From £14,805
Beautifully refined engine in a comfortable and highly competent car.

Our Verdict

Mazda 3 2009-2012
Mazda's family hatch aims to close the gap to the Focus and Golf

The Mazda 3 hatchback is superbly refined and a more competitive package now previous faults are fixed

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What is it?

Mazda’s Ford Focus-sized (and to some extent Focus-based) 3 hatchback, now fitted with the 141bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine already used in the 5 and 6.

It comes in two trim levels: TS2 for £16,730, and the Sport version we tried.

What’s it like?

Refined. This isn’t the most powerful 2.0-litre turbodiesel on the market, but it’s one of the smoothest. It also never feels wanting for thrust, the 266lb ft of torque surging through from just 2000rpm.

Even when cold, the engine is never clattery. It builds revs smoothly, and will happily pull from 1000rpm in sixth, should you wish to behave like a minicab driver.

The chassis and brakes have also been uprated to cope with the extra power, but don’t be fooled by the ‘Sport’ moniker: it’s a trim level. Chuck it into a corner too hard and the body will roll, but it grips gamely. There’s the expected safety margin of understeer, but it doesn’t feel nose-heavy. The ride is excellent: comfortable and compliant.

In top Sport trim, you also get plenty of goodies: climate control, a six-disc Bose CD audio system, cruise control, 17in alloys and xenon lights.

Should I buy one?

We’d be tempted. It’s not hugely cheap, but next to an equivalent Golf it looks very reasonable. This is a car that you could grow to depend on.

Rory Lumsdon

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