpoint surround, SurroundStage signal processing, AudioPilot Noise compensation, BassMatch, and sounds equally great wherever you sit in the car.

To help further reduce road-rage, stress, and road-fatigue, Mazda’s i-Activsense suite manages its new Cruising and Traffic Support (CTS) system, Smart City Brake, Front Cross Traffic Alert, Driver Attention Alert, Collision Avoidance, and Front Cross Traffic Alert (FCTA) while also including G-Vectoring Control Plus when the roads miraculously do open up for spirited driving.

The list of standard equipment is very long and includes the new HUD, 360° View Camera, Smartphone Mirroring, central wide-screen 8.8″ LCD control monitor with better control knob, Sport-mode and steering-wheel paddles for those elusive opportunities to enjoy the thrill of driving, smart-key and ignition, Rain-sensing variable-intermittent windshield wipers, I-STOP to save fuel and reduce emissions, 7 airbags, automatic climate control with rear vents, moonroof, full LED lighting on both ends with new signature lighting effects, 6 colors to choose from, lovely rolled-lipped dual exhausts, and so much more.

The Sportback can feel a little claustrophobic for some, but I would prefer the perception of comfortable intimacy since the new cabin is crafted so well like an elegant design studio. The ride can still get jarring despite the efforts made combined with the great-looking 18-inch alloys wrapped with 215/45R18 89W Bridgestone Turanza T005A tires. For optimal realistic driving needs in an elegant and comfortable full-featured compact, the Mazda3 is definitely the best in its class.



Engine Inline-4, 1998 cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection, VVT, 6-speed AT
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 153 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 148 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm


Top Speed 215 km/h (134 mph)
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 8.3 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 6.2 L/100km Overall


Price as Tested (PHP) PhP 1,590,000.00 (includes P80,000 for red leather interior and body kit)
What's Great Best features, aesthetics, materials, and comfort in its class.
What's Not So The chassis could easily handle significantly more power.
C! Editors Rating 9.5/10
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