Mazda3 GT Sport Tech

Mazda3, front
Mazda3, front
Mazda3, front
Mazda3, front
Mazda3, rear
Mazda3, rear
Mazda3, rear seats
Mazda3, cabin
Mazda3, boot
Mazda3, front

I DON'T know if red is a lucky colour in Japan but every time I drive a Mazda car in the company's Soul Red Crystal metallic paint, I am bowled over by it.

The all new Mazda3 is no different. I am driving the family hatch - you can tell the difference by the alloys. The saloon has bright alloys and the hatch comes with metallic black ones.

I have to say that the metallic black look great against the Soul Red paintwork as does the black mesh grille at the front and the black integrated spoiler at the rear above the wide exhaust tailpipes.

This is the GT Sport Tech trim, the top-of-the-range, and it really looks the part. It also interestingly for a car in the family hatch range, comes with all wheel drive which will be a boon come winter. The last time Mazda offered this kind of feature was in the 323 AWD.

Inside in this trim level everything is black leather. For an extra £200 in you can opt for burgundy leather but personally I thought the black suited the car very well.

The heated front seats were incredibly comfortable especially in the lumbar region and, surprisingly because this was a manual car, they operated electronically. If you prefer you can choose an automatic transmission, a feature I find is becoming increasingly common in smaller cars.

The black leather contrasts with piano black gloss on the central console and polished chrome handles and design cues.

In keeping with its Japanese heritage the dash is clean and uncluttered and I was actually quite impressed by the simple but easy-to-use radio controls. The Mazda3 in this trim also comes with a Bose sound system.

And then there's the car's soundtrack. I switched it on and this family hatch growled at me - a wolf in sheep's clothing. It really is. It is fast, nippy, responsive and feels even better the more you drive it.

I took it over some lonely local roads and it absolutely loved the idea of being pushed. The gears were slick and sweet and every so often it growled at me again.

Under the bonnet is Mazda's new 2.0-litre petrol Skyactive-X engine with Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) offering great efficiency and at 180ps, loads of performance yet low emissions.

It is also a mild hybrid recovering kinetic energy as it goes to power the car's electrical equipment. Believe me, this car is the full package.

Standard gear at even the entry level is fantastic - a head up display with traffic sign recognition, radar cruise control, nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Step up to the GT Sport Tech and features include a 360 degree camera as well as a driver monitoring system with an interior camera.

FAST FACTS

Mazda3 GT Sport Tech

Price: £29,775

Mechanical: 180ps, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 133mph

0-62mph: 8.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 45.6

Insurance Group: 109g/km

C02 emissions: 29%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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