Mazda 3 (2013 - 2019)
NCAP Rating 5 / 5
The Mazda3 has been around since 2003 , when the first-generation model replaced the long-serving 3 23 as the Japanese manufacturer’s C-segment contender. The first two generations were fine enough cars, as it were, but when the third-generation Mazda3 arrived in 2013 , critics sat up and took notice. Built on Mazda’s own ‘SkyActiv’ platform, rather than a Ford chassis, the Mk3 was a handsome, well-equipped and sweet-to-drive hatchback that moved into the thick of the fight for honours in its class.
There are two body styles for the Mazda3 , the regular five-door hatchback and the four-door ‘fastback’ saloon. Both were designed with Mazda’s ‘Kodo: Soul of Motion’ ethos and so are handsome machines, although we’d say it’s the hatchback that is the prettier car. Mazda offered its usual excellent range of SkyActiv-G normally aspirated petrol and SkyActiv-D turbodiesels in the 3 , with capacities of 1.5 or 2.0 litres in the petrol range and 1.5 or 2.2 litres for the diesels. There was also a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, although the vast majority of Mazda3 s sold in this country used the manual gearbox. The Mazda3 has one of the best cabins in any Japanese car going, a feature that was only improved by the late-2016 facelift, but – that said – parts of it are going to start looking and feeling their age now. Nevertheless, with acres of space on board and intelligently laid-out controls and functions, it’s a great interior.
While there’s an anti-diesel sentiment in the air right now, Mazda staunchly refuses to turbocharge its SkyActiv-G petrol engines and so they’re hard work, as they are torque-light compared to modern forced induction motors. Thus, it’s to the diesel Mazda3 s you must look: the 2.2 is by far the stronger performer, but there’s a train of thought that suggests that the 105hp/270Nm 1.5-litre SkyActiv-D is all the engine the Mazda3 needs.
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Maximum speed: 188km/h
0-100km/h: 11.6 seconds
Fuel consumption: 3 .8 litres/100km
• Striking appearance
• Excellent cabin
• Superb chassis
• Some interior finishing lacks finesse
• Gutless petrol models
• No estate version offered
The third-generation Mazda3 was an excellent hatchback when it was launched and it remained an excellent hatchback as it went out of production early in 2019, ready for the all-new model to arrive. It has very few obvious weaknesses (if specified as a diesel model) and many things to recommend it, not least its sparkling driving manners, its unimpeachable reliability and also its attractive looks. It therefore makes an excellent used-car proposition for those looking for a first-class family vehicle.