Mazda has taken the slightly conservative Mazda3 and turned it into something sporty and exciting, writes Ian Strachan.
The latest Mazda3 is nicely styled, quick, handles well and is a pleasure to drive.
I test drove the sleek Mazda3 2.0 SE-L Nav Fastback, fitted with a gutsy 120 bhp 2.0 litre petrol engine which is responsive and flexible.
The engine came linked to Mazda’s pleasant six-speed manual gearbox. With this set-up the car has great mid range flexibility and is a very relaxed cruiser.
Mazda has also made the extensive model line-up more striking than its predecessor, with an aggressive front end and nicely-rounded lines.
Inside, the Mazda’s comfort credentials are reinforced with ultra-supportive heated seats which hold five adults without difficulty, with plenty of leg and headroom. The feel of the interior is of a much more expensive car than it actually is. You can also fold the rear seats down, which gives you a substantial load capacity.
The Mazda3 also scores high on safety, with a range of safety features. These include traction control, all-round airbags, stability control and active front head restraints.
The Mazda3 I tested had satellite navigation as standard. The equipment package also included electric heated door mirrors, automatic bi-xenon headlamps with automatic levelling, front fog lamps, remote central locking, all round electric windows, rear parking sensors, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, and a multi-media audio system with DAB radio and steering wheel controls.
The whole package comes at a reasonable £19,495 on the road. Fuel consumption in mixed driving is published at 55.4 miles to the gallon.
This is a nice alternative in the small family car sector, which deserves to do well.