For all its clever technology to aid economy and emissions - delivering a claimed 48.7mpg and 131g/km of C02 riding on 18in wheels as this edition does - it’s not the most perky of 2.0-litre petrol engines. Acceleration is linear and up to scratch, but doesn’t have the verve through the range that smaller petrol engines in the Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus do. The spec sheet says it achieves 0-62mph in 8.2sec and a top speed of 134mph.
Despite the Skyactiv-X’s slight underwhelm, the rest of the 3 package makes it one of the keenest driver’s cars in the hatchback segment, probably outsmarted by only the Ford Focus. Satisfyingly precise steering, a sharp, tactile gearchange and more than respectable cornering technique make this car enjoyable behind the wheel on every kind of route. That dynamic appeal inevitably compromises ride comfort - but, although firm, it has far better body control than some of its rivals.
Mazda’s interiors are a world apart from recent generations and are now pushing towards German premium levels while remaining distinctly Japanese in their feel. Joyfully, the rotary dial remains here for infotainment controls while others are controversially phasing them out in favour of touchscreens. The infotainment system, displayed on an 8.8in screen, is responsive and simple to use. There’s also a well-positioned head-up display.
The 3’s stylish ways suit the colour choices of this 100th Anniversary edition, with the burgundy palette helping you feel ensconced in this comfortable, well-specified interior. If visibility or rear passenger space is more your priority, best go for a more obvious hatchback choice.
The 100th Anniversary edition builds on the £28,940 GT Sport trim, which is already decked out with a 12-speaker Bose system, heating for the steering wheel and front seats, parking sensors, reversing camera and more. This 3 adds the aforementioned anniversary design tweaks, such as the 18in black metallic alloy wheels with 100 Years logo, and also brings a 360deg camera, driver fatigue monitoring and smart braking systems.