A tale of three

Mazdas

Mazda3, front
Mazda3, front
Mazda3, front
Mazda3 Sport Black, 2018, front
Mazda3 Sport Black, 2018, side
Mazda3 Sport Black, 2018, rear
Mazda3 Sport Black, 2018, interior

MY mother's final car was a Mazda3.

Both my brother and I were distraught. It was we who had to keep it or dispose of it.

Her driving life had been a colourful one.

She owned the first Mini sold in Ormskirk, from Kinlochs of County Road I recall and had a raft of interesting cars, if you leave out her Austin Maxi - which was just a raft.

Highlights included a Renault 16, now that was a pace setter in its day, a Lotus Carlton and a flock of Lexus models.

I think at that point she was under the influence of Alan Partridge.

Here's a tip. She never bought a brand new car, preferring to go into a dealership, point at the demonstrator or the MD's car and promise to buy it after 3,000 miles. Saved a fortune but then she didn't care about colour.

So five years ago we ended up with a white Mazda automatic hatchback on our hands which was about as inspiring as bathing in cold custard.

But that was then and this is now.

The Mazda3 was brought seriously up to date in 2017 and remains one of the most accomplished hatchbacks on the market.

Those who have headed in the direction of the third way have been rewarded with a car which drives well, has a refined and solid interior and has a reputation for reliability.

This Sport Nav version is powered by a 2.0-litre 163bhp petrol engine sans turbocharger, perhaps not as fast as some may expect but 8.9 seconds to 62mph is hardly walking pace. It does offer a broad torque range rather than the short, sharp shock of a turbo.

Now I am always a bit reticent to take economy claims fully to heart and the hatchback promises 55.4mpg. The good news is that on a steady run up the M6 on what I can only assume was the day after the zombie apocalypse I managed 49mpg.

It can be slung around in the right places but I have a feeling most buyers won't be going down that road. Should you be so inclined the six-speed manual gearbox will impress as will the direct steering taken from the MX-5.

More likely this car will attract value-conscious families looking for a practical hatch with a degree of style about it and company choosers.

Out on the road roll is contained and the suspension soaks up humps and holes well.

There are more popular alternatives but the interior of the Mazda3 puts at least two of the major players to shame. The cabin is a well thought out place to sit with all finishes premium quality. Seats and the steering wheel have plenty of adjustment.

This version is far from short on equipment. The fascia is dominated by a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen with logical sat nav and DAB radio. This is all controlled by a simple knob between the seats.

The boot isn't anything to celebrate, a shallow 364-litres but it does the job.

Company car drivers are a conservative lot and probably need some convincing that this car is better than the more popular models.

If your boss offers you one, take it.

The Mazda has always been available with sensible purchase packages. I have a feeling that will just have got better. The 2-0-litre Sport Nav is listed at £20,645 but those who have kept a weather eye on the Geneva show will have seen the next generation of this car, due to arrive shortly.

It is, without debate, a stunning looking vehicle and there is no reason to think this will not be matched mechanically.

The choice is yours. Be like my mum and go twist the sales manager's arm up his back for a tough deal on the outgoing model or wait for a replacement which will go directly to the top of the hatchback tree.

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