Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The 3 Saloon is priced keenly when compared with the Audi A3 Saloon, but the fact that the larger Mazda 6 and Skoda Superb both start at around the same price, makes it seem quite expensive. True, running costs will be more expensive on those cars, and the 3 Saloon is cheaper on a PCP finance deal, but the payoffs for extra space may be worth it, depending on your needs.
The topic of running costs is where Mazda's Skyactiv-X engine really earns its keep. It officially makes the 3 Saloon capable of 52.3mpg, and our experience suggests that more than 40mpg is easily achievable. The 148bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine in the larger Skoda Superb records 42.8mpg and 120g/km, while benefit-in-kind business tax rates start at 28% for the Skoda but an impressive 23% for the Mazda.
Mazda is relatively generous with standard equipment, including adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and heated front seats. There’s also the comprehensive infotainment system mentioned earlier. However, we’d recommend mid-range GT Sport trim, because it adds front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, dual-zone climate control and a 12-speaker Bose surround sound system.
Mazda as a brand didn’t fare too well in the latest What Car? Reliability Survey, ranking 17th out of 31 manufacturers. Still, that’s ahead of both Audi and Mercedes. Every 3 Saloon 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 Optima.
All versions of the 3 Saloon come packed with safety kit. As standard, you get automatic emergency braking (Mazda calls this smart city brake support) blindspot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance and a system that alerts you to traffic crossing your path when you’re reversing. On top of that, you get traffic sign recognition and an emergency call service (eCall).
It’s just a shame you have to go for range-topping GT Sport Tech trim for active cruise control and front cross-traffic monitoring, as well as for a driver attention monitor system that issues a warning if it senses your mind wandering from driving.
The 3 hatchback received the full five stars in its 2019 Euro NCAP safety tests, scoring particularly highly for adult occupant safety.
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