Mazda 3 long-term test review: report 6

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

Channel Tunnel 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

30 April – Head and feet

You often hear football fans complain that their team plays too functionally – focusing on defence and then just hoofing the ball up the pitch – rather than in a slick and exciting style.

Flair is all well and good, but what if piling on the style ends up getting you relegated? A compromise must be made, and exactly the same goes for cars. By definition, a family hatchback needs to have a big boot and plenty of space in the back for the kids.

Now, I swapped the tick-all-the-boxes Skoda Scala for the splendidly handsome, supposedly sportier Mazda 3. There was more than enough room for two adults in the Scala, but it's not so comfortable in the 3 because your knees are much closer to the front seats. And, while the 3's sloping roof looks suave from the outside, it touches taller passengers' heads on the inside. 

Mazda 3 rear head room

I must say that, at only 5ft 8in tall, those things don't bother me too much. I do notice the kinked-up window line, though, and no doubt children will find their lack of an easy view out at best disappointing (unless they're more focused on iPads now than spotting car makes like I used to do), and at worst sickening (literally).

Oh, and if you're weighing up these two cars, you can read a full comparison in our group test here.

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