Want a new family hatch but bored with the usual suspects? Well, the Mazda 3 could well take your fancy; its aggressive ‘Kodo’ styling certainly helps it stand out from big-selling rivals, including the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.
Design isn’t the only thing Mazda has taken a different tack on, either. Rather than following the trend for fitting small turbocharged petrol engines, the Japanese brand has stuck with relatively large 2.0-litre non-turbocharged units which, it claims, return better fuel economy in real-world driving.
The diesel models (which are turbocharged) aren’t quite as frugal as some rivals on paper. Again, though, Mazda reckons the flipside is better economy in the real world along with stronger, more flexible performance.
For the Mazda 3 to succeed in this hotly contested class, though, it needs to be a seriously accomplished all-rounder. Read on over the next few pages for our in depth impressions, find out how it compares with rivals and we'll also tell you which engines and trims make the most sense.