Our cars: Mazda 3 - May

Article 7 of 9 See all
  • Rotary controller has similarities to Android mobile phones

    Rotary controller has similarities to Android mobile phones

  • Navigation system isn't idiot proof

    Navigation system isn't idiot proof

  • Long distance economy impressed our director of testing - but the road noise didn't

    Long distance economy impressed our director of testing - but the road noise didn't

  • Paul squeezed his cycle into the 3's boot without issues

    Paul squeezed his cycle into the 3's boot without issues

  • Mazda's simple, streamlined dash means you can keep your eyes on the road when driving

    Mazda's simple, streamlined dash means you can keep your eyes on the road when driving

  • Emma's a fan of the instrument binnacle in the Mazda 3 - a straightforward, no nonsense affair

    Emma's a fan of the instrument binnacle in the Mazda 3 - a straightforward, no nonsense affair

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Mazda 3 2.0 120 SE Nav

Read the full Mazda 3 review

Week ending May 14
Mileage 2439
Miles this week 239

I’ve done a bit of travelling in my time, and having someone whose company you can stand is a key part to enjoying the journey.

One thing that I’ve learned over the years that can make even the most hospitable companion grate is too much noise. Some chatter is acceptable, even desirable if you are in the mood and it’s not for too long.

For long-term travel ambitions however, you really do need company that knows when to pipe down. In those terms, the Mazda and I get on great. It knows how to be quiet. In order to extract the best performance from the 2.0-litre petrol engine, it gets a bit rowdy, but copes well without shouting too loud.

At normal speeds and making normal progress however, it is well-capable of being quiet when required. It lacks the urgency of rival’s small-capacity turbo petrol and diesel cars, but the trade off is the calmness from the big petrol engine. My regular journeys rarely see revs rise above 3000rpm, meaning quiet is maintained.

There are louder, more charismatic comrades than the 3, but when you are spending a long-time together, a little bit of quiet goes a very long way.

By Nigel Donnelly
Nigel.Donnelly@whatcar.com

Read the full Mazda 3 review

Week ending May 7
Mileage 2200
Miles this week 260

People watching me park the Mazda 3 suspect I am having some sort of episode.

Observing me reverse into the office parking bays, I have the door open, seat belt slackened and my torso leaning uncomfortably outside the line of the car, in an effort to see how far back I can go before bumping into whatever is unfortunate enough to be behind me.

I have little choice. Looking in the rear-view mirror is inconclusive as the rear-window line is too high to see behind, the side mirrors tell you nowt and - as you may have guessed - the rear-parking sensors check box on our Mazda 3’s order form was left unticked.

I am getting frustrated by the 3’s lop-sided specification. In a deeply unscientific survey on the What Car? Facebook page, I asked people whether they’d prefer a sat-nav or reversing sensors on a new car. The reason I asked is because the 3 boasts a large, touch-screen sat-nav, which is excellent. It syncs with my iPhone to allow me to listen to audio content using the Stitcher and Aha apps, has voice control and keyless ignition. None of which I am bothered about as it happens. Thanks to the restricted view out the rear however, I would dearly love reversing sensors.

On Facebook, the consensus of the 50 or so respondents was very much in favour of sensors rather than nav, and I understand why. After all, buying an aftermarket sat-nav is as simple as heading to your nearest supermarket and handing over £75. Maybe less. Adding reversing sensors involves taking a Black and Decker to the Mazda’s pretty rear-bumper.

What’s more, it isn’t even an optional extra on our car. You need to hop up to the SE-L trim level, adding a load of other stuff I don’t want, such as cruise control, xenon lights and rain-sensing wipers in order to get them. That means the cheapest Mazda 3 with reversing sensors will set you back over £19,000.

It may seem harsh to pick on the sweetly-styled small hatch for something so pragmatic as a lack of parking assistance. However, if I were shopping with my own money for a small family hatch, living (as I do) in an urban environment and making the same journey to-and-from work every day without need for nav, the lack of sensors at sensible money would see it scratched off my list.

By Nigel Donnelly
Nigel.Donnelly@whatcar.com

Our cars: Mazda 3 - April

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