Is the new Mazda three the best-looking household hatchback in years? Its maker will surely hope you assume so. When it revealed the Kai idea some two years in the past – this contemporary mannequin relies on that automobile’s squat, sporty design – response to it was overwhelmingly constructive.
Clearly, the agency’s design and engineering groups have pushed the boat out to ship as a lot of the idea’s gorgeous appears as doable; and in a 12 months once we’ll see a contemporary Volkswagen Golf, Mazda’s newcomer must occupy a fascinating spot within the minds of patrons up and down the land. It’s now on sale in Britain, and that is our first likelihood to drive it on house turf.
With just a few months nonetheless to go earlier than the brand new Golf arrives, the Mazda three might want to sq. as much as the newest Ford Focus. Each are sharp-looking and promise most driver engagement, though the Mazda’s launch line-up is far slimmer than the huge variety of configurations you’ll be offered with in a Focus brochure.
Simply two engines can be found. The SkyActiv-D diesel produces 114bhp, whereas the SkyActiv-G petrol we drove is barely stronger. It’s anticipated to be extra standard, even when it lacks the diesel’s torque and gas financial system. An all-important third choice will seem later this 12 months, known as SkyActiv-X; it’s a brand new engine that guarantees diesel-like gas financial system with the punch of a petroleum unit, due to intelligent compression know-how.
It’s a disgrace the brand new motor isn’t out there at launch, as a result of the prevailing engine is a weak hyperlink. There isn’t a lot torque, and it takes greater than 10 seconds to dash from Zero-62mph, so it’s removed from quick. The older SkyActiv-G engine may be very refined, although. At cruising speeds the Mazda three is extraordinarily quiet, and it really works nicely with chassis, gearbox and steering settings which can be basically sound.
Be in little question, the Mazda three is a superb automobile to drive. The innate tautness of the platform implies that the suspension doesn’t must be rock-solid for this to be a hatchback you may drive exhausting with a little bit of confidence. It’s beautifully composed – if perhaps not as grippy or eager to show in as a Focus – but it surely does it whereas retaining glorious experience high quality.
Given the scant torque served up by the turbo-less engine, it’s essential work the gears to maintain momentum. However the six-speed handbook is a pleasure to make use of, with a brief, correct throw. You would possibly want the steering felt extra alive, however by family-hatch requirements it’s nicely judged. The driving place is properly adjustable, too.
Whoever sits behind the wheel can be impressed, as ought to anybody within the passenger seat, given the standard of the cabin. We tried a mid-spec Sport Lux automobile, and though you’ll must step as much as GT Sport for leather-based seats, the supplies used across the inside really feel of a excessive commonplace.
It’s a a lot nicer place to take a seat than the newest Focus, and doubtless surpasses the outgoing Golf, too. Importantly, the three will get a brand new infotainment set-up as nicely. The Eight.Eight-inch show is crisper than what we’ve seen in Mazdas earlier than, positioned neatly within the driver’s eye-line, and operated by a rotary dial like BMW’s iDrive. Nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all current, as they’re on each mannequin. In truth, each model of the brand new Mazda three is nicely outfitted for the cash. Even the fundamental mannequin has radar cruise management and LED lights.
Any downsides? A pair. The Mazda’s smooth form means area within the again isn’t superb, and it’s darkish again there, too. The thickness of the C-pillar implies that rearward visibility is restricted, and the 351-litre boot isn’t among the many most spacious within the class.
General, the Mazda is certainly price exploring. But when your price range will stretch by one other £1,500, it might be price ready for the SkyActiv-X to reach in October.