Combining sporty styling and outstanding performance, the Mazda3 has plenty to write home about. It boasts eye-catching good looks and excellent equipment levels, plus it’s available in a number of engine and specification levels.
The goodGreat streamlining and driving dynamics
The badLots of opposition out there
Mazda3 2.0 122PS GT Sport Tech (2019)
The bar has been raised in the family car sector by Mazda with the launch of its all-new ‘3’ model that boasts stunning good looks, a wealth of technology and all the exhilarating driving dynamics associated with the sporty brand.
First impressions are vital in such a competitive segment with manufacturers vying for attention and the Mazda3 doesn’t disappoint with its neatly contoured lines, sloping roof, tinted windows, smart alloys and twin tail pipes.
Step inside and the interior oozes class with a ‘less-is-more, clutter-free’ approach to the layout. There is smart black leather upholstery with heated seats and steering wheel, a smart 8.8-inch infotainment screen that is angled towards the driver along with a generous selection of techno treats to explore.
Creature comforts include full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a pitch perfect Bose sound system, DAB radio, sat nav, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, air conditioning and a simple rotary controller dial plus short-cut buttons to access the many on-board systems. There are also practical switches for the climate control which makes adjusting the temperature on the move a simple process.
Powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine delivering 120bhp and mated to a six speed manual gearbox, the Mazda3 can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 10.4 seconds and tops out at 122mph. According to official figures, the car can deliver a combined 44.8mpg with carbon emissions of 119g/km.
But look beneath the bonnet and it’s not any old 2.0-litre petrol engine powering this car – the Mazda unit is called a Skyactiv-G M Hybrid and features a 24V mild hybrid set-up that uses cylinder deactivation whenever possible to help save fuel and improve performance along the way.
In all honesty, when you’re driving the car, you don’t notice this clever engine technology – your main focus will be getting the most enjoyment out of the Mazda and it certainly delivers on that front.
The acceleration through the gears is swift and responsive and there is always a constant supply of power on tap making overtaking slower moving vehicles a doddle.
The dynamic styling of the Mazda3 and low centre of gravity results in great cornering with impressive road holding even when bends are attacked enthusiastically.
In addition, Mazda engineers have worked tirelessly to improve the refinement levels within the latest ‘3’ and they have succeeded with a beautifully hushed cabin even when the car is being driven at higher speeds.
You can expect to feel the odd bump and dip along the way thanks to the firm suspension but that’s a small price to pay. And on the matter of cost, the Mazda is competitively priced at £25,495.
Comfort levels within the car are impressive and there is enough space for a couple of adults to sit in the back provided the front seats are not pushed back too far. On the downside, taller rear passengers will notice their hair brushing against the roof lining due to the dynamic sloping roof design of the vehicle.
Storage options are good with a deep boot that can swallow 351 litres of luggage. That limit can be increased by lowering the 60:40 split-folding rear seats and there are plenty of practical storage options scattered throughout the car, including a glovebox, door bins, central cubby, an overhead sunglasses compartment and cup holders.
All in all, when you factor in the highly comprehensive list of safety features and driver aids, the latest Mazda3 really is the complete package. It looks awesome, drives beautifully, is packed with technology and has a price-tag that will still leave you on speaking terms with the bank manager.
Mazda3 2.0 Hatchback 165PS Sport Nav
The titles KODO –Soul of Motion and SKYACTIV may not be instantly recognisable to everyone, but they are very important keywords for the Mazda brand.
That’s because KODO defines the line-up’s curvaceous and aerodynamic styling and SKYACTIV is a technology that Mazda introduced on its CX-5 which delivers a no-compromise combination of dynamic handling whilst achieving excellent fuel efficiency and low carbon emissions.
The Mazda3 boasts both these technologies and it certainly lives up to all the hype.
The car, priced at £21,620 plus £1,430 extras, looks great from any angle thanks to its very sleek and dynamic styling, Bi-xenon headlights, 18-inch alloys, tinted windows and plenty more besides.
