Mazda3 GT Sport, the best in the family hatchback class?

In Car Reviews, Mazda by Neil Lyndon

There may come a point in your life at which you simply have to give in and say “Yes, I am a Mazda man”.

That moment arrived for me with the updated two-litre 186 bhp Mazda3 GT Sport hatchback which was with us on loan recently.

In my long life, I have been enamoured of a succession of manufacturers to such an extent that they felt like an extension of my personality and identity. Maserati was one of the first when I was a lad in the 1950s; VW succeeded to the throne after the first GTI came out in the 1970s; then it was Honda after the first NS-X in the 1990s. For the last few decades, my favourite car has been the Mazda MX-5 (see my review); but I never realised until now that the brand, as a whole, matches so closely with something in my innermost being that I could easily buy nothing but a Mazda for the rest of my car-owning life.

In part, it’s their independent thinking that I admire. For example, while the rest of the car world was stampeding into the electric corral, Mazda’s engineers took a long, hard look at the emissions problem and concluded that they could do more for the planet by improving the efficiency of their internal combustion engines. That kind of sturdy chutzpah is second nature to Mazda. “You go your way,” they say to the world. “We’ll go ours.”

Then there’s the depth of quality in their products. I’ve got a friend who runs a highly-profitable business which specialises in fixing out-of-warranty cars. Land Rover products are “a gold mine”, he chuckles, because they have been so poorly put together; but if he had to depend on a supply of Mazdas, he’d starve. “They almost never go wrong,” he says.

Our Mazda3 test car seemed to embody all of these virtues. Simple, stylish good looks with a touch of menace accentuated by black 18” alloy wheels and tinted rear windows; fabulous finish; beautiful, minimalist interior with excellent ergonomics; capacious load-carrying; peppy performance (0-60mph in under eight seconds); light, agile driving dynamics – what more can you ask for £29225?

Is it the best in the family hatchback class? Better than Ford’s Focus or VW’s Golf? It’s a tough question but, if I were putting down my own money, I’d go for the Mazda.

But that’s probably a declaration of prejudice because, as I have recently realised, this is a Mazda man talking.

Author Rating 4.5 / 5

Car reviewed: Mazda3 186ps GT Sport

on the road price £28,655 as tested £29,225

  • 0-62mph 8.1secs
  • Top speed 134mph
  • Engine 2.0 e-Skyactiv X Petrol / Mazda M Hybrid
  • Fuel Economy WLTP Combined 53.3mpg
  • Max Power 186ps@6000rpm
  • Torque 240Nm@4000rpm
  • Dimensions MM 4460 L/1795 W/1435 H
  • CO2 emissions 121g/km
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Bootspace 401 / 1022 1itres (seats folded)

Neil Lyndon

Motoring Correspondent

Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK’s national stage for 40 years, writing for every “quality” newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 – the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.

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