The Mazda3 Skyactiv, much to the delight of the enthused, proved to be the car they’ve been waiting for. Blessed with the Kodo Soul of Motion touch, never in the history of the model has it been endeared with such hullabaloo.

You’ll understand why after seeing our old versus new comparison. To its credit, the Mazda3 brought to the table a perfect mix of good looks and driving dynamics. While the former did most of the job in pushing sales volume, the latter aspect is heredity, polished through decades of the Hiroshima carmaker’s relentless pursuit of the joy of driving.

To this day, more than two years after being in Malaysian showrooms, the Mazda3 is still one of the best driving C-Segment sedans money can buy. Thanks to local assembly, the entry-level variant is priced at RM106k and goes up to just RM121k for the full-spec variant. They are all powered by the same 2.0-litre naturally aspirated Skyactiv-G engine, producing 162 hp at 6,000 rpm and 210 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed conventional automatic.

Now, for the price, most would immediately draw comparisons to the 11th-generation Honda Civic 1.5TC-Premium. The Civic is arguably more fuel efficient, definitely better looking and is more bang for buck in almost every way. It’s also the first car in the segment to come with the remote engine and air-con start function.2016 Honda Civic 1.5L Turbo Review -

The Civic, for all intents and purposes, is built with frugality in mind and not particularly on driver involvement. Make no mistake, the Civic handles beautifully, charges forward without hesitation and does all of the above – and more – in high fashion and comfort.

Honestly, it’s hard for any cars in the segment to compete with the Civic. Popular and established models like the Corolla Altis and Mazda3 could still put up a decent fight, but the rest struggle to even make it to the shopping list. It’s worth noting then, that the facelifted Mazda3 is slated for arrival sometime next year. It will be locally assembled as well, so expect similar pricing but with slight upgrades in features.

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Matthew H. Tong
A straightforward, fun-loving guy who appreciates the superficiality of a car's appeal, but his admiration for anything on four wheels gives him no reason to neglect the makings of a car. He still believes that fun comes with three pedals and a stick.