Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The 3 is fairly keenly priced compared with, say, the VW Golf and Mercedes 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 consumption is impressive for the class, the most efficient setup being a manual Skyactiv-X on 16in alloy wheels, at 54.3mpg. Where fitted, the automatic gearbox doesn’t help the figures, reducing fuel economy to 47.1mpg.
Our real-world tests of the Skyactiv-G couldn't quite match Mazda's claims, but it still beat the 1.0-litre Kia Ceed in the same test, and only came a little short of matching the Scala’s equivalent engine. That's impressive for a 2.0-litre engine.
The 3's CO2 emissions are also fairly low, but they're not the best if you're a company car driver paying benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax. That's where the Skyactiv-X comes in, with impressively low CO2 emissions for the manual version that are lower than our preferred 1.5 150 TSI Octavia, and are a match with those of the less powerful 1.0 155 Ecoboost Focus and 1.2 145 Astra.
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 100th Anniversary Special Edition celebrates Mazda's centenary in 2020 and features bespoke white and burgundy paintwork and burgundy interior trim, alongside bespoke badging on the floor mats, key fob and alloy wheels. Just 100 examples will be sold in the UK, but its high price makes it difficult to recommend.
The Mazda 3 is too new to have appeared in the latest What Car? Reliability Survey, but Mazda as a brand managed a very credible position of 10th 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 (AEB), blind-spot 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 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.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
Mixes SUV looks with hatchback running costs, but it's pricey...
The Peugeot 308 has some frugal engines, but it falls way shor...
The Ford Focus is the best driver’s car in the class&nbs...
Stylish alternative to the Golf, but it's nowhere near as roun...