If you like a sporty drive and don’t need a huge amount of interior space the Mazda 3 has few serious flaws. The cramped back seats and limited boot space will leave family buyers feeling short-changed, but as an occasional five-seater the Mazda 3 holds serious appeal.
Thanks to models like the MX-5 roadster and RX-8 coupe, Mazda has a reputation for producing cars that put a smile on your face and the Mazda 3 is no exception. The rifle-bolt gearshift and punchy engines combine with agile responses and compact dimensions to create one of the most thrilling driving experiences in the hatchback market.
Interior quality is off the pace compared to younger European rivals from the likes of VW and SEAT and cruising refinement leaves a bit to be desired, but the Mazda 3 is competitively priced, stylish and promises to be reliable, too. Performance from the 183bhp 2.2-litre diesel is impressive but CO2 emissions of 142g/km are high, making the 1.6D (115g/km) the sensible choice.