Mazda totally lives up to its zoom-zoom spirit with the new Mazda3. Available in both saloon and hatchback body types, we had the latter on test.
The new Mazda3 hatch looks like a stubby Mazda6, with the distinctive Mazda nose and a truncated rear.
It’s a beautiful vehicle and our ruby red review car garnered lots of looks.
The interior in the new Mazda3 has been completely overhauled and the new cabin is far more appealing than that of the outgoing model.
Second from the top of the range, the GT model we were driving carried stylish and sporty looking two-tone black and white leather upholstery, with glossy surrounds on the centre console and door handles.
Legroom was great in the front and good in the back.
I, at 5ft 5, was quite comfortable sitting behind a driver of similar height.
There is quite a high transmission tunnel so just two adults would be comfortable in the back.
The middle rear seat also transforms into an armrest with two cup holders.
There are lots of storage cubbies in the Mazda3, including the beautifully sculpted bottle holders, which replace the door bins and perfectly fit a 500ml bottle.
The boot in this car is also a decent size and the rear seats fold automatically at the pull of a lever.
The cockpit, meanwhile, is a treat, with the driving position nicely cocooned, the centre console totally separating driver from passenger.
A 7in permanently fixed touch screen unit controls the audio, telephone and car settings. Dual zone climate controls are operated via dials on the centre console and the front seats in the test car were heated.
I also liked the active driving display, with projects your speed directly onto the windscreen, thus negating the need to look down at the instrument cluster.
Audio quality from the Bose sound system in the test car was excellent and Bluetooth and music streaming was easy to connect.
A well placed centre armrest houses two USB ports, an SD card slot and an excellent 12 volt socket, which charges the phone/mp3 player rather than just maintaining battery level.
Our route in this car took us mainly on city streets and motorway driving, with some winding country roads thrown in as well.
It was with great regret though that we didn’t get to take it up the mountains, as I suspect it would have been excellent.
The 2.2litre 150ps test car was fitted an automatic gearbox. Generally, I prefer the control offered in a manual, but I had no complaints with this automatic.
On the road, the Mazda3 was fast and worked quickly and seamlessly through the gears. It also handled well.
City and motorway driving was smooth and quiet. Steering was precise and there was no body roll during enthusiastic driving on winding country roads. It also easily tackled steep hills and was extremely fast at the lights.
The Mazda3 also carries a fuel efficient stop/start system, which is great for city driving as it cuts the engine when it’s idling in traffic and automatically restarts when you take your foot off the brake.
I thought it could restart slightly faster than it did though, but that is but a minor quibble.
Our test car was also fitted with the Smart City Brake Support System, which prevents low speed fender-benders.
Overall, I really liked the Mazda3. It’s a beautiful, respectable looking fast car that’s family friendly, well specced and fun to drive.
The Mazda3 is available now in a choice of petrol or diesel engines, with prices starting from €21,595. The automatic GT model hatch we were driving costs from €31,195.
Engine: 2.2litre Skyactiv-D diesel 150ps six speed automatic
Acceleration: 0-100km/h in 9.7seconds
Maximum Speed: 201kph
CO2 emissions: 127g/km
Combined fuel economy: 4.8l/100km
Annual road tax: €270
Mazda3 orders from November