THE latest Mazda3 brings a more sporty look to the often rather staid hatchback sector, and a new range of engines and cabin upgrades also helps gives the model a distinct edge in the toughest market sector.
Also available in saloon form, the Mazda3 starts at €22,701 (£20,595) and there are petrol, diesel and mild hybrid options, along with manual and auto gearboxes. With its low road stance, sleek body, wide front grille and narrow headlights, the car has strong visual presence in a sector which includes the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
My test model was a mid-range Sport Lux version, priced at €25,126 (£22,795) with a 120 hp 2.0-litre petrol engine and six-speed manual gearbox. That combination delivers a crisp 0-100 kph time of 10.4 seconds, top speed of 196 kph (122 mph) and average fuel economy of 16.1 kpl (45.6 mpg). Emissions are 117 g/km.
First driving impression is the car is very smooth and quiet. The suspension is a little firmer than many in the class, but that does enable the Mazda3 to corner with minimal lean and reassuring composure. On urban roads, the suspension set-up still provides a comfortable ride and only on rougher surfaces will you notice any mild vibration.
The car is neatly and simply designed and the slightly understated appearance enhances the quality ambience. Mazda says the cabin design is ‘human-centric,’ which I think means the main emphasis was on making everything easy to use!
Despite the sloping roofline towards the rear, there is still adequate headroom in the back and while the boot space of 351 litres is not the biggest in the sector, it meets normal everyday requirements and the rear seats do fold down for larger loads.
The rear styling of the Mazda3 is very eye-catching with discreet spoiler, wide tail-lights and twin exhausts. The narrow rear screen does restrict the view when reversing, but all models have reversing sensors and many have a rear-view camera.
Other features on the test model include adaptive LED headlights, sat-nav, connectivity including smartphone mirroring, adaptive cruise control and dual-zone air-conditioning. Safety kit includes blind-spot monitoring, auto-emergency city braking and a head-up display which projects key driving information onto the windscreen so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.
The Mazda3 impresses as a great overall package which will tick all the must-have boxes of most potential buyers and its cool new look also delivers an alluring visual cachet.
Facts at a glance
Model: Mazda3 Sport Lux
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Performance: 0-100 kph 10.4 seconds, top speed 196 kph (122 mph)
Economy: 16.1 kpl (45.6 mpg)
Emisssions: 117 g/km
Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.