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February 19, 2018

2017 Mazda3 Speed: Long Term Test Update # 4

Nine months into this Mazda3 Speed long-term test reveals one glaring thing: we’re just not driving it enough. Juggling seat time with other demo units in our garage, we clocked in just 5,513 kilometers in this Machine Gray-colored hatchback (about 612 kilometers per month). Having said that, time and time again, we’ve always come to prefer driving the Mazda3—it’s the perfect daily driver for those who love driving.

The Mazda3’s usable power is certainly one of its best traits. Although it’s not the fastest compact in a straight line, the 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G is flexible. There’s good pull from a standstill and yet, is happy enough to push hard. The engine is refined with just a hit of throatiness at the top end. The 6-speed automatic is equally good as well. Eager and responsive, it’s also very smooth. Overall, fuel mileage has remained one of the Mazda3’s strengths. Almost a year on, it’s averaging 9.69 km/L at 19.2 km/h.

Another standout trait here is the Mazda3’s chassis. Not only does it manage to stay comfy even on Manila’s unforgiving roads (it could use better ground clearance though), but it’s also quite fun to toss around when the occasion presents itself. It’s fairly obedient with a good sense of precision dialed into the steering. G-Vectoring Control (GVC) is transparent, but works its wonders when pushed that extra inch.

While there’s no denying that the Mazda3 has fared excellently mechanically, the rest of the car still needs some work.

Despite a liberal application of duct tape on the Enhanced Flooded Battery (EFB), the replacement Motolite battery continues to leak or vent out corrosive acid. This is evidenced by the labels on the battery almost turning black on the edges, and even more worrisome is that it’s starting to eat through the metal battery tie-down. It’s become so bad in places that the battery tie-down has almost been eaten through.

Although we cannot confirm why this is happening with the Motolite battery, a quick Google search reveals that owners have been complaining of the battery’s poor construction. The plastic, they say, used on the battery case is thin and prone to cracking. For example, an overly tightened battery tie-down would be enough to cause small cracks, enabling corrosive acid to vent out. Although the damage is so far limited to just the battery tie-down, we’re hoping Mazda Philippines would be replacing the battery and battery tie-down for safety reasons.

During this update, the Mazda3’s front fender liners have also started to warp. In fairness, it’s an issue that doesn’t just plague Mazda models, but it also underlines how fragile these thin plastic parts can be. The solution? Apply automotive double-sided tape. A few weeks after its application, the left side seems to be holding up, the the right is showing signs of warping again.

Further reiterating our “colorful” ownership with the Mazda3, a vandal attack meant something was sprayed on the hatch area near the “Mazda3” badge. Whatever this chemical was, it ate through the clear coat and striped the paint out of some areas. Overall, the paint held up pretty well though. We’ll be having this fixed during the next scheduled PMS and we’ll find out for certain if Mazda Philippines can handle special colors such as this Machine Gray.

Those issues aside, here are some other miscellaneous thoughts on the Mazda3.

If you plan to install the optional SD-card based navigation system, make sure you don’t have any tint that uses fancy metallic flakes such as V-Kool. Since the GPS antenna is located on the dashboard (the same housing as the front center speaker), it may have difficulty getting an accurate satellite signal. In our case, the app always displays the Mazda3 hovering over buildings so we took it out after about a week.

The rear accommodations remain the Mazda3’s biggest flaw and it’s not because of what you think. The knee room back there is actually quite okay, fitting two adults comfortably enough. The biggest crime is the KODO – Soul of Motion’s sloping roofline. Not only does it rob headroom (our 175-cm height already finds it tight), but it also makes ingress/egress more difficult. Banged heads are commonplace, especially if you park the Mazda3 in tight confines.

Interestingly, the Mazda3 integrates its engine insulation into the plastic engine cover saving weight and cutting assembly complexity in the process. However, if you’re a bit OC and feel naked without seeing an engine insulator installed, you can actually get one specific to the Mazda3. Designed for the Skyactiv-D variant, you can order the hood insulator (Part # B45A56681), 10 hood fasteners (Part # TD1156694), and the rubber protectors (Part # GHP9-56-9Z1 for the left and Part # GHP9-56-9Z2B for the right). Not only does it make the engine look “more complete” it actually does makes the engine seem quieter. And given our problem with the leaking battery acid, it also offers additional protection (better the hood insulator than the hood itself, right).

