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The Golf-sized Mazda3 follows the wholly re-designed Mazda6. You can choose from hatchback or saloon (red in our pix, and called fastback by Mazda) versions

What is it?

SE-L Nav SKYACTIV-D 2.2-litre 150ps Manual

Mazda has had a slightly tired range of cars available over recent years, but the well received CX-5 SUV started a process of re-invigorating the brand and the excellent Mazda6 soon followed.

Now it’s time for Mazda to throw everything it has in to the ring with the new Mazda3, the car that has to take the fight to the diverse likes of the Hyundai i30, Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3.

We tried a pre-production model back in the summer (click here to read the review). Now we’ve driven the finished car, and in the form we think is best suited to company car drivers.

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Saloons in this territory often look a bit frumpy; not so the Mazda3 which if anything looks better than the hatch

It’s an attractive proposition, not least due to the flowing curves combined with sharp creases. Like the new Mazda6 (you car read our review of the Mazda6 hereit embraces Mazda’s ‘Kodo’ design language fully, ending up looking cutting-edge whichever body style you choose. The practical and undoubtedly the most popular five door hatchback is now joined by a sleeker ‘fastback’ that extends the body slightly.

The interior marks another step up, with a distinctive instrument binnacle ahead and a clear and uncluttered centre console surrounded by a piano black finish that adds a little class. 

There’s plenty of space for those with wide shoulders or long legs in both the front and rear, but the lower roofline and oddly high seating position robs you of headroom.

It’s what’s underneath the bonnet that is the biggest talking point though, with a large 2.2 litre twin turbo diesel engine sounding like it’s far too much engine for the car. However, by opting for an unstrained larger capacity engine, Mazda have been able to make it as light as any 2.0 litre unit while generating a little more power and torque than you would reasonably expect.

The 150PS on offer is enough to sprint to 60mph in just 8.1 seconds, nearly as quick as a Golf GTD while beating it on fuel economy. Officially the Mazda3 will hit 68.9mpg, although thanks to 90+mph winds I was unable to get any meaningful results during my time with the car.

A CO2 figure of just 107g/km is extremely competitive too, resulting in a company car tax rate of just 16% and VED (road tax) of £20 a year.

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The 2.2 litre diesel sounds big for a car of this size, but as well as great performance it delivers a very competitive company car tax rate of 16%

 

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