Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt Our Fleet Test Drive Review: Mazda 3 - Final Report
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Our Fleet Test Drive Review: Mazda 3 - Final Report

Date: 13 July 2010   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £18,260
Key rival: Ford Focus

After one year and 8200 miles our departing Mazda 3 hatchback has graduated with honours from that particularly hard school, the lower medium sector.

The fire engine red, second-generation 3, powered by a 150hp version of Mazda's muscular 2.2-litre diesel engine, is not, at 144g/km, the range's lowest CO2 example, but the extra performance it offers doesn't do drastic damage to economy. The 3 returned a more than acceptable, consistent 45.0mpg average, which was at odds with the trip computer's over-optimistic 50.9mpg final readout [1].

Refreshingly different from its lower medium classmates - the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra - our Sport-spec 3 came with appropriate body kit plus Smart but not ostentatious 17-inch alloys. Perhaps the heavily sculpted rear end is a bit ungainly, but its overhang contributed to a capacious 1360 litres of room [2].

The Mazda 3's cabin lacked the class of the Golf, with sombre, dark surfaces and aluminium-effect insets. But at night the blue and red dials transformed the interior, and the pulsing, volume-related, blue strips across the sound system controls never lost their feel-good novelty value [3].

For a £19,040 P11D price, the list of standard kit was comprehensive, if not lavish, and included cruise control, electrically folding mirrors, automatic headlight and wiper sensors, Bluetooth links and a handy remote lock-activating system, incorporating front door and boot release buttons. I would have gladly swapped rear privacy glass for parking sensors, but the excellent heated de-icing and de-misting front screen was non-negotiable.

Meanwhile, the car's sports settings gave it a driving tactility and responsiveness above or on a par with most rivals, although the six-speed gearbox was a tad baulky on cold mornings.

Dependable, totally reliable and rewarding to drive, the Mazda 3 had few irksome foibles. One was the filler cap release lurking beside the driver's doorsill, which regularly caught shoes or trouser hems when as people clambered out, which flipped up the fuel cap. However, generally, annoying features or shortcomings were conspicuous by their absence.

Finally, as the totally reliable period with the 3 drew to a close, there seemed to be a growing number appearing on the roads. Something of a slow burner, then, if definitely not a slow oil burner.

Mazda 3 2.2d 150PS Sport 5-door manual
Claimed combined
Our average consumption45.0mpg
P11D price£19,040
Model price range£14,230-£22,595
CO2 (tax) 144g/km/20%
BIK 20/40% per month£63/£127
Service interval12,500mls
Insurancegroup 10E
Boot space (min/max)300/1360 litres
Engine size/power2184cc/150PS
Top speed/0-62mph127mph/9.2secs
Why we’re running itCan it step up to its
class mark like the 6?
PositiveStreet presence,
refinement, performance
NegativeSpec compared to
petrol equivalent