Our previous problems with the i-Stop system seems to have disappeared. Our home dealership, Mazda Makati, traced to a “ghost” in the computer system—perhaps an uncleared fault code from before. After doing yet another system reset around 4 months ago, the Mazda3 has been working flawlessly. Some anecdotal stories though say that the Mazda3’s electrical system is delicate and additional load (installation of more driving lights, a powerful horn, or an aftermarket audio system) can cause the i-Stop system to throw a fault. Therefore, as a precaution, we removed the CTEK battery charger’s comfort connectors and switched back to alligator clamps.

The Mazda3’s next update is scheduled around April or May when it celebrates its one-year anniversary with us. By that time, we’ll update everyone on the paintwork and battery corrosion problems that’s been plaguing this particular unit.

Questions or comments about your own Mazda3 experience? Feel free to comment below or drop me a line on Twitter or Instagram.

2017 Mazda3 Speed Long-Term Test Update # 4

Months Since Last Report: 3
Kilometers Covered: 5,513
Kilometers Since Last Report: 1,624
Average Lifetime Fuel Consumption (km/L): 9.69
Best Fuel Consumption (km/L): 15.62
Worst Fuel Consumption (km/L) 7.63

Maintenance / Issues / Cost:
  • Front fender liners warped – FIXED (DIY)
  • Battery tie-down corrosion - STILL TO BE CHECKED 
Out of Pocket Expense:
  • NONE
Past Updates


  1. Gonna share my owner feedback of my Mazda 3 2.0 2017 as well.
    -Got my unit december 2016
    -1 year and 2 months of ownership
    -Mostly city driven and 8k km mileage
    -I only use the istop in heavy standstill traffic
    -No problems whatsoever so far
    -Got into a minor accident and replaced my front bumper(took 3 weeks shipping + 1 week of painting) covered by insurance.
    -Mazda Otis sent the bumper to Nissan for painting(They couldn't get the soul red)
    -Mazda Otis finally has a new painting facility and I will bring back my unit for them to repaint the front bumper to proper soul red.
    -Staff are courteous and I have no complains with the service. Overall happy with their after sales service. (Could use improvement in the follow up part)
    -2 free pms and I still have 4 more years of Yojin
    -The only expenses I incurred are fuel, car wash and insurance participation fee expenditures
    -Avg fuel consumption is 17.3L/100km(5.7km/L), mostly Makati traffic, with some idle time, istop off most of the time, and I have a heavy foot
    -Spirited highway driving nets around 10-12km/L
    -Eco highway driving nets 20km/L(I limit revs to 2k rpm)
    -Haven't encountered any battery and fender wrapping problems so far.
    -Driving it puts a smile to my face and a satisfying feeling every time .
    -I love the throaty sound of the engine when you floor it.
    -I'm 5'9 and the 2nd row seating space doesn't bother me but I'm on the lean side.
    -The backup camera and sensor is very useful due to the small rear window of the hatch
    -I would get another Mazda in the future. (CX-5 maybe)

  2. You should have never allowed your battery to be replaced by the Motolite brand. Buy the Japanese battery instead its less of a hassle and last much longer than Mololite although its costs much more.

    1. Wish we had the choice.

      If you check our previous updates, the original Panasonic battery was diagnosed with some dead cells and that caused the problems with the I-stop system.

      Since it carries a 1-year warranty, it was replaced FOC by Mazda. The replacement though is the Motolite EFB and not the Panasonic one.

      Figured that a valid warranty claim and not paying for anything was better than shelling out for the Panasonic battery 😅

  3. Mazda 3 is being overated for what it really is. Good thing not everyone gets brainwash by the marketing hype. I must admit, Mazda did an outstanding job in the exterior design and by being a BMW COPYCAT with regards to the interior.

    At any rate, Mazda 3 is still a good car and i love its looks but it's simply not as good as advertised.

    1. And what is the basis of your statement? Your paltry civic is a notch lower in terms of material quality and driving dynamics. Its also devoid of equipment found on the Mazda 3, while being more expensive. You'll average 20k per year or more on the Civic's pms while you get that for free with the Mazda 3 for 5 years. More value for money than your overpriced overhyped car.

      The skyactic tech and g vectoring are not just marketing, they really work and in the real world, the 2.0L skyactiv engine is more efficient than your 1.5L turbo, while having better feel and handling.

