The Mazda3 known as the Mazda Axela in Japan, a combination of "accelerate" and "excellent" is a compact car manufactured by Mazda. It was first introduced in 2003 as a 2004 model, replacing the Familia/323/Protegé in the C-segment.
Mazda Axela is a car aimed squarely at family hatchback buyers who enjoy driving.
To that end, the fourth-generation Mazda Axela can be considered a total revolution over its predecessor. It employs a new, smoother, sportier design language, a significantly repackaged interior, brand-new technology and driver assistance features, riding on a totally new platform as well. Like Mazda icons of the past, unconventional engine technology plays a key role in setting the new Mazda Axela apart from the crowd.
The driving position is excellent and the ergonomics of the controls are perfect. The wheel is well sized and the rim is thin; ideal for exploiting the Mazda Axela’s tidy handling and steering. There’s little in the way of feedback, but few mainstream cars supply this these days. At least the Axela’s steering rack is weighted well and the speed of the steering motor is spot on.
The Axela is responsive on turn-in, and by family car standards it’s extremely composed. A lot of that can be put down to standard G-Vectoring technology, which detects wheel lock and reduces engine torque as necessary, shifting weight onto the front axle and pushing the nose of the car into the tarmac. It doesn’t corner totally flat – there is a little body roll – but it’s communicative, and you’ll quickly learn the limits of the car’s grip.
The Axela has a classy feel inside, with simple lines and a deliberate lack of buttons. The dashboard has a wrap-around feel and is topped with an infotainment screen that’s controlled by a rotary dial behind the gear lever. Simple heater controls fall easily to hand, while the analogue dials are refreshingly simple. Build quality is great and the materials used are top-notch, especially on higher-spec models – there’s very little to complain about inside the Axela’s cabin.
Standard safety kit is generous: all models get nine airbags, a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert, hill-start assist, intelligent speed assist, lane-keep assist with lane departure warning and a driver attention alert system. There’s also an emergency calling system than can automatically alert the emergency services in the event of an accident.