Mazda 3 long-term test review: report 4

Mazda's new family hatchback combines groundbreaking engine tech with the promise of driver engagement. We're trying it out...

Mazda 3

The car Mazda 3 2.0 Skyactiv-X MHEV Sport Lux  Run by Kris Culmer, special contributor

Why it’s here To prove that Mazda's new petrol engine technology really works and discover whether the 3 can now truly challenge premium-brand family hatchbacks

Needs to Achieve diesel-challenging economy; have an interior and driving experience that make you feel special; be practical enough for a family of four


Mileage 9025 List price £25,575 Target Price £23,989 Price as tested £26,365 Test economy 47.1mpg Official economy 48.7mpg


17 March – Dialling in

Here's my morning routine after getting into the Mazda. Foot on the clutch, I thumb the starter button and push the gearbox into neutral.

Next, on goes the heated seat, which swiftly becomes gloriously hot – to the extent that I’m happy to turn it off by the time I’ve hit the motorway. And then the air conditioning, which is also impressively snappy. 

2019 Mazda 3 interior

After this, I reach behind the wheel to press a button that reduces the brightness of the digital speedo. As I return home in the dark, this is always blinding in the next day’s early morning light. My eyes are sensitive; it wouldn't bother most people, but this button is for me as helpful as it is unusual.

Then my left hand reaches onto the chunky centre console to twist and press a large dial, firstly to alter the brightness of the central screen and then to turn off the head-up display, which irritatingly comes on as default. My vision always wants to focus on the display, with the road fading out of focus – the opposite of how things should be. 

Mazda 3

Finally, I press the button next to the dial that selects my iPod (plugged into a USB port hidden in the large central bin) and off I go. 

Every time I do all this, it reminds me just how much better physical controls are than touchscreens and touch icons. There are no nasty fingerprint smudges in my car, either.

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