Mazda3 GT Sport

Mazda3 GT Sport, 2023, front
Mazda3 GT Sport, 2023, rear
Mazda3 GT Sport, 2023, interior

THERE'S been a bit of a revolution at Mazda and it's all centred around the company's popular family hatchback, the Mazda3.

The new, fourth generation of this model now has a radical new look - and it's proving to be rather popular.

It's still recognisable as a Mazda3 but the new smoother, sportier design has transformed the car's image and is getting existing owners checking their bank balances to see how soon they can update.

The five-seater hatch - there's also a smaller selling saloon version - has been around since 2003 and has gradually been evolving.

The latest incarnation, however, is more striking than ever and has a new look interior which is equally upmarket.

And while other manufacturers have been tending to switch to smaller engines for family cars Mazda has stuck to its guns and retained a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder powerplant with a choice of performance levels.

The GT Sport version, driven here, boasts the most powerful with 186bhp, giving it a top speed of 134 miles per hour and a respectable 0-62 acceleration time of 8.1 seconds from the six-speed manual gearbox version.

The GT Sport uses mild hybrid technology to back up the engine which not only helps performance but also ensures excellent economy for a 2.0-litre engine, helped by cylinder-on-demand technology, which effectively means running on two out of the four cylinders when you are up to speed and using a light throttle.

When it comes to performance the Mazda3 is no hot hatch or traffic light race winner but there's plenty of torque and it's never really found wanting.

And it's surprisingly quiet and smooth, with a silky six-speed gearbox which is amongst the best in the business and a delight to use.

GT versions come with full leather seating and a whole host of nice motoring goodies like a head-up display, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, an electric glass sunroof and a 12-speaker Bose sound system.

And the electrically adjustable driver's seat - with memory settings for three drivers - plus a height and reach adjustable steering wheel means even the most awkward motorist can easily find the perfect driving position.

There are a plethora of soft touch surfaces on the dashboard and it's nice to see a traditional three-dial setup set into a deep binnacle in front of the driver.

A relatively small - 8.8-inch - colour screen sits high on the dashboard for onboard functions controlled by a command wheel on the centre console.

But while the sat nav system uses the full screen the picture from the reversing camera sadly only uses 50 per cent of the monitor, dramatically reducing your view of what's behind you. There are, however, parking sensors front and rear to help out.

On the road the Mazda3 is quiet, refined and comfortable. Like all modern cars it's equipped with a stop/start system where the engine cuts out when you are stationary but the re-starting on this car is superb as it's completely inaudible.

The steering is pin sharp and precise and the small turning circle ensures the car is highly manoeuvrable when it comes to parking in tight spots.

Last but not least this Mazda is packed with a whole host of safety features to lesson any damage to its bodywork or any of its occupants. These includes both front and rear cross traffic alert - a real bonus when coming blindly out of a parking space at a supermarket - as well as lane-keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, radar cruise control and a hill-holder clutch so you don't roll back when moving off on inclines.

And after dark super-efficient adaptive LED headlights instil confidence for night driving.

FAST FACTS

Mazda3 GT Sport

Price: £29,565

Mechanical: 186 bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via six speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 134 mph

0-62mph: 8.1 secs

Combined MPG: 53.3

Insurance Group: 22

C02 emissions: 121 g/km

Bik rating: 29%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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