Category: Upper medium Price: £11,000-£15,850
On sale: August Key rival: Ford Focus

If ever a car’s mid-life revisions were aimed at company drivers, the Mazda 3 is it. The Japanese firm has concentrated its efforts on improving economy and reducing CO2 output, which are hardly sexy topics but are dear to business users’ wallets.

There are some minor styling tweaks, but most work has gone into the engines and chassis of the Mazda 3. The biggest changes to the engine line-up are for the 1.4- and 2.0-litre petrol units. This is a success for the smaller engine, but the 2.0-litre remains harsh.

The diesel range still consists of 89 and 107PS versions of Mazda’s 1.6-litre turbodiesel, though the less powerful of this pair is the only engine in the new Mazda 3 not to improve on economy or emissions figures. Mazda is not unduly concerned with this as the more potent turbodiesel is the better seller.


However, the biggest selling engine in the Mazda 3 is the 1.6-litre petrol unit, which doesn’t benefit from the revisions applied to its sister engines. Despite this, the 1.6’s combined economy is improved to 40.9mpg from its predecessor’s 39.2mpg in the five-door hatch model, thanks to improved aerodynamics. Emissions are also down from 172 to 162g/km, bring the 1.6-litre hatch into the 19% BIK bracket. That’s comparable to the equivalent 1.6 Ford Focus or Renault Megane.

Mazda says it has been working hard on the 3 to get on terms with such rivals, not just on economy and emissions but also for refinement and comfort. Our experience of the revised 3 says that refinement is marginally better thanks to more insulation under the bonnet, but road noise remains a problem every time the Mazda 3’s tyres rumble over an indent in the road surface.

One thing Mazda has not made more frugal is the price of the 3. A 1.6-litre TS five-door hatch now costs £13,300, which is an increase of £350, though company drivers will see the difference in tax payments cancelled out by the engine’s lower emissions.