Quite possibly the single greatest shift in Sydney’s Automotive market in the past ten years is the shift within the family car market. The Holden Commodore and the Ford Falcon not only fought it out in the great mountain race of Bathurst but they also fought tooth and nail in the showrooms. The Family Car market was dominated by these two companies. People who bought small hatchbacks were wealthy lawyers and accountants who bought them for their teenage daughter to go to uni and slide up against the flurecent yellow parking pylons once a week. No one ever dreamt of owning a small compact hatchback as the family car.
Things have changed due to the rise in awareness surrounding global warming and the rise in greedy oil corporations desires to rapidly become wealthy. Petrol prices climb and climb forcing the average consumer to have a good hard look at the fuel bill at the end of the week. This in turn has changed the markets buying behaviour. Enter the small four cylinder, five door market and out with the bigger fuel guzzler rear wheel drive market.
Now days when we talk about Holden Commodores we think of overweight, pie eating blokes in V8s doing burnouts at inappropriate times and places. Blokes using their dole payments on fuel and cigarettes (but not always in that order) to fund this sort of behaviour. The Ford Falcon did not do that much better in the reputation game either. The Falcon is now closely affiliated with cars rusting away whilst still under warranty and cheap plastic components. Advertisements for secondhand Fords read “rust free” yet literal interpretation of this is you get the rust for free with the car.
So who was the big winners out of this shift in treads. The smaller four cylinders made it onto the top shelf after the dust settled. But just selling a small five door, four cylinder vehicle did not guarantee you a place in the ring. Car manufactures had to step up in many areas and to be perfectly honest Mazda has done this.
Research on sales statistics differ from source to source but the Mazda 3 comes in at, or near top position on all lists when it comes to number of vehicles sold in a twelve month window. Why?
We have our own theory. Someone in the strokey beard meeting at Mazda obviously got the sack around the time the RX8 and the RX7 series seven was designed. The new long bearded executive in charge of design has obviously moved his focus away from the flower arranging committee of the local Catholic church and applied his real skill at creating cars that consumers want to be seen driving.
The shift in design style of Mazdas entire range seems to start around then. From that point on, anything that came out of Mazdas car production plants was very obviously a Mazda and you could tell it was so, long before the badge went on. In a very clever level of branding, almost overnight Mazdas car design took them from being the company that make clunky, practical and boring cars to making streamline, racey, stylish and sporty cars. Even the more recent CX5 and CX9 are people movers with that same sophisticated look to them.
This change in design is was what we believe put Mazda a peg above the rest. The market was looking for a cheaper, smaller and more reliable car for the family vehicle but when it came to making these decisions the husband generally does not care how it looks. As a general rule a blokes view is “its a machine that does its job and has a purpose”, however there is no way Mrs Jones will be seen dead in a bland white box with wheels. Mum chose the car based more on looks and styling and Mazda wins out with its new branding designs every time.
So The ladies across the planet all responded positively when the 3 came out and as a result the sales started to skyrocket. The Mazda 3 was and still is the most practical, stylish and value for money in the family car market.
So a great car sold on looks alone is really just a VW Golf. Mazda had to make sure the mechanical components of the car stood up to the market expectations, as Mrs Jones does not want to wait three weeks for a two hundred thousand dollar brake pedal rubber to arrive from France or Germany.
Mazda released a new series of engines with the Mazda 3. The MZR series that runs no timing belt, but rather a timing chain bringing maintenance costs well down. But these small engines had the ability to perform well, keep fuel consumption low and we can now say after seeing hundreds of them through the workshop there is very little that goes wrong with them.
In more recent years Mazda has released facelift models which features a lot of styling upgrades but also included a diesel engine option and six airbags which took it from a 4 star safety rating to a five star.
In 2012 Mazda released the Skyactive technology which further added to the fuel conservation demand the consumers were having.
To date there are only a few frequently replaced items on the Mazda 3 which you should be aware of if you’re looking at buying one. The items we most commonly replace in the Mazda 3 are
1. Driver side engine mount.
2 Front lower control arm bushes split.
3. These run a very difficult to access pollen filter (filter for the air conditioning) a lot of mechanics don’t know they exist and thus they are often not replaced.
4. Panasonic battery fitted from factory seems to fail prematurely.
5. All of Mazda range chew through tyres on the edges. This can be countered by running high tyre pressures and checking them regularly.
And thats about it. This might sound like a bit of a list but the reality is aside from oil changes, filters and brakes these are the only real faults we have come across with these cars and we have seen hundreds of them. Overall they are our number one recommended vehicle on the secondhand car market.
The Mazda 3 looks great, drives well, is cheap to maintain and is possibly the most reliable car on the market.