Mazda3: Winter driving

The recent cold weather has highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of cold-weather driving in all of our long-term test cars.

First thing to report about my Mazda is the speed at which the thing heats up. You can jump into the drivers' seat on the frostiest of mornings and switch on the car, and within five minutes you can drive it away. The heated seat warms up your posterior while the elements in the front and rear windscreens melt ice away nice and fast.

Drawbacks on the Mazda centre around two issues. First, when the temperature is below around -3 the washer jet motor appears to freeze up, and takes around 40 minutes to sort itself out once the car is warmed up. This means unless you're travelling for a very long distance you won't have any washer jets at all (front and rear) and so when driving on gritty or wet roads it's only a matter of time until the windscreen gets so dirty driving becomes dangerous.

The second problem with cold-weather driving in the ‘3 is a lack of grip at the front of the car. Although my first foray into frosty conditions coincided with a message on the screen instructing me to rotate the tyres, there's a serious lack of traction when driving even in damp weather. The cold just makes this worse, to the point where I get anxious about having to drive long distances if I know the weather will be bad. However, a set of winter tyres may well improve the car and my chances of getting home for Christmas...

Current mileage: 6406

Average mpg: 29.38