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Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
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PROS

  • Distinctive looks
  • Neat interior design
  • Good to drive

CONS

  • No small diesel
  • Rivals more practical
  • Lacks some sparkle

Verdict

The outgoing Mazda 3 hatchback accounts for a third of the brand’s global sales, the previous generations having found over 3.5 million homes, but the striking looks of the all-new model could improve upon the already impressive stat. There’s even a sleek new fastback (saloon) to choose from too, though we’re not sure of the booted car’s merit in hatchback orientated UK. Blame the 3’s world-car aspirations for that.

Mazda makes great play of what it calls ‘SkyActiv’ technology, which in layman’s terms means that the engines, gearboxes, bodywork and chassis have been made using ultra-lightweight materials and innovative construction methods. These weight-saving measures have been designed into the Mazda3 from the outset and are there to improve the way it drives and increase efficiency.

Certainly CO2 emissions are low in comparison to immediate rivals, and the diesel 3 in particular makes a sound company car choice.

Glamorous exterior, functional interior

Designed with Mazda’s ‘Kodo’ brand identity in mind, the curvaceous new hatchback bears a strong family resemblance to the CX-5 small 4x4 and larger Mazda 6 range of saloons and estates and there’s no doubt it’s one of the most distinctive family cars on the market.

It’s certainly the boldest interpretation of the family look yet, with a deep front grille, curved wings and scalloped bodywork along the sides. Although it looks daring, we’re not yet fully convinced of its longevity – especially around the elongated nose.

Inside it’s rather more plain, though quickly recognisable to any Mazda cognoscenti. Shades of the CX-5 and 6 cabin are present, though there’s a distinctive and easy to read instrument cluster and tablet style touchscreen sat-nav for those so equipped. Otherwise materials are robust and feel of high quality.

The firm claims the cabin has liberated more space for occupants than in the previous car, with class leading shoulder room but we found the rear bench a tad tighter than some of its rivals for legroom especially. We’d also like to see a larger boot in the hatchback, that while lengthy is a touch on the shallow side.

Engine choice of three petrols and one diesel

From launch, the new Mazda3 range consists of three petrol engines and one diesel, all equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard – though a six-speed automatic is an option.

Kicking off the range is the 1.5-litre petrol engine producing 99bhp at 6,000 rpm and 150Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Mazda says it will average 55mpg and emit 119g/km of CO2, and while it’s not the most exciting version in the range it is one of the most worthy, and perfectly capable of hauling the 3 and a small family around.

There’s a pair of 2.0-litre petrols with either 118bhp or 163bhp. Their peak torque is identical (210Nm) and doesn’t arrive until 4,000rpm and the result is they feel less perky than the smaller capacity turbocharged engines found in many of the 3’s rivals. Still, they’re smooth and free-revving, and many will appreciate the sharper throttle response they offer.

Pick of the bunch is the 2.2-litre diesel which mixes the strongest performance (0-62mph in 8.1 seconds) with the highest economy and lowest emissions; 68mpg and 107g/km. Smooth and refined there’s little penalty to be found with the diesel, and thanks to its lightweight construction it feels almost equally agile as the petrol cars.

Latest technology

SE, SE Nav, SE-L, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav trim levels make up the Mazda 3 range, and on the top models you’ll benefit from a range of active safety technology including automatic city braking, radar cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot reduction and automatic high beam headlights.

All derivatives feature a large media display screen in the centre of the dashboard controlled by a rotary wheel on the centre console and Internet connectivity including Facebook and Twitter operation is available. The top-level models get a head-up display, a digital speedometer and the option of leather seats with electric adjustment for the driver.

Read the full new Mazda3 hatchback review to find out just which one is the perfect pick of the bunch for your lifestyle.

What owners say about this car

Good space allround and decent boot fits the large pushchair we have for our child. Read owner review

The whole car is practical,However The media system is eternally frustrating. The lack of DAB is a... Read owner review

Good sized interior, good boot space, good body styling & looks, i have had lots of favorable... Read owner review

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