Mazda3 2.0 122ps Sport Lux
By Bill McCarthy
In a packed field of competitors, to stand out from the crowd takes a bit of doing.
Step forward Mazda. The new Mazda3, is without doubt one of the lookers in the compact family car market.
Sleek, svelte, feline, particularly this exclusive model in pretty unimaginably named Polymer grey livery, prefer gun metal grey, matched with privacy glass, dark alloy wheels.
New for this year, it offers a huge range of standard equipment across the range, as well as high-end pieces of kit normally associated with executive/luxury brands.
The front features a sloping low nose with large front grille with lowered air scoop, flanked by slim light clusters which feature LED lighting.
The light are incorporated into the high boot line with twin exhaust.
There are five trim levels: SE-L, SE-L Lux, Sport Lux, GT Sport and GT Sport Tech..
All models feature head-up display with Traffic Sign Recognition,Radar Cruise Control, plus sat nav and smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and an impressive eight-speaker audio system.
This model also included a reversing camera, multi-function steering wheel, smart keyless entry, heated front seats and frameless rear view mirror .
The interior is the best yet with the model featuring black leather seats with powered adjustment, a heated steering wheel.
The cabin has an executive feel, with soft touch plastics throughout and although the letter and trim makes the interior dark, it is nicely offset with chrome detailing throughout.
The firm says it takes a minimalist approach with every aspect of the cockpit laid out in perfect horizontal symmetry with the driver to deliver both ergonomic simplicity. If that means comfortable, then it is.
All models feature a seven-inch colour TFT driver instrument display, and the brain of the car is the 8.8-inch central display, controlling sat nav, infotainment and connectivity via central control dial.
It exudes comfort and luxury although leg and headroom is slight restricted for rear passengers.
This model features a two litre 122PS petrol engine which delivers plenty of grunt. Mated to a slick-shifting six-speed gearbox, it feels like a real driver’s car with plenty of shifts from maximum performance. Refined and free revving, acceleration is brisk, if not startling, hitting 60mph in around 10 seconds.
Brisk performance is accompanied by excellent handling, sharp steering and a firm ride.
Mazda says its SkyActiv-Vehicle Architecture is intended to optimise ride, refinement and handling and it certainly feels the case as the car turns in sweetly to corners, always feeling well balanced with the driver in control.
The only slight setback is the firm ride, which can be unsettling over rougher roads. As a hatchback the car needs to be practical with good stowage and storage space.
The Mazda3 is a family car and meets its role with plenty of oddments room in the front and back together with a decent sized easy to use boot which dramatically increases capacity as the offset split rear seats are folded.
Mazda3 2.0 122ps Sport Lux
Mechanical: 122ps, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 122mph
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Combined mpg: 46.4
Insurance group: 16
CO2 emissions: 119g/km
Warranty: 3yrs/62,000 miles