The Mazda Axela, known as Mazda 3, has always been a popular car among youngsters buying their first car in the West.
This sedan holds one of the top positions in the global market and has appealed entry-level drivers all over the world ever since the first-generation Axela came out.
In fact, the first generation received such positive feedback that it even started getting featured in popular racing games back in the days such as "Need For Speed: Underground" and "Need For Speed: Most Wanted".
Team Wheels managed to get their hands on a 2015 Mazda Axela, a third generation Axela that belongs to Al Akib, to review and discuss its pros and cons.
Just like its previous generations, the new Axela is offered as both hatchback and sedan. However, since the sedan is more popular in the local car market, we will focus mainly on the sedan in this review.
From the front, the Axela is no different from any other modern Mazda with their recognisable front grill which is common all throughout their current lineup starting from the Miata to the CX-9. The headlights as well as the tail lights are three dimensional and make the car look much wider than it is from the front and rear as well.
Bits of chrome and silver can be found all over the 2015 Axela but the one being reviewed today is fitted with a custom blacked out grille sourced from America, lips in the front and back, and 16-inch stock rims. The upgrade, indeed, looks marvellous!
If you are concerned about the Axela's size, we can assure you it is not a small car in any way. It is a midsize luxury sedan and is almost on par with the Toyota Allion and Premio. With a low line, wheel arches which can easily accommodate 18 or 19-inch aftermarket rims, and an aggressive styling, the new Axela looks better and more sporty than any other entry level car in its class and price range.
Under the hood, the new Axela is powered by a 1.5 litre in-line 4 SkyActiv-G petrol engine which produces about 100HP and 150Nm of torque. Its hybrid variant is equipped with a 2.0 litre SkyActiv-G hybrid engine that squeezes out 136HP and about 200Nm of torque from a four cylinder engine.
The Axela comes with either a four-speed automatic, six-speed manual, or a six-speed automatic SkyActiv E-CVT transmission with a tiptronic setup.
Axela's hybrid system is the same "Atkinson Cycle" setup that can be found in Toyotas and hence, maintenance would not be an issue in Bangladesh. Moreover, the hybrid powertrain's cells are divided into battery packs which can be individually replaced like those of Toyotas.
Unlike the rest of the competition, the Axela comes featured with front sway bars from the factory which definitely gives it an edge on its rivals. Other than that, the car's suspension is just soft enough to ensure an amazing ride comfort while the factory 16-inch rims wrapped around in Bridgestone tires provide enough grip and comfort.
The front sway bar helps to minimise body roll and ensures great driving pleasure as well as superior handling. Some other features that complement its handling include ABS, AFS, optional brake assist, cruise control, and four wheel disc brakes.
Stepping inside the Axela, one will be amazed to see all the features this sedan has to offer.
With semi bucket seats, dual climate control, a digital gauge cluster, an optional heads up display in the high end models and a top mounted modern looking infotainment system with a central control system located right in front of the gear lever, the new Axela is miles ahead compared to its boring and bland Toyota or Honda rivals.
Looking carefully at the interior, one will undoubtedly feel that Mazda had a problem with deciding on the type of trim to use on the Axela as the interior comes with everything from piano black plastics to fake carbon fiber trims to even red stitches here and there.
It is not necessarily a bad thing though and the fake carbon fiber-like design on the key remote complements the carbon fiber-like panels inside the car. It depicts a clear picture that Mazda thinks and cares about the impression it leaves behind on its customers.
One thing that people can complain about while comparing the Axela with Toyota Allion or Premio is the smaller legroom and a slightly shorter head space. But its height and space is good enough for average-heighted Bangladeshi consumers.
"The 2015 Axela is absolutely magnificent!" said Abeerul Abedin, a local enthusiast, while sharing his experience of driving the car, "the seats are comfortable and the steering feels amazing as well."
"The suspension is slightly harder compared to Allions and Premios or even Axios. I think Toyota has gone for comfort but Mazda has done it intentionally to make the Axela stiffer and more fun to drive as they intended to make this a driver's car. In my opinion, the Axela undoubtedly has the perfect balance between ride comfort and driving pleasure," added Abeerul.
The 2015 or 2016 Axela starts at around Tk22-24 lakh for the base 1.5 liter and about Tk26-27 lakh for the more powerful and efficient 2.0 liter variant.
There is also a facelifted version of the third generation Axela which became available from 2017 and can be found at a slightly higher price but with even more features.
If you want a daily-driver for yourself, the Mazda Axela is definitely a car to consider especially for millennials.