Economical, practical, and great fun to drive. A genuine competitor for the usual suspects.
SE-L Nav SKYACTIV-D 2.2-litre 150ps Manual
Mazda has had a slightly tired range of cars available over recent years, but the well received CX-5 SUV started a process of re-invigorating the brand and the excellent Mazda6 soon followed.
Now it’s time for Mazda to throw everything it has in to the ring with the new Mazda3, the car that has to take the fight to the diverse likes of the Hyundai i30, Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3.
It’s an attractive proposition, not least due to the flowing curves combined with sharp creases. Like the new Mazda6 it embraces Mazda’s ‘Kodo’ design language fully, ending up looking cutting-edge whichever body style you choose. The practical and undoubtedly the most popular five door hatchback is now joined by a sleeker ‘fastback’ that extends the body slightly.
The interior marks another step up, with a distinctive instrument binnacle ahead and a clear and uncluttered centre console surrounded by a piano black finish that adds a little class.
There’s plenty of space for those with wide shoulders or long legs in both the front and rear, but the lower roofline and oddly high seating position robs you of headroom.
It’s what’s underneath the bonnet that is the biggest talking point though, with a large 2.2 litre twin turbo diesel engine sounding like it’s far too much engine for the car. However, by opting for an unstrained larger capacity engine, Mazda have been able to make it as light as any 2.0 litre unit while generating a little more power and torque than you would reasonably expect.
The 150PS on offer is enough to sprint to 60mph in just 8.1 seconds, nearly as quick as a Golf GTD while beating it on fuel economy. Officially the Mazda3 will hit 68.9mpg, although thanks to 90+mph winds I was unable to get any meaningful results during my time with the car.
A CO2 figure of just 107g/km is extremely competitive too, resulting in a company car tax rate of just 16% and VED (road tax) of £20 a year.
- Stylish design attracts attention
- Diesel economy and performance exceptionally good
- Plenty of passenger space
- Simple and effective interior design
- Decent equipment levels across the entire range
- Handling is predictable and engaging with plenty of grip
- Low price point combined with low CO2 means low company car tax bills
- Some material quality issues inside
- Minor dials not particularly easy to read
- Infotainment controls can be tricky to work out
- Pop-up heads-up display prone to damage
- Headroom is a bit tight across the range
- Ride quality can be a little rough on broken surfaces
- Shallow boot
Business Car Manager Verdict
For an enthusiast business car driver, the Mazda3 ticks plenty of boxes.
There’s a combination of entertaining performance levels with engaging handling that makes it a joy to drive. For everybody else, the practicality and economy on offer will be a big draw, with the Mazda3 being as capable as any of its compact hatch style rivals.
The fact it’s a stylish proposition that undercuts its rivals on price just adds to that appeal.
For the business buyer, the low company car tax rates combined with a relatively low price tag could be enough to move a few away from the ubiquitous German options.
The decision from Mazda to go with a right-size-not-down-size 2.2 litre diesel engine has paid dividends in all areas, with the Japanese firm using its fuel-saving SkyActiv technologies to the fullest, from the KERS-like i-ELOOP battery system to the lower compression ratio in the engine.
Source: business car manager