    2. LOL, if anything, it is still underrated here in a market of copycats & ricers who only know Toyota & Honda. I can't imagine anyone finding the current Civic good looking except for its kiddie fans. The Altis is too low-tech for its price. And the Mazda still is the only 100% CBU Japan-made vehicle in this category, all the rest are 3rd-world assembled cars. Speaking of overhype, only a fanb0i would pay P3m+ for a wrong-wheel drive compact economy car. There are proper RWD & AWD sports cars that cost less than that.

    3. So what if its made in Japan? That doesn't mean those other cars are of less quality. If I remember correctly there was even this issue recently about subpar steel being used for cars made in japan.

    4. LMAO! I triggered some fanboys. Can't accept those flaws of your beloved Mazda 3 that was stated by Sir Uly.

      Civic > Mazda 3 by a mile

    5. The corrosion and fender problems are isolated cases, which I haven't heard from other owners.

      You cannot even rebutt the lack of equipment and poor material quality that the Civic has despite its pricing.

      I bet you would still choose a Made in japan product over a Made in Thailand one. Try drinking a starbucks coffee in Japan and here in Manila for example. There's a noticable difference in quality.

      The only advantage of the Civic over the mazda 3 by a mile is interior space, aside from that, the Mazda 3 trumps the Civic in all other aspects by more than just a mile.

    6. The Civic has a crappy disjointed design, noisy & unrepairable CVT tranny, lazy engine design that fundamentally goes against decades-long Honda NA philosophy, Turd World Thailand-quality materials & build, both RS & Type-R are laughingly overpriced for what it is, suffers from b0i ricer reputation, etc.

  4. Hello Mr. Uly!

    Good to see your update with the car! I felt sad when I saw your post on Instagram regarding the vandal at the back of your car. Hopefully it gets fixed and your battery as well! So far as for me I have no problems with my Mazda 3, very Happy I would say. I start to notice that the transmission and engine become smoother after many long haul trips around Nasugbu area, must be break-in. my fuel economy is at 12km/l avg. Will go for PMS next month and hope it goes well.

    It's nice to see you got the hood insulator! Where did you get it from and how much? I'm very interested in getting one because the hood of the Mazda 3 gets really hot and I worry that in about more than 5 years the paint would wear off. Funny the Mazda 3 does not have it but the Mazda 6 has it which I understand, but the Mazda 2 has it as well despite being cheaper than the Mazda 3! I've asked many dealers and they say that the Mazda 3's don't come with a hood insulator. I wonder what's the reason, weight savings?

    Thanks Mr. Uly!

    1. The reasoning behind the lack of a hood insulator in the Mazda3 is that the insulation is actually built into the engine cover already. It could also mean less weight and less complexity when it comes to production.

      The insulation foam that I installed is actually meant for the European Skyactiv-D variants. I got the idea from other owners forums. At first it was out of being an OC (my other cars have hood insulators), but the leaking battery made it an even better buy (better it melts the foam than the paint, right?).

      I actually had the hood insulator shipped from Japan. It costs around P 3,500 (landed). Take extra care though...that component is fragile and must not be folded during transport. Doing so will crack it.

      As for the paint work, let's see. I'm scheduled to bring it in for painting works around second week of March. I'll be sure to update everyone as to what happened!

    2. Oh right! Sorry I missed that from your post. Yeah I've removed the engine cover a couple of times and I do see insulation under it! But I really think that its not enough, when I place my hand on the hood right after driving it feels close to a sizzling plate haha! Will go look online on how to get a hold of this thing. Hopefully Mazda could sort that paint problem you have, is it covered by insurance or would you have to shell out for that?

      Thanks Mr. Uly! Really appreciate your response!

  5. Amaron batteries work flawlessly with iStop in my experience with our cx5

    1. Do you keep your i-Stop on all the time? From Bermaz's seems the Amaron doesn't last more than 6 months if the i-Stop is used all the time.

    2. Are those deep cycle batteries? I'm sure cars with stop-start tech requires a battery that can handle the abuse. My friends say that their batteries on their Mazda 3 lasts well up to two years then needs to be replaced which are more expensive than regular batteries. Would like to see peoples experiences with other batteries than the ones issued by Mazda Philippines.

