Mazda 3 2.2 2014 review

26 Nov, 2013 5:00pm Tom Phillips

The Mazda 3 2.2 is a stylish new hatch, but how will it fare on British roads?

Verdict

4
The Mazda 3 is the manufacturer's attempt at stepping out of the sidelines and into the mainstream, and cars such as this are a seriously competitive way of doing just that. The interior space and quality are close to its established rivals’, while the driving experience is among the very best in the class. The striking exterior design tops off an impressive package.

We’ve driven a prototype of the new Mazda 3, and tried production models across a remote section of eastern Russia and in Europe. But now the hatch faces its biggest test: the cut and thrust of UK traffic.

 Mazda 3 in-depth review

Even before you take the wheel, the sleek looks impress. Our car’s white paint does the curves no favours, and neither do the small 16-inch alloys, but the 3 looks sharp on the road. The bobtailed proportions make it seem more sprightly than the larger 6.

It’s clear Mazda has worked pretty hard to get the new car’s interior up to scratch. You sit low, and the seats are heavily bolstered and hold your torso snugly. The materials feel solid and chunky, and the floating central screen looks like it’s been borrowed from an Audi A3. Likewise, the central controller for the infotainment system is easy to use and feels great – just like the BMW 1 Series’ iDrive wheel.

Our car’s 2.2-litre engine emits a fairly sporty-sounding, muted growl. There’s plenty of mid-range performance, too, and the shift is slick. Fairly long ratios help keep noise to a minimum when you’re taking it easy. This also aids economy, giving the newcomer favourable figures for company car drivers. Visibility is good in town traffic, helped by big door mirrors, while the hatch is easy to place as you can see plenty of the bonnet.

Step up the pace and it’s clear that the 3 is one of the best cars to drive in its class. It feels agile and light on its feet, unlike the stodgy VW Golf, while the brakes are powerful and responsive. The steering is lovely and linear, and although the ride is pretty firm, its damping does a good job of smoothing potholes. The high-profile tyres aren’t aesthetically pleasing, but they contribute to the ride quality, too. The new 3 is bigger than its predecessor, with more space inside. It can’t match the Golf in that respect – yet the improved cabin, good looks and the great way the car copes with UK roads more than compensate for this.

Disqus - noscript

this and the Focus are best cars in their class!

Great to see Mazda fighting back after losing sales to rivals - established as well as newcomers.
This car seems a good blend of looks, interior quality and last but not the least - driving dynamics.

" unlike the stodgy VW Golf,"

How did he get that past the AE proof readers!! I'd still take my old Giulietta over anything in this class but this is shaping up to be a close 2nd for me.

Yes Andy how did they especially as AE are in the back pockets of V W who,s a naughty boy then Tom !! We cant say nasty things against the Golf can we do you hear now back into the naughty corner Mind you he is right the golf is pudding like to drive

Key specs

  • Price: £21,345
  • Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
  • Power: 148bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds
  • Top speed: 130mph
  • Economy: 68.9mpg
  • CO2: 107g/km
  • Equipment: 16-inch alloys, auto lights and wipers, heated seats
  • On sale: January
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