Macclesfield Express - - MOTORING -

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

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