- We like...Super-quiet diesel
- We don't...Cabin space is only so-so
Curvy new hatchback from Mazda breaks the style mould. But is it good all-round or more show than go? Find out hereMazda likes to do things differently. Rather than slot a 2.0 litre diesel into its newly reworked 3, it trumps the competition by dropping in a 2.2. Most other cars at same-ish money pack a 2.0 motor that’ll deliver less oomph. In the 3, though, you can choose between 148bhp or 182. And here we’re with the more modest of the two.
Still, it’s a cracker. You’ll catch sound of its diesel clatter only on start-up but for the rest it’s quiet and velvety, snapping zestily through its six-speed gearbox. It you want seriously quick it will give it, but is best is gained by easing back – just a notch – and riding its easy bursts of low-revs urge. Given all that, its best overall of 52mpg and its 144g/km of exhaust gases are fair enough.
And show it a string of bends and the car'll come alive, staying flat and level and placing itself pinpoint where you wish it to be. Plenty of cars wear ‘Sport’ badging but this is one of the few that deserves it. Don’t go thinking, though, that this’ll ride as a hard-edged performance special. It’s firm but there’s enough ‘squidge’ in its settings to keep passengers settled – Mazda has struck a good balance. And so it should, because underneath it shares design and engineering with Ford’s Focus – which, for our money, is the best-driving, best-riding car of its type.
The new swoopy flanks, front and likes take inspiration from Mazda’s performance coupe, the RX8, and adapt well to the hatchback shape, though the car’s dark cabin and rising window-line make back-seat passengers feel hemmed in. There’s enough room for people in the front and back even if it ranks only as ‘average’ among rivals, while the boot is mid-sized (smaller than a Volkswagen Golf’s) and a good, usable shape.
The previous 3 ranks high in customer satisfaction polls and reliability surveys and, true to form, this one looks and feels to be carefully put together. The interior is plain but stylish and only minor items like the lidded storage box between the seats appear cheap. The dash is sculpted and looks well in its squashy plastic covering. Equipment levels are high. This car is priced against a mid-trim Ford Focus but gives more for your cash: climate controlled air conditioning, heated front seats and auto-on lights and wipers come as standard.
Ownership costs promise to be sensible, while depreciation – the difference between what you pay new and what you get back come trade-in time – is bearable, if no match for a VW Golf, one of the class’s star performers.
Should you buy one? Why not. Its looks bring freshness where too many of its rivals have a samey look to them. That engine is the smoothest of its sort we can remember and it’s quick but very quiet.
Top all that off with Mazda’s reputation for making long runners and there’s much to like and little to object to.
To read the motors.co.uk verdict on the previous Mazda 3 - and watch our video, click here
To view and buy new and second-hand Mazda 3s on motors.co.uk, click here
- Engines2.2 turbodiesel
- 0-60 mph9.2secs
- Insurance groups10E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: