Mazda3 review

But why? The Mazda3 is possibly one of the most underrated cars in the sector. It has great build quality and driver appeal while it is one of the more stylish small family hatchbacks in the sector.

[YouTube:BKd6YFCBIJY:BlockCentre:New Mazda3 review and test drive 2013]

Another string to the Mazda3’s bow is that it’s based on of the most popular cars in the UK – Ford’s Focus. The 3 shares its underpinning with the previous generation Focus and you can tell as the 3 is a lot of fun to drive.

Thanks to Start/Stop technology the Mazda3 makes good business sense as a company car as well as an impressive small family hatchback.

Read on to find out why you shouldn’t discount the Mazda3.

Exterior

The Mazda3 received a mid-life facelift in 2012. The surgery was minor and included a narrower, softer grille at the front featuring the new Mazda face while the rear bumper was given a new design making the boot more accessible.

Interior

On the inside the Mazda designers have been hard at work. The plastics are now less plasticky and are made of better materials while the cabin looks a lot more stylish than it was.

Previous trim monikers including S, TS, TS2 and Sport have all been replaced by Tamura, Venture and Sport Nav models. Even the entry-level Tamura trim comes well equipped with standard kit including dual-zone climate control, all round electric windows, front fog lights and heated door mirrors.

Up front the seats have been redesigned and add to the enhanced levels of comfort. Road, tyre and wind noise are all minimal making the cabin of the Mazda 3 a pleasant place to spend time in.

Comfort on board is relatively high. Four adults can fit in easily and you could get five in at a push but if you are going to squeeze five adults in then keep the journey relatively short.

The 3 has an average sized boot. With the rear seats in place there is a load space of 340 litres and if you fold them flat this expands to 1,360 litres. There is also a good range of cubbies, the glove compartment is surprisingly deep and there is also a useful amount of storage space in the central front arm rest.

On the road

There is plenty of choice when looking at the Mazda3 range. Three of the engines from the previous Mazda3 are carried over and there is also one diesel engine with two power outputs. The 150bhp version will accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds, while the higher powered 185bhp engine will complete the same sprint in 8.2 seconds.

If petrol is more your thing then the base 1.6-litre produces 105bhp and can complete the benchmark sprint in 12.2 seconds. While the 110bhp 1.6-litre diesel is over a second quicker, taking just 11 seconds to cover the benchmark sprint. Both engines come with five-speed manual gearboxes. The only automatic transmission available at launch was a five-speed transmission offered with the 2.0-litre petrol engine.

The other 2.0-litre petrol is the Sport model with a revised engine that’s fitted with a system called i-stop. This means it will automatically switches off the engine whenever the car is stationary (and in neutral), it’s just another name for Start/Stop technology.

On single lane carriageways the 3 is engaging to drive but it still lacks a little of the Ford Focus’ sharpness. Take the 3 on the motorways and you’ll be impressed by the ride comfort, the 3 is refined making long journeys a breeze.

Overview

The Mazda3 may not be best in class for performance or handling, however, it mixes fun with grown-up driving and easily munches motorway miles. Priced competitively the 3 offers low running costs and a high level of standard equipment even on the entry-level car. The facelifted 3 is more stylish, it’s robust and should definitely feature on your list when choosing a small family hatchback.

You can test drive or purchase the Mazda3 now at Perrys Mazda Dealerships found in Barnsley, Blackburn, Huddersfield, Portsmouth and Preston.