Mazda is known as a driver’s car and it has certainly gotten it right with the new Mazda3 Facelift.
With a sleek and stylish looking exterior, the Mazda3 opens up to a spacious interior, with plenty of legroom for driver and passenger alike.
The model I was driving was very comfortable, with a fabric trim, and a pull down armrest in the back – which could be handy for waring children.
It also had lots of cubbies and cupholders.
While I did spot many admiring glances for the Mazda3’s exterior, I don’t think the interior is the best looking Mazda has to offer.
Its designers did manage to save the bulky-looking dash on the passenger side with some chrome edging though.
The 4-door Sport saloon I was driving was pretty well appointed, with air conditioning, front and back electric windows, cruise control, Bluetooth, CD/MP3/radio/CD and gear change recommendations. It didn’t have a USB port though, which I missed.
I didn’t really like the positioning of the cruise control buttons though. I felt they were too low down on the steering wheel for a quick glance and so you had to take your eyes off the road to activate them.
However, the 1.6l 115HP manual diesel model I was road testing was an absolute dream to drive.
I really loved the steering wheel in the Mazda3. It’s not as chunky as most steering wheels and feels smooth and firm and solid.
At the lights, the car performed beautifully, pulling off smoothly and gathering speed quickly.
The Mazda3 Facelift also handles very well.
Our magical mystery tour took us to Dalkey, Co Dublin, with a mix of motorway, urban and steep, narrow and windey, hilly terrain. I was very impressed with how well it acquitted itself.
While I really didn’t take to the old model, it’s amazing what a few tweaks can do and I have to say I really enjoyed every second behind the wheel in the new one.
Overall, I thought the Mazda3 was a beautiful family car. It looks good, it feels good and most importantly it’s a fantastic and fun drive.
The Mazda3 is available in hatchback and saloon, with Irish prices starting from €19,795. The Sport saloon I was driving costs from €23,895.
Engine: 1.6l (115ps) diesel
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Acceleration: 0-100km/h in 11 seconds
Top speed: 188km/h
Combined Fuel Consumption: 4.3l/100km
CO2 Emissions: 115g/km
Annual road tax: €160 (Band A)
Visit mazda.ie for further information.