Our Fleet Test Drive Review: Mazda 3 - 1st Report
10 July 2009
Author: Hugh Hunston
|Category:|| Lower medium|
|P11D price:|| £18,260|
|Key rival:|| Ford Focus|
Mazda has high fleet expectations for its new lighter, better screwed together and more aerodynamic, fuel-efficient and CO2-friendly 3.
The company aims to crank up the business car factor from the previous car's 25% of sales to 33%. To achieve its aims the 3 harnesses the platform that will underpin the next-generation Ford Focus while, in the 2.2-litre five-door Sport spec diesel form of our new arrival, undercutting the current Focus nearest equivalent, the 2.0-litre TDCi Zetec, by more than £1000. Despite its muscle, Mazda's 150PS unit also has a quoted 144g/km CO2 rating and 52mpg capability.
Function wins over form in the 3 Sport's muted charcoal cabin  and some senior Mazda European design staff agree it lacks the class and tactility of VW Group products, although driving refinement and low interior noise levels knock on the VW Golf's door.
Creature comforts extend to a dual climate control system, outstanding window-flexing Bose sound system, heated seats and invaluable Ford-derived heated windscreen demister.
Curiously, unlike its 150PS petrol counterpart it lacks satnav and rear parking sensors. Metallic paint, our only optional indulgence at £385, is also part of the petrol car's standard kit. That anomaly must relate to providing a competitive fleet-related P11D for the inherently more expensive diesel model.
Our striking red diesel hatchback, with a snout  not unlike Renault's Megane, is no poor relation in terms of driving dynamics and both this and the 185PS version are worthy of their Sport badges.
Once warmed up and with the first few miles of diesel intake chatter gone, the extra oomph encourages staying in higher gears longer and exploiting genuinely seamless power delivery from surprisingly low revs.
An initial computed 43.3mpg fuel consumption - although the computer says 46.2mpg - is well shy of the official claimed 52.3mpg figure, and the only issue to report is the brushed aluminium trimmed vents reflecting in the door mirrors  on bright sunny days.
|Mazda 3 2.2 diesel 150PS |
Sport 5-doors 6-speed manual
|Claimed combined |
|Our average |
|Model price range||£13,500 -£21,500|
|CO2 (tax) ||144g/km/19%|
|BIK 20/40% per month||£58/£116|
|Boot space (min/max)||300/1360 litres|
|Why we’re running it||Can it step up to its |
class mark like the 6?
|Positive||Strong street presence, |
refinement and performance
compared to petrol