Mazda 3 2.0 e-Skyactiv X saloon (2024) review
Mazda airbrushes its 3 range - we’ve driven the new four-door saloon.
Matt Robinson
Matt Robinson

Published on June 7, 2024

Mazda has made some subtle alterations to the Mazda3 range, including both the hatchback and this Saloon model. Here, we’re trying the updated four-door saloon with the clever Spark-Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) e-Skyactiv X engine - is it still a tempting car in an electric-focused world?

In the metal

Mazda hasn’t made any external alterations to what it is proud to tag ‘award-winning design’ for this generation of 3, so there are no bodywork changes for either the hatchback or the Saloon. Although we are pleased that the four-door continues, as it’s a rare format for this class of car these days. Also, you could say that for all the talk of picking up plaudits for the car’s aesthetics, the expanse of metal behind the back doors can look a bit hefty on the hatchback, something the Saloon neatly solves with its three-box profile. It’s therefore even better-looking than its more upright sibling, which means it is very good-looking indeed.

Inside, it’s the technology which has had an overhaul. The central infotainment screen has been enlarged from 8.0 to 10.25 inches across the diagonal, which allows for clearer mapping on the navigation. Connectivity has been boosted with wireless connection of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with those two apps’ proprietary navigation software now supported on the Mazda3’s head-up display. There’s also ‘Qi’ wireless smartphone charging and USB-C connection ports. All of this works efficiently, looks tidy and is most worthwhile, so big ticks all round to Mazda here.

The Saloon is slightly more practical - in terms of sheer, on-paper numbers, at least - than the Mazda3 hatchback. Both cars have an identical wheelbase (the distance between the front wheels and the back), but the four-door is 200mm longer, so its boot measures 450 litres with all seats in use compared to 351 litres in the five-door model. Fold the rear seats down, in which there’s similar passenger space in both Mazdas when they’re up, and the Saloon still wins, with 1,138 litres vs. 1,019, although the hatch obviously has a bigger aperture through which to load things.

Anyway, whatever way you cut it, the handsome 2024 Mazda3 has a lovely-looking, sumptuously finished cabin with good technology, excellent ergonomics, loads of comfort and toys, and a good dose of practicality mixed in. So, it remains still an enticing car on pure showroom appeal.

Driving it

The Mazda3 Saloon is offered with just one engine and two specifications in Ireland, with motive power coming from the SPCCI 2.0-litre petrol engine making up to 186hp and 240Nm. This is the engine technology that runs kind of like a diesel, in the simplest terms, so that saves fuel - Mazda quotes just 118g/km of CO2 and impressive consumption of 5.2 litres/100km; this, from a big, normally aspirated, 2.0-litre petrol engine with the best part of two-hundred horsepower, remember.

Every time we’ve driven the Skyactiv-X technology since we first tried it as a prototype way back in 2018, we’ve felt the system has been refined and improved a little, and that holds true about this 2024 Mazda3. It’s a lovely, smooth delivery of power from this unit now, with none of the background jerkiness or hesitancy that we remember from earlier examples, and it is connected once more to one of Mazda’s sublime manual gear linkages. Swapping cogs in the transmission on this 3 Saloon is a joy - there are sports cars which don’t have gearboxes as tactile to operate as this.

The problem, though, is that for all its clever combustion efforts, the assistance of Mazda’s ‘M Hybrid’ electrical system and that 240Nm torque figure, the e-Skyactiv X still feels like harder work to drive than a comparable-power turbocharged petrol alternative would be; you’d get more like 300Nm from one of those, which makes them feel more muscular and effortless in day-to-day usage than the 3. Naturally, the way around this torque deficit in the Mazda is to switch gears once more with that wondrous manual gearbox, but for many this will be nothing more than a faff when all they want to do is keep up with regular traffic flow.

Otherwise, the Mazda3 Saloon is a quietly assured, confidently tuned machine. It’s eager and spry in the corners if you’re feeling spirited behind the wheel and you’re on the right roads, and it’s comfortable and refined for all those other, much more frequent times when you’re not. It soaks up poor tarmac quite brilliantly and it keeps the passenger compartment volume at a level you’d called ‘discreetly hushed’ at all times. It’s just it’d be even better with a light-pressure turbo bolted to its 2.0-litre engine.

What you get for your money

Whereas the hatchback has more engine choices than the Saloon, it also has more specifications. There are five trim grades for the five-door, but just two for the four-door Mazda3 - this Exclusive-Line and a luxurious Takumi above it. But as even this Exclusive-Line comes with items such as 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, heated front seats and a premium 12-speaker Bose sound system, among much more, you don’t necessarily need to look anywhere beyond ‘base’ trim for the Mazda3 Saloon. That it also costs less than €40,000 is another feather in the 3 Saloon’s cap.


Now that the Mazda6 has gone to the great automotive pasture in the sky, the appeal of the Mazda3 - be that a hatch or this sleek Saloon - is that it’s the biggest ‘car’ the company makes that isn’t a crossover or SUV of some sort. This makes it highly likeable, and it helps that the 3 is so superb to drive, with its sharp steering, good body control and epic blend of ride comfort and refinement. The SPCCI e-Skyactiv X engine, though, for all its technological cleverness and admittedly very impressive execution, is arguably the weak point of the package, but it’s not enough of an impediment to prove a dealbreaker with regards opting for a Mazda3. All things considered, this is one of the best and wonderfully under-the-radar C-segment vehicles you can buy right now.


Tech Specs

Model testedMazda3 e-Skyactiv X 2.0 186 Exclusive-Line (2024MY)
Irish pricingSaloon starts at €38,815 as tested
Powertrainpetrol - 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with mild-hybrid assistance
Transmissionmanual - six-speed gearbox, front-wheel drive
Body stylefour-door, five-seat saloon
CO2 emissions118g/km
Irish motor tax€190 per annum
Fuel consumption5.2 litres/100km (54.3mpg)
Top speed216km/h
0-100km/h8.1 seconds
Max power186hp
Max torque240Nm
Boot space450 litres with all seats in use, 1,138 litres with rear seats folded
Max towing weight1,300kg (braked trailer)
Kerb weight1,493kg
Rivals to the Mazda 3