Mazda3 2.2D Sport


Mazda3 Sport, interior
Mazda3 Sport, boot
Mazda3 Sport, front
Mazda3 Sport, action
Mazda3 Sport, rear

ANY car combining style with reliability that is also decent to drive stands a great chance of being a success.

The Mazda3, revamped last year, has these attributes and now also offers improved fuel economy and slashed carbon dioxide emissions making it significantly cleaner and more economical than its predecessor.

The 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine linked to a slick six-speed transmission in the car I drove proved to be an able performer offering plenty of power on tap without the need to guzzle fuel.

Once the sharp clutch was mastered the Mazda3 zipped around town and was composed on longer journeys. The sporty chassis set up means the ride is a bit firm in the urban jungle but isn't uncomfortable while the levels of grip generated are excellent.

When this is linked with the responsive steering and resistance to body roll the result is complete confidence when cornering.

The flow of air around and through the vehicle is optimised by Mazda's Aero Flow Management system which minimises drag, improves efficiency and also helps to reduce the amount of noise making it into the cabin when travelling at higher speeds.

The decent driving characteristics are also matched by a neat exterior. The hatchback is a bit of a looker with the bold design unmistakably Mazda featuring its trademark five-point grille, powerful shoulders and taut dynamic lines.

The interior has also benefited from the attentions of Mazda designers so there is plenty of space for five adults with a driver-orientated ‘zone layout' that borrows the deeply cowled instruments and good ergonomics from the Mazda6.

This means most shapes and sizes can achieve a decent driving position as the steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach and the seat can be cranked up and down.

There's also an innovative multi information display unit on top of the sweeping dashboard, plus chunky controls for the stereo unit and the climate control system - both of which feature cool flashing lights.

The steering wheel offers a blizzard of buttons which are initially a bit confusing but once understood gives the driver good control over a variety of systems including the satellite navigation package.

The cabin's appeal is further enhanced by large and supportive front seats, the extensive use of soft-touch plastics and an attention to detail which means the build quality is of a high standard.

Clever ideas have been incorporated including a lighting system that gradually increases the level of illumination to welcome driver and passengers.

The boot is a good size and well shaped so is easily able to cope with a family's weekly adventure at the supermarket while the rear seats split and fold to make an almost flat extended load floor when larger items need to be transported.

Every Mazda3 has an extensive list of safety kit including twin front, side and curtain airbags plus active front headrests in the event of an accident while stability and traction controls are fitted to help prevent one in the first place.

The Sport model boasts a neat bodykit and fancier interior trim as well as rear privacy glass, 17-inch alloys, and a sports exhaust system in addition to the extensive equipment already present on cheaper models such as Bluetooth technology, heated windscreen, electric windows, cruise control and front fog lights.


Mazda3 2.2D Sport Nav

Price: £19,920

Mechanical: 148bhp, 2,184cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 127mph

0-62mph: 9.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 52.3

Insurance Group: 10

C02 emissions: 144g/km

Bik rating: 20%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles


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