Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The 3 is fairly keenly priced compared with, say, the Volkswagen Golf and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, but rivals such as the Skoda Octavia, Skoda Scala and Vauxhall Astra are cheaper still. The automatic gearbox is a pricey addition, while the Skyactiv-X petrol engine is a bit costlier than the less powerful Skyactiv-G.
If you're a cash buyer, it's worth remembering that the 3 is predicted to have stronger resale values than the Octavia, Astra and Ford Focus. That makes its PCP finance and leasing rates lower, too, so it's worth gathering quotes for all the cars you're interested in.
On paper, the official fuel economy figures are impressive for the class: while our real-world tests of the Skyactiv-G couldn't quite match Mazda's claims, it still beat the 1.0-litre Kia Ceed in the same test, and only came a little short of matching the Scala 1.0-litre. That's impressive for a 2.0-litre engine. That Skyactiv-X engine, meanwhile, is officially capable of 52.3mpg, and our experience suggests more than 40mpg is easily achievable.
Equipment, options and extras
Helping to justify the 3’s fairly high price, Mazda is relatively generous with standard equipment. We've mentioned in previous sections that you get a comprehensive infotainment system, parking aids and LED headlights on all models, and entry-level SE-L trim also has adaptive cruise control, power-folding door mirrors and air conditioning. If you can, we'd suggest aiming for SE-L Lux, though; it adds dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and heated front seats for a small premium.
Sport Lux adds a selection of further luxuries, such as rear privacy glass, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for the automatic gearbox. The 18in alloy wheels we discussed in the ride section are also standard on this trim level and above.
Mazda reckons that the more expensive GT Sport and GT Sport Tech trim levels will be most popular with buyers, and to be fair, even these don't appear desperately expensive considering that their added equipment includes leather seat upholstery and a heated steering wheel.
The Mazda 3 is too new to have appeared in the 2019 What Car? Reliability Survey, but Mazda as a brand only achieved a mid-table result: it finished 17th overall out of 31 brands and finished ahead of Audi and Mercedes.
Every new 3 comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which is pretty standard for the class, although there’s nothing that compares with the seven-year cover you get with the Kia Ceed.
Safety and security
All versions of the Mazda 3 come packed with safety kit. As standard, you get automatic emergency braking, blindspot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance and a system that alerts you to traffic crossing your path when reversing. On top of that, you get traffic sign recognition and an emergency call service (eCall).
Range-topping GT Sport Tech trim also gives you smart city braking, which automatically applies the brakes if it senses that you’re about to reverse into an obstacle, as well as a driver attention monitor, which issues a warning if your mind begins to wander from driving. It also brings front cross-traffic alert, a system that alerts you if you start to pull out in front of an unseen vehicle.
The 3 received the full five stars in its 2019 Euro NCAP safety tests, which you'd expect, but it scored particularly highly for adult occupant safety and well in the other areas. That puts it up at the top of the class in our book.
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