Although Mazda trades on a sporty reputation, the 3 doesn't get anywhere near to a Ford Focus in terms of handling. However, it's not without serious strengths. It comes very well equipped, the infotainment system is great, the interior quality is top-notch and it's refined and reasonably priced. The lack of rear seat space is something to consider if you regularly carry adults in the back, and don't forget if you want more power the more powerful Skyactiv-X petrol engine is due to arrive later this year.get the best price
Trim: GT Sport
It's still worth considering the upper trims, such as this GT Sport, because they're not overly priced. Upgrades include a powered driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, leather seat upholstery, a heated steering wheel and a 12-speaker Bose premium sound system.
Engine: 2.0 Skyactiv-G MHEV
Without a turbocharger the Mazda 3's entry-level 2.0 Skyactiv-G petrol engine produces 120bhp. That's about the same as the 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines you get in rivals like the Ford Focus and Skoda Octavia. What does that mean in performance terms? Well, the Octavia 1.0 TSI 115 feels a little more flexible in the mid range, but the 3's engine still has enough shove so you're not constantly shifting gears to keep up with the traffic. And in our tests it proved faster from a flat-out standing start than a Kia Ceed 1.0-litre or Skoda Scala — 0-60mph took a creditable 9.4sec.