2. Mazda 3

Mazda 3 2.2 front action
11 Aug, 2014 2:00pm

With its bold looks, sharp handling, solid build quality and upmarket interior, the latest Mazda 3 has really taken the fight to hatchback rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and SEAT Leon. There's also a Fastback saloon version which was commended in the compact family car category in our 2014 New Car Awards.

Mazda’s excellent SkyActiv technology is standard across the 3 range, bucking the downsizing trend that many other manufacturers are following. Instead, naturally-aspirated engines have been built with advanced engineering solutions in place to ensure the car is as efficient in real-world use as possible.

The engine range includes a 98bhp 1.5-litre petrol, a 2.0-litre petrol with 118bhp and a meaty 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel with the units offered across three well-equipped trim levels. Even entry-level models come with a decent roster of standard equipment.

The Mazda 3 is an engaging car to drive in nearly all conditions, with strong grip and nimble handling. Throw in a top 25 position in our 2014 Driver Power survey and it offers an enjoyable and reliable ownership proposition.

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