Mazda3 2.0 Sport

Black

Mazda3, front
Mazda3, front
Mazda3, front
Mazda3, front
Mazda3, side
Mazda3, interior
Mazda3, interior
Mazda3, rear
Mazda3, rear
Mazda3, rear
Mazda3, engine
Mazda3, front

POTENTIAL buyers tempted by the sporty trappings of the new Mazda3 Sport Black special edition will need to get their skates on.

Just 800 examples of this new flagship model are being made available to UK customers - and they've been on sale since April.

As the name suggests, it is distinguished from the rest of the range by a muscular body kit which consists of a shiny black front splitter with matching side skirts and rear bumper as well as black-capped wing mirrors and a black roof spoiler at the rear.

Eye-catching 18-inch dark gunmetal alloy wheels complete the look, with a choice of either Soul Red Metallic or the Snowflake White Pearlescent paint jobs to offset all the dark trim.

All this comes on top of a low slung stance, sharp lines and twin tailpipes and results in a youthful looking car that's sure to pique the interest of passing boy racers when it's parked on the drive.

Those expecting the dynamic design to be reflected in the Sport Black's performance, however, will be a little frustrated.

The Mazda3 range has been crying out for a hot hatch version since the 155mph MPS disappeared with the model's last update in 2013 - but the Sport Black is not it.

This motor is more lukewarm than fiery - because the only powertrain available with this special edition is the trusted 120ps Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre petrol that's used across the range - you don't even get the extra oomph of the 165ps version you can choose in standard Sport Nav trim.

And while a 0-62mph sprint time of 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 121mph is by no means sluggish - it doesn't set the pulse racing either and is also bettered by the impressive 2.2-litre diesel option available in other grades.

However, with official average fuel consumption of 55mpg and carbon emissions of 119g/km, it is more economical than the more powerful petrol and cheaper to buy than the oil burner in comparable spec, so it's a matter of swings and roundabouts.

And while you may not be bothering the Focus ST, Golf GTi and Leon Cupra brigade in the drag racing stakes, the Sport Black actually still turns out to be an entertaining and enjoyable car to drive.

The engine really gets into its stride as the revs build and is capable of sharp injections of pace if you're happy to work the compact and snappy six-speed manual gearbox and, typically of Mazda, handling is agile and responsive thanks to a well-balanced chassis.

Grip is solid and assured at all times and there's little discernible body lean in the corners, while the suspension still proves supple enough to iron out all but the worst imperfections in the road surface and provide a comfortable ride.

Inside the cabin, the Sport Black gets exclusive black half leather/half suede upholstery and a premium BOSE sound system on top of all the standard kit from the range-topping Sport Nav version, such as dual-zone climate control, cruise control, heated front seats, satnav, reversing camera and keyless entry and ignition.

You also get Mazda's MZD-Connect multimedia system - with the option of controlling various functions via the responsive seven-inch colour touchscreen, a rotary multimedia commander or steering-wheel mounted switches.

Space and practicality are competitive for a family hatchback, with comfortable head and legroom all round, plenty of personal storage cubbies and an accommodating 364-litre boot, rising to 1,263 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down.

Smart city braking and stability and traction control systems are among the safety features which help to offer peace of mind and the Mazda3 boasts the top five-star rating in the standard European crash tests.

FAST FACTS

Mazda3 2.0 Sport Black

Price: £20,995

Mechanical: 120ps, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 121mph

0-62mph: 8.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 55.4

Insurance Group:18

C02 emissions:119g/km

Bik rating: 20%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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