Mazda3 2 litre 120ps SE-L Nav
Mazdas renaissance continues with the Mazda3 hatchback the latest Mazda model to worm it’s way up to CCV Towers in September. I had driven the Fastback version in 2013 but really wanted to have a go in the hatch back because to all intense & purpose, it’s shape fits better with our family having a dog.
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 & fell easily to hand, although 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. You 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 & Mazda customers will benefit from high equipment levels. The 3 was also awarded a five-star rating in the Euro NCAP tests. All models get six airbags, stability control and low-speed collision avoidance as standard. L Entry level models all come with air con, cruise, USB, electric mirrors, alloys & fog lights. My SE-L Nav model was added to with some nice extras including, rear parking sensors, Mazdas navigation system, cruise control with speed limiter, dual zone climate control, rain sensing front wipers, dusk sensing lights, bi-xenon headlights with automatic leveling & cleaning, LED daytime running lights, front fog lights, LED rear lights & privacy glass. On the plus side, there’s lots of storage in the Mazda, including deep door bins, a lidded cubby between the front seats and a large, air-conditioned glovebox.
As the 3 I was testing was fitted with Mazdas 2 litre petrol engine, rather than the fleet favourite 2.2 diesel engine, it was interesting to see just how good or bad the SkyActiv technology was in the petrol version. As with the new 6 the 3 is lighter but bigger than the old model, with much improved emissions & with the 120 ps petrol unit, still offers decent performance. It also handles well. It’s particularly good on the motorway, quiet & unassuming really, whilst around town easy to drive with the Mazda i-stop system performing well. The petrol engine doesn’t really kick in unlike on a diesel, until you hit the higher revs, so it may seem slower than actually is. A real bonus is the fantastically smooth manual six-speed gear box which makes for smooth & precise gear changes.
My test model will reach 62 mph in 8.9 seconds, with a top speed of 121 mph, but on the combined offers 55.4 mpg with CO2 emissions of 119g/km. I averaged just over 41 mpg over my 7 days, driving a combined 650 miles. As the diesel Mazda3 I drove only just broke 50 mpg, I think that the petrol version which is cheaper performed very well & would be well worth a look if your business mileage was 8000 miles or less per annum.
Although the Mazda3 Fastback is probably a better looking car & comes with a slightly larger boot, it is not as practical & with owning a dog, I would personally go for the Mazda3 hatchback. The hatchback is also easier to load & unload than the Fastback & you can get larger more bulky objects in it. As far as passenger comfort goes, both front seat passengers get good head & legroom & although the rear seats will take three adults, it doesn’t feel as spacious in the rear as for example, the Peugeot 308.
In conclusion, the Mazda3 hatch fitted with the petrol engine is pretty impressive & beats most of the competition comfortably. However, the Mazda3 fitted with the 2.2 diesel engine is to my mind a much more enjoyable car to drive & will save you money when you stop to fill up.
So it’s a bronze medal for the Mazda3 petrol. 3.5/5.