    3. The Amaron batteries aren't deep cycle (EFB) batteries AFAIK. The i-stop does require a special type of battery that can handle the charge/discharge cycle and yes, they are more expensive than a regular Motolite or Amaron battery.

      Mazda Philippines does offer a Motolite substitute that features EFB (that's the one currently on my Mazda3) and the OE Panasonic one.

    4. A compromise is to keep using the Amaron while smartly using the istop only in heavy standstill traffic or during normal stops at the stoplight, and you wouldn't have a problem with the Amaron battery, therefore removing the need for the expensive deep cycle ones.

      I read that the reason why they included the istop tech is due to US and EU emissions tests.

    5. Most likely EU. I think i-stop is an option even in the US.

    6. Amaron para lang yun sa 1.5l non istop mazda. Void warranty kung gamitin mo sa vehicle na hindi designed for

    7. I have 2 buddies that has Mazda 3 2.0's that has been using the Amaron for more than a year now and there hasn't been any problems according to them. One uses the istop normally but turns it off during heavy traffic. I would rather believe actual Mazda 3 owners than the company itself.

    8. Man, that istop BS is such a hassle.

    9. Fake news lang yang amaron na pwede sa istop equipped Mazda. Amaron doesn't make deep cycle batteries.

    10. It works despite not being deep cycle according to actual mazda 3 owners. You are the one spreading fake news without any real information aside from hearsay.

    11. Everyone stop complaining about battery and istop. You bought a trashy car and now you have to deal with the consequences. Live with it. Lesson learned. Next time buy a better product.

    12. It's ironic that no owner is complaining and those who complain aren't even owners.

      Don't mind the troll above, he's just jealous.

    13. That's called post purchase rationalization. Puro positive lang nakikita.

      Mazda owners' thoughts would be: "Napasubo eh. Sige na lang. Maganda na tong nabili ko, di na ako lugi kahit may mga issues. Pangit naman ibang brand, the best itong sa akin. Bahala na yang istop at batteru,magagawan naman ng paraan... Etc."

      Typical. The issues are clear. What they're doing is simply ignoring the defects because otherwise they would feel that they made a bad decision. Apparently majority of mazda owners can't handle that kind of emotion...

    14. The majority of owners including myself haven't experienced the said "defects". While the original panasonic battery will fail in 2 years time, the tried and tested amaron battery is a sufficient replacement.

      Bad decision? Lol. I've had no regrets with my Mazda 3. It feels rewarding to drive it all the time, in love with it looks, satisfied with its efficiency and still no maintenance money out of my pocket so far.

      I'll admit that I look down upon the other compact cars whenever I see one on the road, but there's a sense of pride whenever you see the other overpriced, boring and under equipped compacts.

      As I've said, I've never heard of the issue of the original battery having dead cells aside from Sir Uly's test ride and I haven't experienced any issues myself.

      That's why I keep spreading the truth despite you guys spreading misinformation.

    15. ^
      A classic example of Post purchase rationalization. Denial, overly defensive, and loves to badger people that what they own is the best thing in the world. Sad.

    16. I would really deny your statements because the problems you said haven't occured to anyone I know that owns a 3.

      Best thing in the world? That's coming from your mouth, not mine. I simply stated that the Mazda 3 is better overall in terms of value, quality and equipment than the main 3 competitors(Civic, Altis, Elantra). The main reason why people buy the Civic and the altis is due to the superficial "abundant parts" and "high resale value".

      In the real world, the price of their parts and the resale value aren't that far off.

    17. Are you sure those are the main reason? Wow... You really are a classic example. Justify and deny pa more... And LOL, you can't even detect sarcasm.

    18. Let me guess, legroom, the h badge and the false obsolete prejudice of Filipinos with Honda as well as Toyota.

      I have no time to play word games and prefer direct to the point statements. All the things that I've stated are facts and not opinions.

    19. Facts??? LOL. And what are your evidence that proves your statement that mazda 3 has no battery/istop issues? Tiwala na lang ba kami sa sinasabi mo? Sino ka ba? Haha. I don't know but seeing the ACTUAL battery issue in this article seem factual to me.

    20. It would be pointless to argue with you, someone who doesn't even own a Mazda 3 or appreciates the drive of one. As I've said, I've never heard of the dead cell in the battery of a Mazda 3 in our club. The most common battery failure due to wear and tear is around the 2 year period.

