You see, the problem from a journalistic point of view is that the car does everything perfectly well. The Mazda3 TS2 is so middle of the road and non-offensive, it leaves very little to work with.
That’s not to say that it’s bland. Externally, our long-termer’s combination of styling, Velocity Red paint and alloys, refreshingly differentiates the car from the hordes of ‘me-too’ rep-mobiles finished in ubiquitous silver.
Inside, the distinctive styling cues continue, but never at the expense of practicality. Layout and ergonomics are also very good. Engine, suspension and gearbox, again, are all very nice, really. So if a car fails to inspire superlatives, is it automatically a failure? Not at all, is the answer, certainly in this sector at least.
If the foundations of the Mazda3 are ones of reliability, comfort, hassle-free ownership, plus looks that set it apart from many of its competitors, it surely can’t be a bad thing. Certainly sales reflect this.
Mazda’s total UK sales last year was 46,801 units, with Mazda3 being the most popular model, selling 15,100 units (a 2.7% segment share).
With 6,189 miles on the clock, the 1.6 diesel unit is wearing in nicely. It routinely turns in 40mpg+, and only rarely feels underpowered. Motorway cruising is relaxed, too, thanks to a leisurely 2,000rpm shown at 70mph.
Perhaps the most fitting accolade we can give our long-term test Mazda, is that it is universally liked by everyone on the AM team. No matter what prestige brand we may have been driving recently, when it’s time to get back behind the wheel of the faithful TS2, it feels like you’re coming home.
Engine: 1.6-litre, 16V, common rail turbodiesel; 107bhp @ 4,000rpm; 177lb ft @ 1,750rpm
Performance: 0-62mph: 11.5sec; top speed: 113mph
Transmission: Five-speed manual, fwd
Test Period: October-March
Start mileage: 1,442
Mileage now: 6,189
Efficiency: 39mpg (combined); 135g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr/30k: £6,175 (40%)
CAP RV 3yr/60k: £5,350 (34%)
Likes: Practical, versatile
Dislikes: None of note