Mazda 3: Hatchback vs Fastback

  • We compare Mazda 3 body styles
  • Both offer identical running costs
  • Practicality lets the Fastback down

Many people are actually not aware that as well as the hatchback you can also buy a Mazda 3 saloon - or ‘Fastback' as it's named.

We’ve had one in on test recently in the same trim and with the same petrol engine as our long term Mazda 3 hatchback. The perfect opportunity to see how they both compare, then. 

First things first, lets take a look at how the pair shape up on paper.

There’s actually very little to split the two. Identical combined fuel economy of 55.4mpg and the exact same CO2 emissions of 119g/km means that deciding between the two doesn't come down to running costs.

Under the bonnet of both cars is the same 2-litre petrol powertrain which offers 118bhp and 210Nm of torque available from 4,000rpm. The Fastback is marginally quicker though with a 0-62mph time of 8.8 seconds (the hatchback achieves the same sprint in 8.9 seconds) with a top speed of 123mph verses the hatchback's 121mph.

We’ve talked a lot about how impressive the Mazda 3's comfort levels are, so as you may expect, we had very high expectations of the Fastback.

Happily it proved supremely comfortable and arguably slightly more so than the hatch; its soft and comfortable suspension makes it an ideal motorway commuter car with little engine or wind noise intruding the cabin, even at high speeds.

To drive, both cars are refined and accomplished with well-weighted steering and plenty of grip offered in the corners. They both lack feedback through the steering, though, which dulls the fun slightly. 

Comfort levels in the Fastback are further enhanced by the optional leather interior which is missing on our long-term car. It looks great but is pretty pricey at £1,000 extra, however with the seats you also get an electronically powered driver’s seat which makes it easier to find your ideal position when behind the wheel.

Now when it comes to price the Hatchback is ever so slightly cheaper than the Fastback but it's marginal: the Fastback comes in at £20,195 while the hatch creeps in just a few hundred quid less at £19,895.  

Both cars have striking looks courtesy of Mazda's new Kodo design language and the team here is divided on which looks the best. I personally like the sportier compact look of the hatchback rather than the lower and sleeker profile of the saloon. 

SportNav trim is at the top-of-the range and comes excellently equipped, standard kit for both includes 18-inch alloy wheels, sat-nav, head-up display, premium Bose surround system with nine speakers, heated seats, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, DAB Radio, Bluetooth, cruise control and dual-zone climate control.

We can’t go much further without mentioning paintwork. I’ve said it before about how much I dislike my road test editor’s choice of colour in the Mazda 3 hatchback, the Blue Reflex is pretty boring. This Fastback on the other hand looks great in Soul Red Metallic paint which costs £660 extra over the hatchback's £540.

Our long-termer only has the paintwork as an additional cost while the Fastback on test has a safety pack too which costs £700 and includes automatic high beam headlights, lane departure warning system and a rear view monitoring system which warns of vehicles approaching from behind in adjacent lanes and the blind spots which we think is a worthwhile investment.

The Fastback is longer than the hatchback by 120mm, however leg room is identical in both cars. There's 55 litres more boot space in the Fastback though, that said the lid has to be pushed all the way back to stay up and the tailgate opening is smaller too making loading tricky.   

Verdict

Roughly around the same price, with identical running costs and similar kit, there isn’t a lot to separate the two. Really it all comes down to personal preference on looks and how highly you rate practicality.

For me the hatchback wins every time.

Mileage: 4,605

MPG (Calc):  37.1mpg