Mazda 3: Welcome

  • The new Mazda 3 joins the parkers fleet
  • Sport Nav trim brings generous levels of kit
  • Lower-powered petrol offers 118bhp

There are very few things that beat getting handed a shiny new set of keys to your next long-term car.

After waving goodbye to the Volvo V40 a few months ago and beating a colleague in an arm wrestle to run the Leon SC for the last month of its time with us, I was excited to be getting behind the wheel of our new long-termer for the next six months.  

And here it is.

Fresh off the production line with less than 800 miles on the clock, this is the new Mazda 3 in Sport Nav trim accompanied by a 2.0 litre petrol engine.

Pleasing to the eye, the new generation 3 follows Mazda's new 'KODO' design language - first launched in the CX-5.

Before me and the Mazda embark on our first of many journeys together and we find out if it copes with my monthly shopping trips to Meadowhall (there are few cars that can!) - lets first take a look at how the Mazda 3 looks on paper.

So first things first, the price.

Our test car is in the top of the range Sport Nav trim and comes very generously equipped. Standard kit includes 18-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, sat-nav, a head-up display (projects the car's speed onto a strip of plastic in front of the windscreen), USB port, LED daytime running lights, dual-zone air-conditioning, heated front seats, cruise control, parking sensors and keyless entry.

This is the lower-powered petrol model with 118bhp so it misses out on leather seats, however included as standard is an adaptive front lighting system which switches between high- and low-beam automatically and turns with the steering wheel to illuminate corners - I'm looking forward to testing this system.

So you would expect a pretty pricey sum for all this kit, yet the starting price for this car sits just under £20,000. The optional paint added to our test car pushes it over the threshold to £20,435.

So value for money gets a big tick from us.

It’s pretty clean too thanks to the Japanese firm's efficient SKYACTIV technology with 119g/km of CO2 helping to keep tax costs low for company car drivers.

As previously mentioned this is the lower powered 2.0-litre option with 118bhp, so 0-62mph can be achieved in 8.9 seconds accompanied by a top speed of 121mph. When it comes to fuel economy the Mazda 3 has an official combined figure of 55.4mpg.

So performance doesn't look too shabby either.

First impressions of the interior are a mixed bag with a few cheap plastics lurking and the door cards feeling on the flimsy side. I am looking forward to taking the Mazda 3 on a long run to see how it fares when it comes to comfort.

In what is a heavily congested segment, the Mazda3 has some touch competition from the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and the SEAT Leon to name but a few, but first impressions are good.

We will be putting our new Mazda 3 through its paces over the next six months to find out if it's a good enough package to tempt buyers away from mainstream models.

One final note:

I’m aware I haven’t mentioned the boring colour but there is a reason for this: since my colleague Graeme Lambert (who arranged this car) specced a bright yellow Octavia vRS as his latest long term car, to be honest I think I got off lightly – it’ll grow on me.