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. Plus, the fuel-efficient Skyactiv-X engine offers low CO2 emissions that’ll help with company car tax.get the best price
Trim: SE-L Lux
This is our pick if you're balancing kit with costs. SE-L Lux adds some nice extras, such as dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, keyless entry, front parking sensors and a rear-view camera, without pushing up the price too much.
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.
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