The 3 is fairly aggressively priced, but rivals like the Octavia and Astra are both cheaper. All of the engines (both petrols and diesels) are very efficient given how powerful they are, and the 1.5 diesel is a good option for company car buyers since it offers sub-100g/km emissions and low company car tax. Private buyers are likely to be better off going for the 2.2-litre diesel, as it’s a justifiable three-figure jump in price given the extra performance you’re going to get. Economy on both is likely to be very good, too.
In fact, the Fastback's aerodynamics mean that it's very slightly more efficient than the hatchback; diesel 3 saloons manage 104g/km, compared with 107g/km for their hatchback equivalent.
Service intervals across the 3 range are every 12 months or 12,500 miles, whichever comes sooner. Mazda also offers fixed-price servicing packages that cover you for three years.
Mazda 3 equipment
Entry-level SE editions get a generous standard kit list which includes 16in alloys, air-conditioning, Bluetooth, two USB sockets and steering wheel-mounted stereo controls – as well as the 7in central touchscreen display. Stepping up to SE-L gets you dual-zone climate control, automatic xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers and rear parking sensors.
SE and SE-L are both also available as SE Nav and SE-L Nav, which add satellite navigation to the abilities of the infotainment system. The upgrade isn't that cheap, though, so you'll need to be sure you want integrated navigation before stumping up the extra.
The range-topping trim level is called Sport Nav; it brings larger alloy wheels (18in), sat-nav, front parking sensors and keyless entry.
Mazda 3 reliability
This version of the Mazda 3 wasn’t included in the latest JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, but the previous model was rated above average for mechanical reliability.
Mazda also has a strong reputation as a brand for durability; it finished 10th in our most recent reliability survey, just behind Ford but ahead of Nissan, Fiat and Citroen.
Every new 3 comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which doesn’t compare well with Hyundai’s five-year/unlimited-mile offering on the i30, but matches similar offerings from most other manufacturers.
Mazda 3 safety & security
All versions of the 3 come with six airbags, stability control and a tyre pressure-monitoring system. The 3 also achieved a maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests, so it should keep you and your family safe in an accident. While the 3 was a little behind the VW Golf on child and pedestrian protection, its safety assistance kit brought it to within a single percentage point on the cars' overall totals.
The 3 gets deadlocks and an alarm as standard, and it received the maximum five stars from security experts Thatcham for resisting theft. It also scored four out of five for guarding against being broken into.
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You get pretty much everything you really need on the entry-level SE spec, which makes it our preferred choice. Air-conditioning, Bluetooth, two USB sockets and steering wheel-mounted stereo controls are all standard, as is the 7in central touchscreen display.
Mazda doesn't offer navigation as an option; you need to choose a separate trim level to get it. SE Nav has the same equipment as SE but incorporates an easy-to-use sat-nav system into the central 7in display. It carries a fairly hefty premium over SE, though, so be sure you want a fully integrated system before stumping up the extra cash.
SE-L brings more practical kit over SE, including dual-zone climate control, automatic xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers and rear parking sensors. The last of these is particularly useful, since the 3 isn't blessed with stellar rear visibility.
Mazda doesn't offer navigation as an option; you need to choose a separate trim level to get it. SE-L Nav has the same equipment as SE-L but incorporates an easy-to-use sat-nav system into the central 7in display. It carries a fairly hefty premium over SE, though, so be sure you want a fully integrated system before stumping up the extra cash.
Sport Nav is the only trim level to go for if you want the higher-powered 2.0-litre petrol engine, although it's also offered with the lower-powered 2.0 and the 2.2 diesel. It brings larger (18in) alloy wheels, sat-nav, front parking sensors and keyless entry – and can also be specced with leather upholstery.