Mazda3 2.0 Sport Nav

5-door

Mazda3 2012 interior
Mazda3 2012 rear
Mazda3 2012 front
Mazda3
Mazda3, 2012, front
Mazda3, 2012, rear
Mazda3, 2012, boot

APPLYING the word Sport to a particular car model can prove somewhat confusing.

For instance does the manufacturer mean this version boasts more performance, or does it actually mean there are a few sporty stick-ons?

Sure, some more spokes on your alloys always looks racy, and a body kit or spoiler adds a touch of aggression.

But what you really want Sport to do is fulfil what its name suggests - and sharpen up the whole driving experience.

That's the view Mazda took with its recent upgrade of the Mazda3, the outgoing version of which was the second best-selling car from the Japanese brand's UK line-up.

So the company's engineers fine-tuned the suspension and steering to deliver an extra dose of what it calls ‘Toitsukan' - more linear steering feel for better control and assured predictability, plus a smoother ride and improved refinement.

And they didn't just limit it to Sport versions, of which there are two new ones in the stable, but to the entire range.

What was already an enjoyably precise hatchback to drive now has more edge to go with all-round boosts in everything from residual values and benefit-in-kind tax bill reductions to improved fuel economy and performance.

The new-look Mazda3 line-up features 18 models with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines in six trim levels and kicks off with the 1.6-litre S petrol model at £14,995.

According to industry analysts, the range will now retain 34 per cent of its value three years or 60,000 miles down the line, while company car drivers will also make financial savings due to CO emission cuts of up to 3.5 per cent.

These are the drivers Mazda feels need to sit up and take notice.

And in the case of the 1.6-litre diesel it means low CO emissions of 115g/km - putting it into the 17 per cent company car tax bracket for diesel models - and a combined cycle fuel economy of 65.7mpg.

The 2.0-litre Sport Nav model is a fine car to drive though nothing like so frugal, my own fuel figure averaging only 32.7mpg over 170 miles of largely urban motoring.

What buyers can rely on though is advanced safety-boosting equipment like Dynamic Stability Control and the Emergency Stop Signalling as standard on every model, together with six airbags.

FAST FACTS

Mazda3 2.0 Sport Nav 5-door

Price: £19,195

Mechanical: 151PS, 1,999cc 4-cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual transmission

Max Speed: 128mph

0-62mph: 10.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 42.2

Insurance Group: 19 (1-50)

C02 emissions: 157g/km

Bik rating: 21%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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