We’ve welcomed another family hatchback to AM’s long-term test fleet, a new Mazda3.
The car we’ll be running for the next 12 months is a five-door hatchback with a 118bhp Skyactiv-G petrol engine under the bonnet. Although we’ve experienced Skyactiv turbodiesel technology in Mazda CX-5 and Mazda6 long-term test cars previously, we had not tried the naturally aspirated petrol alternative that Mazda added to its line-up in early 2014.
The official figures of 55.1mpg combined fuel economy and 0-62mph in under nine seconds look promising, and we’ll report how close the car can come in real life use in future reports. Mazda claims its Skyactiv technology, which includes lightweight construction, low friction and high compression ratios, is among the most efficient for real-world fuel economy.
Our car is in range-topping Sport Nav trim. In this guise it comes with premium-level features such as dual zone climate control, cruise control, auto wipers and lights, keyless entry and start, integrated Bluetooth with voice controls, 7in colour multimedia screen and Bose surround sound system and navigation with three years of updates.
Externally, it is distinguished from lesser models by 18in alloys, foglamps, adaptive front bi-xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights and rear lights and dual chrome exhausts.
Optional extras are leather upholstery (£1,000), jet black mica paint (£540) and a safety pack (£700) comprising rear vehicle monitoring – Mazda’s jargon for blind spot assistance – plus a lane departure warning system and high beam control that automatically dips the headlights when vehicles are approaching.
With such high levels of standard equipment, the Sport Nav is designed to suit the company car user-chooser and to also appeal to small families as a main car. Mazda UK is currently marketing the Mazda3 in entry-level SE guise on a 0% APR personal contract purchase with 42 monthly payments of £277 and an optional final payment of £6,317, while this Sport Nav is offered for £320 per month and a £7,416 optional final payment to keep the car.
In the September plate-change campaign, the Mazda3 was the Japanese brand’s best seller in the UK, with 2,146 registrations. That took Mazda UK’s total sales of the Mazda3 this year to 7,428 units, almost a quarter of the brand’s year to date registrations, and 59% up on sales of the previous model last year.
Mazda dealers certainly seem buoyed by the success of the Mazda3. Last month’s publication of the latest NFDA Dealer Attitude Survey revealed Mazda achieved a score of 7.9 points out of a maximum of 10 for franchisee satisfaction, above the 7.1 point average and ahead of rival mainstream brands Ford, Nissan and Volkswagen.
The Mazda3 isn’t far adrift from the best in class. It’s stylish, good to drive, well equipped and relatively cheap to buy and run.
The 3 hatchback is one of the best of the bunch, feeling more fun to drive than a Ford Focus or VW Golf and more than a match for other family favourites like the Vauxhall Astra and Kia Cee’d.