Mazda 3 Review The Mazda 3 is a bit of an unsung hero in the compact hatchback market.
While new models like the Vauxhall Astra and Renault Megane take the plaudits, the Mazda 3 is still an enjoyable car to drive with sharp looks, plenty of kit and low running costs.Improvements made to the Mazda 3 at the end of 2016 are small but worthwhile, and keen drivers will revel in the car's engaging handling. The updates gave the car a step up in refinement, so it's one of the quieter cars in the class. However, the car's firm ride is the price you pay for its involving handling, although that will be a small matter for enthusiastic drivers.Under the bonnet, the range of frugal and responsive petrol and diesel engines deliver great running costs, and we'd happily recommend the 3 to anybody who is looking for a change from the hatchback norm.The Mazda 3 is the Japanese car maker's compact hatchback, and it slots between the Mazda 2 and Mazda 6 in the range. The Mazda 3 is the successor to the 323 hatchback that appeared in the Mazda line up in the Eighties and Nineties, and the current car is the Mk3 model, which hit showrooms in 2013. In 2016 Mazda pulled the wraps off a facelifted model with fresher looks, an upgraded interior and tweaked mechanicals, changes that aim to push the stylish and sharp handling machine to the top of the class.There's a choice of hatchback and sleek four door Mazda 3 Fastback saloon the latter has marginally better economy and CO2 figures while both cars are available with two petrol engines and two diesels.The Mazda 3, benefits from Mazda's 'SkyActiv' weight saving technology. This focuses on fitting the right engine for the car's size, instead of turbocharging a smaller unit. The 3 went on a diet to save weight and help economy and emissions, too, and the fringe benefit is that the 3, like all of Mazda's cars, delivers nimble handling. In fact, the 3 is one of the best handling hatchbacks on sale.Four engines are available in the Mazda 3: a 2.0 litre petrol with either 119bhp or 163bhp, a 104bhp 1.5 litre diesel and a 2.2 litre diesel with 148bhp. The more powerful 2.0 litre petrol is only offered in Sport Nav trim, while the more powerful diesel doesn't come in base SE trim.Best family hatchbacks to buy nowWhile some car makers promote low emissions eco specials, there's no such option with the Mazda 3, although the 1.5D does dip below 100g/km. There's a straightforward choice of two gearboxes: a six speed manual or a six speed automatic, although you can't get the auto with the 1.5 litre diesel.Unfortunately, there's no high performance Mazda 3 hot hatchback to take advantage of the car's inherent sharp handling. Mazda used to produce a 3 MPS hot hatchback, but there no plans for a high performance version of the current car.The range is simple enough, comprising SE, SE Nav, SE L Nav and Sport Nav, but all models are pretty well equipped. Like other Far Eastern car makers, Mazda doesn't offer many optional extras. Instead, louis vuitton amazon japan you're expected to move up to the next trim level, and as a result Sport Nav cars are very well equipped, with kit such as a head louis vuitton alma epi electric up display, heated electric leather seats and a high end stereo all included, among other kit.Mazda 3 vs BMW 1 Series VW GolfThe Mazda 3 competes in the closely fought compact hatchback class, and is an alternative for models such as the VW Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus. It also competes against Japanese rivals such as the Honda Civic, Nissan Pulsar and Toyota Auris, the Far Eastern Kia Cee'd and Hyundai i30, plus other European rivals such as the Renault Megane, SEAT Leon and Peugeot 308. Top spec versions of the Mazda 3 could even be considered as an alternative to upmarket hatchbacks such as the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Lexus CT 200h.Mazda has offered a four door saloon version of the Mazda 3 in the past, and it's no different for the current model. Buyers who demand more carrying capacity from their 3 should definitely take a look at the Mazda 3 Fastback. It's essentially the same as the hatchback, but its elongated rear end means you get a larger 419 litre boot. It's a rival for models such as the Volkswagen Jettaand Audi A3 Saloon. There's no price premium for the Fastback, while it also has slightly lower emissions than the hatchback.Mazda has a reputation for producing cars that are good fun to drive. Much of this comes from its incredibly successful MX 5 roadster, which is the world's best selling sports car and widely renowned as one of the best cars to drive at any price.Even better is that a lot of the components and characteristics that make the MX 5 sports car so much fun tend to find their way into more conventional models, and the Mazda 3 is no exception. Thanks to itsagile handling and rev happy engine, the 3 has a surprising amount to offer for keen drivers, and it's a front runner for driving fun in the hatchback sector.Point the Mazda through a series of corners, and it's immediately obvious that it has been developed by the same firm that makes the MX 5 roadster. The steering is quick and naturally weighted, while the car gives the impression that all four tyres are sharing the cornering loads equally, helping to create a feeling of near perfect balance. Body control is also excellent, and the poised Mazda comfortably shrugs off mid corner bumps.Yet this agility on twisting roads doesn't come at the expense of comfort, as the 3 rides bumps with surprising suppleness. Even potholes and sharp ridges fail to upset the car's composure, especially in SE models on their modest 16 inch wheels wearing high profile tyres.2016 updates did little to change the driving experience, despite Mazda making a song and dance about its new 'G Vectoring' technology. Essentially, the system subtly adjusts torque delivery according to steering angle, with the intention of making weight transfer through corners smoother. Snappy, positive and benefiting from a relatively short throw, it adds an extra layer of driver involvement to the 3.The diesel is also extremely smooth, so much so that you wouldn't really know it's a diesel either on the move or when the engine is just ticking over. Even so Mazda felt the need to add a new sound louis vuitton leather wrap bracelet deadening device in the engine to reduce vibration for the 2016 facelift, while further tweaks subtly improved throttle response.The 2.0 litre 118bhp petrol engine is expected to be the biggest seller in the Mazda 3. It lacks the mid range punch of the diesel but it isn't far behind it in terms of acceleration you're looking at 0 62mph in 8.9 seconds for the hatchback and 8.8 seconds from the Fastback. You have to drive it a fair bit harder than the diesel to get the most out of it, though, louis vuitton bucket bag vintage and it can get unpleasantly noisy at high revs.There's also the option of a more powerful 163bhp version of the 2.0 litre petrol engine, which is almost as sprightly as the diesel with 0 62mph in 8.2 seconds, though it's only available with the hatchback.The 1.5 litre diesel is a tax efficient engine designed for fleet use. It didn't feel very quick in the smaller Mazda 2 supermini where it debuted, and it feels lethargic at times in the heavier 3.All the engines use Mazda's SkyActiv technology, which aims to make the cars more efficient through saving weight. Those savings translate into both stronger performance and better fuel economy: the current 3 is much lighter on its feet and far more economical than its predecessor and even that didn't handle badly.Surprisingly, Mazda hasn't sacrificed refinement for performance and handling, as is often the case with sportier cars. The 2.2 litre diesel is extremely quiet for such an engine and the 2.
0 litre petrol is similarly hushed and smooth.Wind noise is also very low, but there is a bit of tyre and road noise, especially if you opt for a Sport Nav model with larger wheels. As impressive as the Mazda 3 is in this area, it's got a way to go to have the Volkswagen Golf and the Audi A3 licked on refinement.
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