Turning Japanese – Living with a Mazda 3: Month 1 Review

Turning Japanese – customer review

Mark is a 30-year-old used Mazda owner now living in Lincolnshire.

Let me preface this post before I go any further, by saying that I am THE pickiest used car buyer imaginable.

  • Front centre armrests are dealbreakers for me.
  • I don’t like crap indicator repeaters.
  • I must have steering wheel stereo controls. Reaching to the head unit is far too strenuous.

You get the picture.

In early February this year, after a motor career that has so far included French, German and British cars, I turned Japanese for the first time and bought a used Mazda. Specifically, the car I now own is a 2007 Mazda 3 2.0d Sport with 68k on the clock, purchased from T W White & Sons in Orpington.

In this post (and its sequels) I will talk about how this car is to live with, what I like about it, what goes wrong and how easy it is to work on (I like to do as much home car repair/servicing as I can). Having just owned the car for a month, I thought this would be a perfect time to start this series of posts, as we all know that the first few weeks of owning a used car can be a tricky time as problems reveal themselves.

I’d like to talk about several areas of ownership, and I’ll return to these topics throughout this series of posts:

  • Comfort
  • Performance
  • Reliability
  • Entertainment
  • Build quality


My previous car (a German saloon from Stuttgart) was quite low to the ground and therefore the driving position was quite relaxed and transitioning to the more sit-up-and-beg style of the Mazda3 was strange at first. After a few weeks, however, the more upright driving has become more and more comfortable, with the sports seats providing fantastic support. Having got the seat position just right, and adjusting the steering wheel reach/rake, I feel more comfortable and supported than in any car I’ve previously owned.Fantastic legroom in the back, or so I’m told by passengers.One very small issue I have in terms of interior features is the sensitivity of the occupancy sensors in the seats (I warned you I was picky), which basically tell the car which of the several airbags need to be primed and which seatbelts should be fastened. Put a packed lunch on the passenger seat and the car will bleep at you! I have the seatbelts in the back fastened at all times to try and stop the warnings when I put items on the back seat.

Used Mazda 3 from Side


I’ve owned a 2.0 turbo diesel before, incidentally with exactly the same power (143bhp) as the Mazda3, but the Mazda has more torque and you really feel that in the performance of the car. 1st and 2nd gears can feel a little laboured, as with many common rail diesel vehicles, but 3rd and 4th are full of torque especially when the turbo kicks in at 2,000rpm. The engine also pulls well through 5th, although 6th is for cruising at 60mph+ only.

The gearbox is very tight and is reminiscent of my mum’s MkII MX-5, just a bit bigger in terms of the gate and the stick itself. There’s very little play in the stick when in gear and you get that satisfying click when selecting a gear.

And, to be honest, I have never owned a car with so much front end grip. Enough said.

Efficiency-wise, I’m getting 40mpg+ on my very short commute (5 mile round trip) and 50mpg on longer journeys where I can maintain speed a bit more, rather than being somewhat stop/start on my commute.


I got a brilliant warranty from T W White & Sons and so far have had no reason to use it. There is an issue with the xenon headlight leveling sensor, not yet diagnosed officially, but if it is kaput then it’s a fix under warranty, which is fantastic. Usually this is an expensive replacement part, so the warranty could save me a wedge on this! Other than that the car feels tight and drives true, the engine runs well and quietly for a diesel.


Whilst the interior on the 2007 model does feel a little dated. With its 90s LCD displays, the Bose stereo which sits within it is immense. Combined with 7 Bose speakers, the sound is astonishing. Bass is deep, clear (and LOUD) with zero distortion at any comfortable listening level. Push it hard enough to hurt your ears and there may be some popping from the speakers, but day-to-day it is almost perfect and is by far the best car sound system I have owned.

Even my sub-and-amp obsessed friend was impressed.

Build quality

Apart from a couple of interior squeaks, I’m very impressed with the build quality, as you come to expect from Japanese manufacturers. A couple of bits of suspect plastic used on the dash, but overall very well put together.

My only concern here is paint peel on the 17” alloys, disappointing on a 6-year-old car.


I paid £6,000 for the car and feel very happy with my purchase so far. I’ll report back again in a month, telling you about any new issues with the car, keeping you up to date with mpg figures and any servicing/repairs I do.

Until then…


Mark L

If you would like to write a in-depth review of a car you’ve recently purchased from T W White & Sons, we would love to hear from you. Get intouch with our Marketing department.