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2009 Mazda 3 Review

Sat, 11 Apr 2009 00:00:00 -0700

Cars UK [rating:4.0]

The new Mazda 3 arrives in UK Car Showrooms in May

Still based on the Ford Focus platform, the Mazda 3 has taken on a chunk of design cues from the RX-8 and has, in our eyes, become probably the best looking car in its class. With its new, stiffened structure, the Mazda 3 promises to be a cracking drive, and Mazda has managed to improve fuel economy by 15% and reduce emissions by nearly 20% thanks to stop/start and terrific aerodynamics.

But is all this enough to dethrone the Focus? Maybe, just maybe, it is.

Quality has always been something Mazda does pretty well. True, it’s not the best there is, but it always out-performs most in its class. And with the Mazda 3, Mazda seem to have pushed things further upmarket and improved the quality of the trim. The interior is particularly well put together, and uses some very good, tactile soft plastics. The interior on the whole feels like one from a much more premium car.

High quality Mazda 3 Interior

Mazda has also tested the Mazda 3 to virtual destruction before launch. A massive 750,000 miles of testing has been done in both the hottest and coldest places on earth, and Mazda seem determined to get the Mazda 3 in to the top 10 most reliable cars on the market.

The Mazda 3 comes pretty well equipped, with even entry-level models getting ESP, AirCon and ipod connection, and further up the range you get big alloys, climate control, heated screen and a host of other goodies.

The old Mazda 3 had a bit of a harsh ride on some surfaces, but the New Mazda 3 seems to have addressed this pretty well. Its stiffer structure has helped it handle the UK’s potholed roads with aplomb in most circumstances, and it seems a lot quieter too – up there with the Golf and Focus.

The new Mazda 3 performs very well on the road

Having the underpinnings of the Ford Focus is a pretty good start when it comes to great driving dynamics, and the Mazda 3 doesn’t disappoint. The new 2.2 diesel engines (in 148bhp or 185bhp guise) are a huge improvement over the old 2.0 litre version. It’s much more refined, quieter, more economical and quicker – it manages 0-60mph in around 9.0 seconds, and the extra torque makes overtaking a breeze.

The Mazda 3 also handles particularly well, and has great dynamics even on poorly surfaced roads. The stiffer structure has made the Mazda 3 far more balanced and responsive and, at the same time, quieter and more relaxing to drive. The 6 speed ‘box in the 2.2 diesel has good ratios and is a joy to use (the smaller, petrol versions have to make do with a 5 speed ‘box).

We found it hard to find fault with the setup, save to say that the odd road surface generated some odd sounds – but that could just have been us!

The new Mazda 3 has improved economy and emissions

There is no doubt that this is a well thought-out and engineered car. The weight reduction and the improvement in Co2 emissions of nearly 20% is significant. And the class-leading aerodynamics certainly help on the economy front.

The new 2.2 diesel engines are particularly impressive. The 150bhp version manages 52.3mpg with 144g/km and the more powerful 185bhp version returns 50.4mpg and 149g/km. Further down the range the 1.6 petrol achieves 44.8mpg and 149g/km, whilst the small diesel – the 1.6 – returns 62.8mpg and 119g/km.

Mazdas perform pretty well on depreciation – much in line with the Ford Focus. The old Mazda 3 retained between 36% and 46% of its values after 3 years, and it seems likely this will be improved upon by the new Mazda 3, particularly if you pick the 2.2 diesel version.

Some very strong improvements overall.

Although the old Mazda 3 was a good car, it was far from the best in class. Its sometimes harsh ride let it down, and it was always perceived as a slight odd choice. But the new Mazda 3 looks set to change that. It is stylish, well-built, economical and fun to drive. It’s well equipped and offers a very creditable alternative to a Ford Focus or a Golf.

Power (ps)

‘On the road’ Retail

Emissions CO2 (g/km)

Road Fund Licence Band

105

£14,300

149

F

151

£18,025

159

G

109

£15,760

119

C

185

£19,900

149

F

105

£13,500

149

F

105

£14,300

149

F

105

£15,500

149

F

105

£16,195

149

F

105

£16,300

149

F

105

£16,995

149

F

150

£17,460

175

H

150

£18,155

175

H

151

£18,025

159

G

260

£21,500

224

K

109

£15,760

119

C

109

£16,960

119

C

109

£17,655

119

C

150

£18,440

144

F

150

£19,135

144

F

185

£19,900

149

F


By Cars UK