Mazda3: Office opinions

What the office thinks

We've had the Mazda3 in the office for nine months now, and everyone has driven hundreds of miles in it. So you've heard what I think of the car, but what about the rest of the office? I asked the question, so read on and find out...

Sub-editor Tim Bowdler: "I remember driving the Mazda3 MPS on a launch in John O'Groats in 2007 and it was totally unmanageable. The huge amounts of torquesteer that regularly sent the car off the road and on to adjacent cowfields and the unpredictable levels of grip which nearly resulted in car/bovine arse interface, made me vow never ever to get behind the wheel of a Mazda3 again, whatever the spec or engine.
"It was an irrational hatred, where guilt-by-association figured heavily, so when the Parker's editorial team effectively emptied the road test vehicles car park and left me the keys to the long-term Mazda3, I plotted a route home from Peterborough to London where the onset of a farmyard-based insurance claim would be nigh-on impossible.
"After ten minutes of driving the 3 I realised my views on this model were somewhat extreme. It steered nicely around the corners and, after tentatively navigating my way around a sequence of roundabouts, I realised it was time to explore the Mazda's grip levels without fear of hitting anything called Daisy. It was a pleasant, joy-filled experience that has resulted in Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus-like conversion. The 3 sticks to the road like chewing gum on carpet, it has decent steering feel, its gearchange is possibly one of the best out there and I am over-awed by simplicity of the sat nav. The stereo sounds nice too. So, there you go, I've been converted to Mazda 3 and no looking back. Pity it drinks fuel."

News and features editor Chris Ebbs: "The Mazda3 is a seriously underrated car in this part of the market. When it's fighting it out with the likes of the Ford Focus and VW Golf, the chance of the 3 coming out on top was always going to be slim.

"Every time I get back in the car I realise just how good it is. The manual gearbox is possibly the best of any of its rivals and the seating position is comfortable and ideal for some more enthusiastic driving. Even the handling is pretty good, although the touch of under steer doesn't give you a huge amount of confidence when hitting tight corners at speed. The biggest problem the 3 has is the engine. Performance wise it is excellent, but economy and emissions aren't good enough and when you compare it to the excellent units from Ford and VW, it still seriously lags behind the competition."

Consumer reporter Lewis Kingston: "Initially I was put off by a rather unremarkable interior," says Lewis, "but the Mazda more than compensated for that with the way that it drives. Light controls, a turbine-smooth engine and a comfortable ride means that driving the 3 is effortless, yet it's still involving. Additional equipment like the integrated sat-nav and cruise control makes it easy to live with, although the limited range can be annoying - even with a full tank you'll only get about 300 miles."

Road test editor Simon McBride: "The Ford Focus Mk4 and the Mazda3 share the same platform because they are both owned by the blue Oval brand. The two cars are very similar and offer a lot of positives with regards to practicality and road manners but looks can be very important when buying a new car.
"The Mazda3 has the sharper styling - Ford played it safe with the Mk4 and the company was criticised for making the car so bland when comparing it to its predecessor. However, think about what you'll need in terms of practicality and you may well choose the Focus. Why? Well, the Mk4 Focus is that little bit bigger and cheaper.
"The Mazda3 has a loadspace of 340 litres and, with the rear seats folded, this increases to 1,360 litres, while the Ford Focus has 396 litres with the seats in place and when folded expands to 1,258 litres. The more expansive boot in the Focus makes it easier to store the all-important golf clubs. It's expensive too. Our long-term Mazda3 2.0-litre petrol in Sport trim starts from £18,995 while the run-out Mk4 Focus started from £16,545. Even though these cars have the same chassis, the Mazda3 and the Ford Focus are definitely not identical twins."

Current mileage: 11030

Average mpg: 25mpg