I am normally pretty impulsive when it comes to buying new mobiles, gadgets and cars etc. This time, however, I was having trouble finding a new car that fitted the criteria of being a bit sporty with good looks, nippy, reliable with good kit.
After two weeks of searching, I had tried the Citroen C4 (tacky-looking interior), the Honda Civic (old-people image and over-priced for the lack of kit), the new Focus (the salesman didn't bother turning up for the test drive plus how long till everyone has one?!), the Peugeot 307 Sport (great looking, good kit and price but terrible reliability), the Seat Ibiza FR (very quick but has an old-fashioned dash - too boy-racer), the Nissan Almera (reliable, a bit plain looking, good kit but there's no Sport version).
Mazda hadn't crossed my mind until I drove past a dealer displaying the Mazda 3. I headed straight for the showroom and the saw the Mazda 3 (2.0-litre) Sport in metallic Winning Blue. I looked around it, sat in it. That was the car - my impulsive nature was finally rediscovered - I wanted it!
It is Japanese so there should be no problem with reliability. It's sporty looking, has xenon headlights, a five-CD multiplayer, numerous airbags, a fantastic interior... the list goes on.
I have had it for around six weeks now and absolutely no regrets.
It is maybe a tad noisy on the motorway but who cares? The volume on the radio or CD automatically increases so you don't really notice it! It handles well and is brillian
I was looking for a five-door hatch that would stand out from the crowd and once I had seen the Mazda 3 in Winning blue, I was hooked.
There are endless new Golfs about, and at some £3k more for a similar spec, the Mazda was a great-value purchase.
The muscular design isn't everyone's cup of tea though, but even these opinions change when you see the funky dashboard in an Alfa Romeo style.
When it comes to driving, I would have liked a 1.8 as the 1.6 struggles at times, but the economy is excellent for its class and the car adheres to the road even better than my previous BMW 316i Compact.
The spec is excellent on the TS2, including traction control, stability control and anything else ending in control. Having two young kids, practicality was an issue but the three has a fair old boot and plenty of interior storage.
Two things prevent me from giving it five stars though. Firstly, the road noise from the standard low-profile tyres is quite profound on certain surfaces and the climate control is nowhere near as efficient as on a Passat I used to own.
If you don't want to be just another Golf/Astra/Focus/306 driver then I highly recommend this car!
Upgrading from my Polo GTI, I needed something that was fun to drive but also far more practical. The Mazda 3 certainly doesn't disappoint.
Along winding A or B roads, the chassis feels solid, with plenty of grip. The 2.0-litre engine is keen to rev and has plenty of torque for smooth overtaking.
Driving 300-400 miles per week, the cabin is still a relaxing place to be, with supportive seats, six CD and climate control all as standard.
One surprise is that I am actually able to match and beat the combined mpg figure, with a mixture of motorway and city driving.
The only niggle with the car is the size of the rear bumper overhang when reversing, but this you get used to.
All in all this is an excellent car for the money, the dealer service meeting its reputation as well.
I've had this car for several months now and it is proving to be a sound buy.
It's comfortable, spacious and a fun driving experience. It's absolutely loaded with kit - airbags aplenty, a trip computer and really neat dash including a six-CD stereo, which works really well.
My only criticisms are that it is a tad noisy on a motorway run and the fuel consumption isn't great - averaging around 35mpg at the moment. But that may improve as the engine loosens up.
It's a little different from the Focus/Astra/Golf brigade and I like the fact there aren't many on the road.
It's worth a good look.
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