Mazda3 Sport Nav
The Mazda3 Sport Nav is a more than worthy rival to the Ford Focus Titanium X and Volkswagen Golf GT
The previous generation Mazda3 didn't achieve the levels of success that Mazda hoped it would. However, with the new model's stylish looks, great driving experience and efficient engines, Mazda has every reason to be confident in the latest version of its family hatch.
Available as either a hatchback or a fastback (pictured), the Mazda3 Sport Nav gets dual-zone climate control, a 7-inch TFT infotainment system with Sat Nav, Bluetooth audio transfer, LED daytime running lights and body-coloured door handles as standard. Considering this extensive specification, plus the fact the Mazda 3 Sport Nav starts at £20,000, it seems excellent value when compared to the similar top-spec Volkswagen Golf GT which is almost £3,000 more expensive.
The Sport Nav is also the only model of Mazda 3 that can be specced with lane departure warning and Mazda's rear vehicle monitoring system, albeit at an additional cost.
Mazda fits its latest range of efficient SkyActiv engines to the Mazda3 Sport Nav, and buyers get a choice of three units, all of which are fitted with Stop/Start technology as standard. There are two versions of the 2.0-litre petrol engine with varying output levels - a 118bhp unit which emits 129g/km of CO2 and does 55mpg on a combined cycle, along with a quick 163bhp version of the same engine which does 48.7mpg on its combined economy and has emissions of 129g/km.
Diesel buyers can opt for the Mazda SkyActiv 2.2-litre diesel that despite being the biggest engine in the Mazda3 line-up, is the most economical thanks to its CO2 emissions of 107g/km and 68.9mpg on a combined cycle.
Like the rest of the Mazda3 range, the Sport Nav provides a low-slung driving position, a precise short-throw six-speed gearbox (although buyers can opt in for an automatic) and engaging steering. What's more, the Mazda3 Sport Nav is nimble down a twisty backroad thanks to its strong grip and excellent chassis control. The Mazda3 is also very refined - so much so that the 2.2-litre diesel is almost silent, wind noise is almost zero per cent and the ride smooths out most bumps.
The Mazda3 was awarded five-stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, so expect it to be very safe with its standard six airbags, stability control and city-safe low-speed collision avoidance system. Furthermore, the latest Mazda3 ranked 24th out 150 cars in our 2014 Driver Power survey.