De la Soul, ‘ 3 that’s the magic number. Yes it is, it’s the magic number ‘
In the flesh, the Mazda3 Fastback looks very much like the Mazda6 which is no bad thing being part Jag & part Aston depending on whether you’re looking at the back or the front. Get into the 3 & you are met by a simply laid out sweeping dashboard in quality soft touch plastics. The controls were easy to understand & again made of high quality stuff, although identically to the 6, the start button is somewhat hidden to the left of the steering wheel behind a stalk. The dashboard is dominated by the iPad style screen for Mazdas infotainment system, controlled by an easy to use dial located between the front seats . There are also steering wheel controls to engage the cruise control & toggle between the media functions as well. The 3 also comes with a Head-up display above the dial binnacle. This can be adjusted to suit the drivers height & can also be used with the systems SatNav technology to give the driver easy to see road instructions. Yo can also engage your mobile phone through the steering wheel with Mazdas improved Bluetooth connectivity which I found connected promptly.
The rest of the interior is nicely finished, although I would opt for the fabric or black leather seats over the light stone fitted to my test car. Equipment levels are high. Entry level models all come with air con, cruise, USB, electric mirrors, alloys & fog lights. My Sport Nav model added Mazdas lane warning system, high beam light control, rear adaptive monitoring, adaptive front lighting, front & rear parking sensors, a powered drivers seat, a digital speedo, the head-up display I’ve mentioned, a Bose surround sound system featuring AM/FM/single CD but strangely not DAB, & Mazdas SatNav 7″ TFT colour touch screen
Lift the boot & you have a useful 419 litres of space, which is actually more than in the hatchback version, although this is tempered with a shallow load area & high boot lip. The new model is longer than the old 3 & because of this offers excellent rear passenger space.
As the 3 was fitted with Mazdas brilliant 2.2 diesel engine, I found the light but long gear box positive on changes with the start/stop system working well at all times. Put your foot down & the engine purrs it’s way up to 60 mph before a hint of ‘dieselness’ intrudes. It also handles well, better than the Mazda6 actually due to it’s smaller dimensions. It’s particularly good on the motorway, quiet & unassuming really, around town easy to drive & on country roads is a blast with it’s acceleration making it almost GTi-like.
The real Kudos with the new Mazda range is with Mazdas SkyActiv, which has taken both the CX5 & the 6 forward in terms of technology, efficiency, dynamics & design. Indeed, as with the new 6, the 3 is lighter but bigger than the old model, with much improved emissions & with a 2.2 diesel unit still offers decent performance. My test model the 150 2.2 engine will reach 62 mph in 8 seconds, with a top speed of 132 mph, but on the combined offers 72.4 mpg with CO2 emissions of 104g/km. I averaged just over 50 mpg over my 7 days, which I think is rather good considering the sprightliness of the 2.2 engine- it’s much more engaging than any 1.6 TDi I’ve driven, many of which I’ve been lucky to get over 40 mpg over 7 days.
My only grievance with the Fastback, is that as part of a family of 4 + dog, I will always opt for the practicality of a family car over looks & would personally go for the Mazda3 hatchback as for me a booted car is a no no. Having said that, the saloon market is huge in North America & China & I’m sure that the Fastback version of the 3 will do well in both of these markets. In Europe, it will probably be outsold by the hatchback version.
In conclusion, if you want a small family saloon that practically mirrors both the looks of most larger saloons with almost as much interior space, but at a lower cost,look no further. The new Mazda3 Fastback is right at the top of the cars that you should consider. The 2.2 diesel engine is brilliant, it’s emissions & MPG figures are impressive too & with Mazda famed reliability & build quality it really is a no brainer.
Even if 3 is the magic number, CCV awards the Mazda3 Fastback 4 out of 5.