Mazda in the modern era of car manufacturing have impressed greatly as we have found out from driving a few of their latest range including the Mazda 6, CX-3 and of course the infamous MX-5, all of which you can read about if you click on the model names.
Not only has the specification of the cars come on leaps and bounds, the driving experience is a joy as Mazda’s SkyActive technology reduces vehicle weight which not only aids handling but also economy and some of the petrol models available are more frugal than many new large diesel cars on the market today.
This time Mazda have sent the Mazda 3 for review, a much more practical car than the smaller 2 in terms of size and inside space, however it is still small enough to cope easily with city living and will stand out with its striking looks.
Outside, the latest Mazda 3 should be easily recognised as a Mazda with the signature front end design. A flat front from the side profile yet sharp and pointed from every other angle with sleek headlamps and on this test car, optional front fog lamps housed in the front bumper.
The Mazda 3 is available as a five door hatch as tested, as well as a lesser practical but perhaps slightly more stylish looking fastback four door saloon variant. All models at a quick glance could all be mistaken for the larger Mazda 6 due to them looking bigger than the outgoing 3 models.
This car tested is an SE-L Nav model finished in a beautiful Machine Grey metallic paint with the added extra of LED front fog lights rain sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlights, rear privacy glass and rear parking sensors along with heated front seats, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, sat nav and an adjustable speed limiter.
Load space was surprisingly ample, offering more than many rivals, however I felt it would benefit from being a little deeper to aid further practicality. A couple of suitcases, some sports bags for a Saturday game with a few mates and a week’s shopping for a large family will be absorbed like water by a sponge in the boot of the 3.
Key-less entry system lets me inside the cabin, which I must say is a vast improvement over models of old, a pleasant place to be with very soft and comfortable cloth seats that offer just enough support with decent leg and head room in the front.
One small complaint, would be that of the central front armrest as when in my comfortable driving position it done nothing but feel like an obstruction, a length and height adjustable version would have saved an elbow bashing on every trip.
Rear leg and head room was ample enough for a decent road trip with four adults whilst all round visibility when driving was fantastic. Cloth trim throughout is of good quality while the front seats benefit from being heated.
Infotainment is visible via the 7” colour display with integrated Sat-Nav whilst AM/FM/DAB Radio and various connectivity is available for MP3 playback from your media source of choice, be it your phone, iPod or maybe even just a USB storage drive.
Again there is a drive wheel and buttons beside the handbrake to navigate around the system as well as steering wheel controls and I am still quite sure that the screen isn’t of the finger touch variety which means when inputting sat-nav locations, it can be slow and tedious via the drive wheel unless stationary at which point the screen can be used by touch.
Engine wise this model tested was fitted with the 2.0L petrol power-train producing 120PS with 210Nm via the six-speed gearbox to the front wheels whilst an automatic ‘box is available as an option on this engine.
With a 0-62mph time of 8.9 seconds it isn’t exactly sluggish and despite enjoying a good run up the rev range, has plenty of torque to aid a more gentle drive and as such over my week with the car I was able to see a genuine combined 50mpg which is outstanding.
Prices for the Mazda 3 hatchback start from £18,665 for the SE whilst this SE-L Nav starts from £20,765 before options and the range topping Sport Nav starts from £23,365. Road tax on the model tested is a mere £30/annum and combined with the great economy on offer this model is potent yet pocket friendly.
The Mazda 3 does what it does, it does it well and there is a mountain of choices when it comes to spec/engines/options so the best thing to do is contact your local Mazda dealer and get a test drive if you’re in the market for something other than a VW Golf or Ford Focus.
I would more than happily drive this particular test car on a daily basis and a three-year 60k mile warranty keeps peace of mind with servicing every 12.5 miles or annually keeping running costs minimal the Mazda 3 is worth a look.
Words & Photos: Graham Curry
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