      Feel free to search the Mazda 3 Skyactiv Club PH and ask their more than 300 members if they ever encountered fender or dead cell battery problems.

    21. You said you didn't encounter any issues based on reviews from the MAJORITY of mazda owners? Majority = more than 300 members? Right...

      Give us tangible proof that there really is no issue. As of now the evidencs of battery failure is stronger than your testimonial.

      Oh and unlike you, I don't have that post purchase rationalization situation. I don't own one but I can appreciate the mazda3 for what it is... but I can also see its issues. The pros and cons. Masyadong mataas tingin mo sa mazda mo eh, minamaliit mo ibang sasakyan... probably compensating for something.

    22. Congrats for the Honda riceb0i for extrapolating from a sample size of 1, looks like absent ka sa introduction to statistics class, haha. The Honda fangheys should worry about your noisy & unrepairable Honda CVT, if that thing goes it costs 6 digits easily.

    23. Bobo nito, honda agad?

    24. The noise you're referring towards the CVT is not the tranny itself. It's the sound of the turbo spool. Your stupidity is reverbrating all over. LMAO!

      I can feel the intense insecurity these Mazda fanboys has towards the Civic. Boy, your Mazda doesn't stand a chance against the Civic. Even those ladies who appreciate cars would pick the Civic over your feminine Mazda 3.

    25. Who's ass would he kiss when you're hiding under an anonymous account? Tell us your name.

    26. The Mazda 3 is a car that punches well above its weight as said by numerous automotive journalist. No other car in the class beats it in terms of pricing while offering the best drive and feeling of luxury in its class. That is where it is focused on and Mazda hits it spot on. Try to make a list of compact cars and compare their equipment and pricing as well and see which one is the better buy even if you exclude the intangibles.

      Paired with the local Mazda distributor, they offer competitive pricing and equipment that if you compare to the other compacts, it lags behind them in pricing and equipment.

      That said, the greatest weakness of the 3 is interior space, which wouldn't bother most average sized Filipinos unless you sit at the back and more than 5'10 in height.

      In terms of the cons, the greatest possible con is the failure of the battery due to the istop in 2 years of usage. While you guys argue that expensive Panasonic battery is a major sting in our wallet, the tried and tested Amaron alternative works well, negating that con. If you use istop all the time during those 2 years, the 5k worth is well compensated by the fuel savings.

      Hate? Isn't it you Civic guys that boasts from years back till now that the Civic is the best? I'm just stating that the Mazda 3 is the better buy than your Civic unless you sit in the back all the time.

      And then there's this argument from you that the Civic's resale value is better and the maintenance is cheaper. Have you ever checked the maintenance costs of the Civic in the period of 5 years in the Casa? Compared to the Mazda 3's free of cost due to Yojin.

      And btw, we now follow a depreciation formula when you resell your car. Only uneducated folks would buy a 5 years old Honda Civic for 60% of the original price.

    27. You asked "Try to make a list of compact cars and compare their equipment and pricing".

      How about the ford focus? Less than 1.1M but with 1.5L turbo and leather seats. No touch screen and no back up camera though but has sensors. It has torque vectoring too.

    28. The noise daw is with the turbo spool. The noise is audible at idle, and that's apparent with all CVT-equipped cars, even with naturally-aspirated models like the Civic 1.8! Moron Honda ricer fan-ghey.

  6. I would like to read a long term review of the Civic RS. Will Honda PH lend you a unit Sir Uly?

    1. I'm open if HCPI will lend me one ;-)

    2. How come did Mazda PH lent you a unit but you hasn't received any offers from Honda PH?

    3. Can't say hahaha.

      Honestly though, I think Mazda wants to get honest feedback from an honest motoring journalist about how it is to drive one of their cars. It's also a good way to get unfiltered feedback about the ownership experience of their cars. Believe me, they've gotten some tips from my long-term experience in order to improve their aftersales.

      This is a great program and while I don't know if other brands will follow suit (or if Mazda will ever do this again), but it's a good way to get continuous feedback from experts as long as they're honest about everything.

    4. Nah, why waste time on that ugly & overhyped & overpriced car. I'm sure Uly wouldn't like to be mistaken for a riceb0i while cruising the streets of Metro Manila.

  7. This Mazda 3 equipped with a BMW-inspired cockpit.


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