BATD ON Feb 03, 2014 AT 11:01 am

by Liz Turner



I’ll be eternally grateful to Mazda, the company that brought the fabulous, affordable MX-5 sports car to the world.

While creating this fun machine, the chief engineer came up with a phrase Mazda now applies to its entire brand. He wanted the driver to feel the ‘oneness of horse and rider’.

It’s a brand that’s been gradually shifting up market, majoring on the sporty drive and smart, innovative technology. The all-new Mazda3, is ready to spar with the VW Golf, Audi A3 and BMW 1-series, although undercutting their price.

I was lucky enough to drive several variants on empty Scottish roads, while staying in the exclusive historic Ackergill Tower hotel near Wick.



Appy talk

Whatever we may say about looks not being everything for men or cars, they definitely help. Mazda has another catchphrase for the family look of its new cars: ‘Soul of Motion’, or ‘Kodo’ design. I’ve never quite grasped what that means, and I suspect new pedestrian safety regulations are giving modern cars a rather blobby look, resembling a giant running shoe.

I’m not keen on the new Three’s very rounded rear end, but there are some nice bits of sculpting down the side. The layout inside the cabin is very clear and the materials have improved, although they’re not quite up there with the Germans.

It comes with four doors and a boot or a five-door hatch, both giving loads of space for luggage and passengers.

The tech is cutting-edge. All Mazda3 models will allow you to plug in a Bluetooth compatible phone and use the Stitcher and Aha apps to access thousands of radio stations and podcasts from all over the world, and an electronic voice will read out incoming Facebook posts and Tweets.



The list of available up-to-the-minute safety equipment includes Smart City Brake, which can stop you running into the back of another car at low speeds.

While seeking every higher miles per gallon figures and lower carbon dioxide emissions, Mazda refuses to follow the current trend for tiny engines with turbos or hybrid systems. Instead, its SKYACTIV programme seeks to make sure every part in the car is as light and strong as possible, and to make the engines as efficient as they possibly can be before any extras get strapped on.

Driving puts a smile on your face…

The proof of this particular pudding, however, is in the driving. The Mazda3 was a hoot over the deserted Scottish roads, preventing the bumps and rough surfaces from getting through to the cabin, while clinging on like a mountain goat around bends. Quite a bit of roar from the road comes in, but you can always turn up the Bratislavian rap on the radio.

It’s smooth and relaxing at low speeds, too. And, whatever the speed, it has character. You would definitely give this car a name.



Mazda3 2.2 150ps Sport Nav Diesel five-door

Price £22,145, as tested £24,375

Engine diesel 2.2-litres 150ps with six-speed manual gearbox

0-62mph 8.1sec

Top speed 130mph

Economy 68.9mpg combined

CO2 107g/km

Mazda3 2.0 165ps Sport Nav five-door

Price £21,620, as tested £22,850

Engine petrol 2.0 165ps, with six-speed manual gearbox

0-62mph 8.2sec

Top speed 130mph

Economy 48.7mpg combined

CO2 135g/km

Mazda3 2.0 120ps Sport Nav five door

Price £19,895, as tested £22,325

Engine 2.0 petrol 120 ps, with six-speed manual

0-62mpg 8.9sec

Top speed 121mph

Economy 55.4mpg

CO2 119g/km

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