Used Mazda 3 Saloon 2004 - 2009 review

Category: Family car

It's more characterful than past small Mazdas, but this saloon isn't as practical as its hatchback brother

Mazda 3 Saloon (04 - 09)
  • Mazda 3 Saloon (04 - 09)
  • Mazda 3 Saloon (04 - 09)
Used Mazda 3 Saloon 2004 - 2009 review
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Steve Huntingford
Published01 January 2006

What's the used Mazda 3 saloon like?

Underneath, the Mazda 3 shares its running gear with the Ford Focus, which is among the best small hatches to drive and strongly built, too.

The Mazda responds sweetly to the steering and brakes. The ride, although firm at low speeds, is rarely jarring. Once on the open road, this smooths out, and you can appreciate the car's superb body control.


It's more characterful than past small Mazdas, but this saloon isn't as practical as its hatchback brother

  • It has a sparkling drive
  • and it's versatile, well priced and cheaper than VW Golf
  • The ride is firm-ish in town, and there's some motorway wind roar
  • The diesel engine is weak

Inside, it's bland but pleasant, resembling the bigger Mazda 6 with its big, clear dials and buttons. Things are made very comfortable for the driver because the seat and wheel adjust every which way and the cabin is roomy, although shoulder space is tight for three adults in the back. The boot is a fair size and a good shape, but obviously this saloon isn't ultimately as practical as the hatchback version, although the rear seats split 60/40 and drop to create a flat floor.

Everything fits and feels well screwed together, as you'd expect from a manufacturer that sits consistently near the top in reliability surveys.

Ownership cost

What used Mazda 3 saloon will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Mazda 3 saloon?

The 3 won't be as cheap to own as some, but it should be good value. Expect it to cost more to service than a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra, although you can cut costs by taking it to a good independent garage rather than a franchised outlet. The car is straightforward to work on, but don't expect any garage to be familiar with it: find a non-franchised workshop that specialises in Mazdas.

Some spare parts are expensive, but because of the make's excellent reputation for reliability, you shouldn't need to shell out too often. Insurance is cheap: most models qualify for group 5 cover, although the 2.0 is in group 8.

If fuel economy is top of your list of priorities, you have to choose the diesel, which promises up to 56mpg overall. However, the 1.6 petrol can manage up to 39mpg, which is still pretty respectable, while the 2.0 returns 34mpg.

Our recommendations

Which used Mazda 3 saloon should I buy?

Compared to the hatchback, the salon's range is rather more limited, with no 1.4 engine or S trim. But, we still come to the same ultimate conclusion: the 1.6 petrol delivers the best trade-off between power and ownership costs.

By comparison, the 2.0 is quick but noisy, and brings with it electro-hydraulic power steering, which feels more nervous than the hydraulic-only set-up on the 1.6. The diesel is economical, but feels sluggish.

On this saloon, the trims run from TS to TS2 and Sport. But, TS is so well kitted out - with four airbags, anti-lock brakes, full electrics and a CD player - that we'd scarcely bother with those higher in the range.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Mazda 3 saloon?