With an emphasis firmly on sporting appeal, our 2.2 Sport diesel is arguably the best-looking model in the Mazda3 range – offering plenty of road presence without ramming its performance credentials down your throat like the bonnet scoop-wearing MPS.
And the slightly understated sports appearance suits the 2.2 diesel perfectly, as it offers an admirable mix of performance and refinement.
With an official combined fuel economy of 52.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 144g/km, the more financially-aware Mazda3 buyer may opt for the cheaper 1.6 TS2 diesel, which delivers 62.8mpg and 119g/km – qualifying for £35 annual VED.
However, many will decide that the extra £1,500 needed for the 2.2D is worth it – and I, for one, wouldn’t argue with them.
Running costs are inevitably higher than for the 1.6 diesel, including annual VED of £125.
But, as well as an extra 40bhp – taking it up to 148bhp – the £1,500 premium also includes an upgrade to 17-inch wheels, heated front seats, a six-speed gearbox, sports seats and side skirts.
The 2.2 diesel is also available in Sport Nav trim which, for a further £700, features an integrated satellite navigation system.
This premium will be harder for customers to justify than the move up to the 2.2 diesel, as the screen is set right back in the centre of the dash and measures just 3x2 inches – making it difficult to read at a glance.
Our sister magazine Fleet News has been running a 1.6 TS2 Nav diesel on a long-term test and its driver has struggled with the size of the screen – saying he would need ‘the eyesight of a bird of prey’ to focus on it.
So much so that he has decided not to use the integrated system, but rely on an alternative sat-nav instead.
The Consumer View
There’s nothing substantially wrong with this model, but at the same time, it does nothing to tempt us away from the 1.6-litre models that are cheaper to buy and run.
Packed with plenty of power, performance and top notch specifications it’s clear to see why the Mazda3 still displays its “zoom-zoom” slogan with pride.