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Mazda 3: Test Drive Review

Date: 14 December 2011

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £19,095
Key rival: Ford Focus

Mazda is gearing up for the launch of its Skyactive fuel- and emissions-cutting measures, but in the meantime it's been honing the 3 hatchback.

You'll have to look very hard to spot the changes, as a mildly reshaped grille is the only obvious external clue. Sport models are now 30mm shorter overall due to a revised rear bumper, while retuned suspension improves the ride quality. The 3 has always erred on the firm side, but it now has a little more give to soak up the bumps while not relinquishing its fine cornering capability. Mazda says the steering and handling have also been uprated, but the improvements are marginal, and the outgoing model is hardly deficient in these areas.

Other small changes include revised material finishes to give a classier look and feel to the cabin, and a larger display screen for the optional satellite navigation, which is most welcome. Otherwise, the 3's spacious interior is as well made as you'd expect.

The most significant change is one you cannot see, as emissions of the fleet-friendly 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine drop from 117g/km to 115g/km. There's also an improvement in fuel economy to 65.7mpg combined, an increase of 2.5mpg over the old version.

There's also now the choice of a 1.6-litre Diesel Sport model that Mazda hopes will have considerable fleet appeal thanks to its 17-inch alloy wheels, heated sports seats, upgraded stereo and body kit.

The other engine changes include the 2.2-litre 147hp model goes from 144g/km to 139g/km, dropping from the 22% BIK bracket to 21%. The 182hp 2.2-litre diesel is down one band to 22% as emissions drop 5g/km to 144g/km. These may be small changes, but they help to keep the Mazda 3 in the upper half of the small hatchback sector, although it's not a serious threat to the VW Golf or Ford Focus.

Mazda 3 1.6 D Sport 5dr
Model price range£14,995-£23,395
Fuel consumption65.7mpg
CO2 (tax) 115g/km (13%)
Service interval12,500miles
Insurance (1-50)group tbc
Warranty3yrs/60,000 mls
Boot space340-1360 litres
Engine size/power1560cc/114hp
Top speed/0-62mph116mph/11.0secs
On sale January 2012
VerdictImproved economy and
emissions are welcome,
as is more supple ride,
but Mazda3 does
not worry the class best.


Improved economy and emissions are welcome, as is more supple ride, but Mazda3 does not worry the class best.