As good as it looks? The Mazda3, a mid-size saloon, or sedan, as they call it.
And the quick answer to the question is pretty much ‘yes’! It is another good-looker, like most of the Mazda range, in my opinion.
The challenge for anyone in the market for a new car is working out which suits them best…there is no such thing as a bad car and Mazda is competing against so many other good cars.
So you like the look; that narrows it down a bit.
The price? You’ve reckoned on whatever £ in deposit and the monthly payments, or a straight hire-purchase scheme. Around 80% of cars are acquired in these ways.
And is there a good local dealer?
And then the details of fuel consumption, annual VED and general running costs.
The Mazda3 emits 121 g/km…pity: this costs £130 per annum; one gram less would save £100. All this could further refine the search.
But what is the car actually like? Our week in the Mazda3 was easy and relaxed.
One of the first impressions was that it is a car that can really be quite sporty: Mazda’s hugely successful MX-5 two-seater has perhaps influenced the design team to lend a bit of their fun character to the family car. Therefore, put your foot down a little and this top version e-Skyactiv X, mild hybrid, 4-cylinder, 183bhp, 2.0-litre engine whips into almost track mode, enhanced by excellent road-holding. Zero to 62mph can be reached in 8.1 seconds.
The manual six-speed gearbox is particularly light and snappy from 5th to 6th, but I found it just a touch notchy going across the gate (an earlier drive in an automatic would probably be my choice). Usually, meanwhile, it is nice and quiet, feeling attractively simple to drive.
However, at this point, you’re well over the speed limit! The car will potter along at 30mph, only 1000rpm, quite comfortably on level roads and the torque at 2000rpm will really get you going after that, maximising at 4000 pm, so the acceleration just keeps on coming.
The brakes worked powerfully and smoothly in a simulated emergency.
For loading up, the boot lid is lightweight and easily shut with one hand. Four adults can be quite comfortably accommodated, and all of them should appreciate the reasonably easy access (however, they may need to duck their head down a bit getting in).
Clever touches include Mazda’s ISG (intelligent stop-go) — it gives perhaps the smoothest re-start of any of these systems, thanks to the engineers designing the engine’s pistons to be in the optimum position when the engine stops.
All stop/start devices, of course, contribute to fuel economy. The official WLTP combined figure is 53.3mpg; after 336miles in my hands, the car’s info display showed fuel consumption of 53.6mpg; assuming its accuracy, well done! And that’s a useful range of 500miles and more.
The car’s interior is very impressive, with Mazda keeping well up with all its competitors in this respect; this is another aspect of car design now that has become a huge step forward: it’s not just the premium sector that offers what used to be one of its top-selling points.
A disappointment was the voice control system. Although Mazda has undoubtedly improved its infotainment user-friendliness, the test car was unable to understand my English, or at least the way I asked it, even when prompted. I gave up. This was a pity because any way of keeping eyes on the road rather than fiddling about with touch screens while on the move is, of course, important.
Nonetheless, as a family car, the Mazda3 GT Sport Tech, priced at £28,905, answers the question at the top and still gets a definite ‘yes!
Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.
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