I MUST admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Mazdas after having once owned one for the best part of 20 years.
C33YND was a 1985 series one RX7 – quite a rare machine in its day.
It took me year after year to numerous classic events like Silverstone and Le Mans and pretty much never missed a beat up to 118,000 miles when the RX7’s Achilles heel, that thirsty and quirky rotary engine, finally expired.
Until then everything on the car worked perfectly – so I know Mazda have for decades made super-reliable, well put together vehicles.
Fast forward to 2015 and how does their very latest model, the Mazda3, shape up?
Getting into the stylish hatchback version we got to test, it’s a bigger car than you expect and, just like my old RX7, it’s also a drivers’ car with a superb seating position – all the controls fall easily to hand.
There is a slight disappointment on the performance front. Our test car had the 1998cc petrol engine, which is big by modern standards, but because there is no turbo bhp is just 120. Even so, on paper, the 2.0-litre Mazda3 can do 0 to 62 in a respectable 8.9 seconds and the top speed is 121mph, but the car did not feel that quick.
However, it is up with the best on petrol economy with 55.4mpg combined, thanks in part to stop-start technology.
There are five specification levels – SE, SE Nav, SE-L, SE-L Nav and the flagship Sport Nav.
The range is powered by a choice of three petrol engines – 1.5-litre 100ps, 2.0-litre 120ps and 2.0-litre 165ps – and a 2.2-litre 150ps turbo diesel. All have a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. If fuel economy is your number one priority then go for the diesel-powered manual which returns 72.4mpg.
The 36-strong thirdgeneration Mazda3 line-up is priced from £16,995 for the entry level 1.5 petrol up to £23,745 on-the-road for the 2.2 Sport Nav Auto diesel.
●● The 2015 Mazda3