Our Fleet Test Drive: Mazda 3 - FIRST REPORT
24 July 2014
Author: Jack Carfrae
To be blunt, Mazda didn't have much going for it in fleet until about 18 months ago. Yes, it's cars have always been good to drive, a genetic trait carried over from the delightful MX-5 sports car, but in terms of emissions, economy, whole-life costs - the things that float business car operators' boats - its range had fallen behind the times.
That changed in mid-2012 with the arrival of the CX-5, the company's completely new small 4x4. At
119g/km, it shot to the top of the class for emissions, a position it still holds, although it's now joint best with models including the Honda CR-V.
The same went for the upper medium 6 a few months later - it hit 104g/km with the same engine and enjoyed a stint as the cleanest in the class until the 99g/km Vauxhall Insignia (also a long-term test car of ours, see the next issue for an update) came along.
Most recently, it was the turn of the lower medium 3, which has just joined our long-term test fleet. New from the ground up, it looks like a squeezed version of the 6 and has the same 150hp 2.2-litre diesel engine that powers the CX-5 and the 6. Unlike its brethren, the 3's emissions of 107g/km (the four-door Fastback version drops 3g/km and one BIK down to 104g/km) aren't quite low enough to put it at the top of the class on figures alone, as class rivals such as the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and its Seat and Skoda derivatives can get well south of 100g/km.
The Mazda is still clean though, especially given that it's a 2.2 where the lowest-emitting versions of the aforementioned rivals are 1.6-litre units, and the company has made its position on CO2 versus power clear.
If you haven't already heard, the firm's Skyactiv] technology is the science behind all the lower emissions and is a series of measures designed to make internal combustion engines as clean and frugal as they can be, without throwing complicated electric or hybrid bits into the mix, while maintaining a decent slug of power and character so the cars appeal to enthusiasts.
Speaking as a car enthusiast and as one of BusinessCar's brigade of Mazda fans (three members of the editorial team currently own an MX-5 among other models from the marque, and I used to have one), I can confirm that it's a lot of fun to drive. There are heaps of mid-range pull and the handling is crisp, so I'm looking forward to the coming months.