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The Mazda3 has a big reputation to uphold, but is the latest '3' up to the task?

8 May 2009

MAZDA has been supplying Australians with class-competitive – and occasionally segment-leading – small cars since the 1960s, so it is no surprise that the Mazda3 is one of our top-selling private purchases. Even from before the days of the old 323, this has been a classic case of ‘if you are on a good thing, stick to it’. Now, Mazda seems to have taken that mantra to heart, because the new-generation, BL-series Mazda3 is simply more of the same, but (mostly) better. Here it is, tested in volume-selling base-model Neo guise.

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Model release date: 1 April 2009 to 1 September 2011

Previous model

Mazda BK Mazda3 Neo/Neo Sport Series II

Released: July 2006
Ended: April 2009
Family Tree: Mazda3

MAZDA kept the pressure on rival small cars with the facelifted version of its all-conquering Mazda3 in the middle of 2006, ushering in a minor front and rear facelift, slightly better equipment levels, and the same keen pricing. The 2.0-litre MZR four-cylinder petrol engine’s power rose slightly, from 104kW to 108kW, while torque snuck up 1Nm to 182Nm, while gearbox choices continued to be a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. To prepare the Mazda3 for run-out, Neo was replaced by Neo Sport from March 2008, and this saw the inclusion of alloy wheels, power windows, electric mirrors and some trim changes.

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