The Mazda 3 is a competitively priced car whichever way you look at it. With prices starting at well under £17,000, there are only a handful of cars in the class that undercut it – and not many of those come with a seven-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth and electric windows all round as standard.
If you’re looking for a very low-priced, sub-100g/km diesel, this clearly isn’t the car for you because there is no small-capacity oil-burner. But Mazda does offer you a 2.2-litre, 148bhp diesel for the kind of money you might have spent on a better-equipped 1.6 TDI. And that’s not something to complain about when the 2.2-litre diesel in question will still top 60mpg on a gentle touring run.
We don't usually recommend it, but going for the full-house Sport-spec model is probably the right way to specify your car. You get a better stereo, a headlight upgrade, 18-inch wheels and a head-up display, and all for a relatively modest premium.
It’s disappointing not to see a more favourable estimate on residual values from our sources, however, because this car deserves better. But our testers did note one or two concerns about panel thickness during the course of our test.
The Mazda's bodywork felt quite thin in places and might possibly be more susceptible to dents and scrapes than would otherwise be the case.