Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt Our Fleet Test Drive: Mazda 3 - final report
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Our Fleet Test Drive: Mazda 3 - final report

Date: 12 March 2015   |   Author: Hugh Hunston

Equipment: 6 airbags, dual-zone climate control, auto lights, wipers and dipping mirror, rear privacy glass, cruise control, rear parking sensors, heated front seats, satellite navigation, front fog lights, smart city brake intervention, voice activation.
Options: Metallic paint £540

Since Ford offloaded its controlling share and technical influence in Mazda, the Japan-based brand has embodied the "defy convention" corporate mantra, as typified by the third-generation 3 hatchback that has been an able companion during the past year.

Our enduring impression over nearly 11,000 miles with the 3 was one of integrated design and execution. Unlike its predecessors, this car has road presence and an ergonomically effective interior, with improved quality materials and nicely weighted switchgear.

But the cabin threw up some criticisms, such as the infotainment screen, which cannot be retracted, and the lack of a DAB radio; however, retention of a CD player was a boon. Some non-intuitive operational issues took time to resolve (although dealer sales exec Robert Fox from Bath's Lansdown Mazda highlighted that I could use a voice-activated command to render the screen dark and less distracting at night). The satnav system also had something of a problem accepting seven-digit postcodes.

The only technical hitch, which drained battery power overnight, was partially self-inflicted. It involved the stop-start system, in parked stop mode, leaving the ignition on when I forgot to lock the 3 and prompt a warning beeper, meaning I was oblivious to the problem.

Being engineered originally for its domestic, Japanese, right-hand drive market brings benefits to UK fleet drivers, who sometimes suffer from that not being the default application in cars built in continental factories, whatever their badges.

 As a result, the way the pedals are positioned, and how the clutch, brake and accelerator combine precisely, makes a pleasant difference at lower and higher speeds. It's a pity the Toyo tyres (3) generated a disappointing, surface-sensitive road noise level.

Mazda's Skyactiv technology pares off vehicle weight and ups efficiency to produce a CO2 rating of 107g/km and a competitive fuel consumption for the 150hp 2.2-litre diesel engine that's not far away from lower-capacity rivals.

However, while the extra muscle may be an indulgent pleasure for the 25% of 3 sales that go to businesses, the lower emissions and BIK bands enjoyed by rival VW Group and Ford rivals mean that Mazda's fleet department is relishing a 105hp 1.5-litre diesel counterpart with a likely sub-100g/km capability. Expect it with a model year change later this year.

Hopefully, the smaller unit will pull the updated 3 closer relatively to official fuel consumption figures than we managed: our 52.3mpg average was 16.6mpg adrift of an official 68.9mpg.

But put issues such as that aside and the car was a powerful, refined, well equipped alternative in the frantically competitive lower medium hatchback battleground.

Mazda 3 2.2 150 hatch SE-L Nav

Mileage                                                               10,948
Official consumption                                         68.9mpg
Our average consumption                                52.3mpg
Forecast/actual CPM                                   48.6p/49.7p
P11D price                                                         £21,690
Model price range                              £16,995 - £23,345
Residual value                                                      34.2%
Depreciation                                                       £14,265
Fuel                                                                       £4502
Service, maintenance and repair                           £2216
Vehicle Excise Duty                                                   £40
National insurance                                                 £1616
CO2 (BIK band)                                      107g/km (17%)
BIK 20/40% per month                                      £61/£123


  • Handsome, well made with strong power/economy trade-off
  • Intrusive tyre noise and no DAB radio to drown it out