And once you take your seat in the driver-focused cabin, it’s difficult not to be impressed with the level of build quality and vast array of techno treats that surround you.
For example, the light stone leather seats are incredibly comfortable and can be heated to beat off the winter chill.
There is a seven-inch colour touchscreen and to simplify matters, many of the car’s many functions can be controlled via a dial that is conveniently positioned just behind the gearstick.
Features include a nine-speaker Bose surround sound music system which is compatible with modern media devices, a head-up display, dual-zone air conditioning, sat nav, Bluetooth, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlights, cruise control and lots more.
The Mazda3 can easily accommodate four adults – five at a slight squeeze – with ample leg, head and shoulder space in the back.
Despite delivering frugal fuel economy figures – 48.7mpg on a combined run – the Mazda3 doesn’t lack in performance or bite. The 2.0-litre 165PS petrol-driven engine helps it sprint to 62mph in 8.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 130mph.
Acceleration through the six-speed manual gearbox is nice and smooth with a constant supply of power on tap.
It has to be said, driving the Mazda3 is virtually effortless with excellent road-holding and very little engine or road surface noise.
And the great all-round visibility is another plus-factor.
In fact the Mazda3 seems to offer the very best of both worlds. In busy city centres it proved agile and easy to manoeuvre. And then out on the faster roads, it cruised at motorway speeds with ease.
And to help maximise fuel efficiency there is a gear shift prompter. There is one design factor that might take a little getting used to involving the instrumentation. The main dial is a rev counter with a much smaller digital speedo at the bottom of the dial or via the head up display.
As one would expect, the car comes complete with a comprehensive range of safety features, including traction control, hill hold assist, dynamic stability control, numerous airbags and a safety pack costing £700 which introduces smart city brake support, lane departure warning system, high beam assist and rear vehicle monitoring.
All in all, the Mazda3 is quite an all-rounder. It offers good economy, great handling and really does the simple things well. That means you can sit back and enjoy the experience of driving for once.
Mazda3 2.2D 5-door Sport 185PS
When you have a slogan like “Zoom-Zoom” it would be pretty ludicrous to produce a car that chugs along at a snail’s pace with as much oomph as a second-rate blender.
Thankfully, the Mazda3 certainly fires on all cylinders and delivers a fabulous ride that is guaranteed to leave the pickiest of drivers totally satisfied.
Packed to bursting with quality features and top notch specifications the Mazda3 not only impresses on the performance front, but also has all the creature comforts and mod cons we expect these days.
There is, for example, heated seats, sat nav, rear parking sensors, remote keyless entry with push button stop/start technology, 17-inch alloys, a Bose sound system and plenty more besides to keep the driver and passengers suitably entertained.
But the beauty of the Mazda3 is it feels really good to drive. The driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility and while it is easily manoeuvred in busy congested city centres, the Mazda3 can certainly hold its own out on the more open road.
If I had to name a single fault, then I did feel I was buffeted a little in gusty weather, but that aside the drive was a total dream.
The 2.2-litre engine delivered plenty of power and acceleration and the six-speed manual transmission was also very responsive.
It is hard to place the Mazda3 in a single class bracket because of its versatility.
It could easily accommodate a family with plenty of space for back seat passengers and a generously-sized luggage compartment along with numerous useful storage areas throughout.
It has the comfort, performance and economy to attract business drivers and with dazzling good looks it will easily lure in the fashion-conscious motorists too.
And as one might expect from Mazda, the all-new Mazda3 boasts a comprehensive range of safety features, including anti-lock brakes with dynamic stability control, numerous airbags and adaptive brake lights in the form of an emergency stop signalling system which automatically activates the hazard warning lights when the ABS sensors detect severe braking at more than 30mph.
All in all, the Mazda3 is a real pleasure to drive and with its price tag of just under £20k, it has plenty of Zoom-Zoom appeal all round.