AM continues to pile on the miles with the Mazda3. A long weekend of driving to and from the world famous Somerset music festival which took place in June saw more than 500 miles added to the clock.
The experience highlighted one of the appealing characteristics of ‘the 3’ that can get lost in the focus on its sporting appeal with its powerful engine and sub-10 second 0-62mph figure and that is the fact it is a very capable long-distance workhorse.
It proved a capable and comfortable carrier of three people and their baggage over motorways and country B-roads with no loss of handling and no discernible loss of performance.
I came nowhere near the manufacturer combined mpg rate of 52.3mpg, but rather a consistent 45.8mpg – still creditable for a Sport model.
It’s this characteristic which has not been lost of fleet users: demand in the corporate sector has reportedly soared this year thanks largely to a new 1.6 diesel with sub-120g/km CO2 emissions. Unit sales for the range have doubled year-on-year, largely through conquest sales from other brands.
A comparison of the Mazda3 against rivals such as the Golf GTD and Ford Focus 2.0 TDCi Zetec S sees it stand up well with the lowest on-the-road price, low insurance group, healthy spec sheet and residual values.
I have had issues in years past with the interior quality of Mazda3s, learning from experience of a previous long-termer how quickly the fascia looked worn through everyday use.
Soft feel plastic, like that found in the Volkswagen Golf GTD, now helps maintain the look, but not in the centre console which is soon covered in finger marks.
The Mazda3 is a solid, enjoyable, good-looking and well-equipped car, which we like very much indeed - especially in top-whack trim with this particular engine; the 2.2-litre diesel is quiet, powerful and cheap to run.
It’s stylish, well-built, economical and fun to drive. We’d go as far as to say that the Mazda3 is as good as anything in its class.