The new Mazda 3 is a perfect fit for enthusiasts. Its blend of brisk performance and energetic handling will be deal-clinchers for Mazda regulars who like to get a bit more but pay a bit less, and those buyers will be delighted with the economy, practicality and style also on offer.

This is a car that deserves to bring new customers to the brand. But road testing a car for a week often leaves you with a different perspective than living with it for several years might – and we have to account for that gap here.

It's a stylish-looking car, thanks to the company's ‘Kodo’ design language, but the interior needs to be more interesting

The best of the Mazda 3’s rivals manage to wrap their driver reward in a blanket of compliance and refinement, and the Mazda’s equivalent blanket is a bit thin.

The 3’s cabin is also a conservative, slightly mundane place, and too ordinary to land blows on the competition at the highest level.

Much as we like it, that’s why the Mazda 3 fails to infiltrate our family hatch top three, but it deserves a four-star recommendation all the same.

Many will appreciate its ride, ergonomics and straightforward A-to-B effectiveness. And many will enjoy this Mazda's style, too.