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Car review: Mazda3 Fastback

Sporty and safe, the new Mazda3 should appeal both on the road and in the company car park, writes car reviewer Tim Barnes-Clay.

Mazda 3 Fastback

If you’re a company car driver, the chances are you’re looking to shrink your tax bill and free up cash to meet other outgoings. 

If this is the case, fret not, because the new Mazda3 has arrived.

You see, its 2014-15 company car benefit-in-kind tax bills, lower than a host of rivals, are set to make the Mazda3 the sensible financial choice for fleet managers and drivers alike.

Sales up 40%

Word must be getting around because Mazda posted sales of 8,576 cars in March. 

That’s a surge of 40% over the same month last year, well ahead of the industry rise of 18%. 

Much of that is down to the Mazda3, which was launched at the beginning of the year. 

Total sales of the motor in the first quarter of 2014 are now approaching 3,000. 

Distinctive design

What’s more, data from vehicle valuation expert CAP Automotive reveals that the Mazda3 beats numerous similar sized rivals in terms of average forecasted pound note depreciation. 

Trounced competition includes the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Peugeot 308, Renault Megane, Toyota Auris, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf.

So let’s hold a magnifying glass over the spanking new model to see the other reasons it’s so popular. 

Due to its low-slung stance, the Mazda3 is curvaceously distinctive and creates a powerful visual link with its fresh Mazda6 and Mazda CX-5 siblings.

Weight-saving

With kerb weights starting at 1,347kg - that’s for the petrol-powered 2.0-litre 120 SKYACTIV-G Fastback that I drove – it’s one of the lightest members of its class. 

Much of this weight-saving is attributable to the increase in the proportion of high-tensile and ultra-high tensile steels in the Mazda3’s bodyshell. 

It’s been boosted from 50 to 60% to create a strong and impact resistant structure.

Behind the wheel, the Fastback petrol powered version offers precision handling, with 0-62mph arriving in 8.8 seconds. 

Five star safety rating

Mazda 3 Fastback cabin

Disappointingly, it doesn’t feel as rapid as that - and top speed is a measly 123mph.

Of course, when you’re on the road, gobbling up thousands of miles a year, your own wellbeing is never far from your mind. 

Therefore, it’s reassuring to know the up-to-the-minute Mazda3 is officially one of the safest cars on the road in the UK after receiving a top five star safety rating in the Euro NCAP tests.

The brand’s all-time bestseller achieved outstanding marks, scoring 93% (for adult) and 86%, (for child) occupant protection, both among the highest scores recorded in Europe this year.

And it achieved 65% and 81%, respectively, for pedestrian protection and safety assist.

Standout appeal

The Mazda comes with many airbags as well as gadgetry known as Smart City Brake Support. 

This helps to reduce or prevent low-speed collisions by automatically applying the brakes if you fail to act. 

The motor also has Hill Hold Assist fitted to prevent roll back on inclines. 

Further standard equipment includes alloy wheels, air-conditioning, power-folding heated mirrors, leather steering wheel, trip computer, radio/CD with six speaker audio system, seven-inch colour touch screen, USB/iPod connectivity and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity.

All in all, the four-door, front wheel-drive saloon has exceptionally generous interior cabin space.

And with its sporty design it should give standout appeal both on the road and in the company car park. 

Pros & cons 

  • Attractive √
  • Safe√
  • Kit √
  • Cost √
  • Numb performance X

Fast facts 

  • Max speed: 123 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 8.8 secs
  • Combined mpg: 55.4
  • Engine: 1998cc 4 cylinder 16 valve petrol 
  • Max. power (bhp): 118 at 6000 rpm 
  • Max. torque (lb/ft): 154 at 4000 rpm
  • CO2: 119 g/km
  • Price: £19,895

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Tim Barnes-Clay

Leon Poultney

Tim is an experienced motoring writer with a background in radio and TV journalism. He puts his pedal to the metal each week with his must-read car reviews.

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