Rivals to the Mazda 3 are the Hyundai i30, Ford Focus and premium hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Golf.
Our Mazda 3 Review covers:
The Mazda 3 is often overlooked in the hatchback sector with such strong rivals, but this stylish small family car is well worth considering. The latest Mazda 3 model competes with the Volkswagen Golf for its overall driving experience and looks, thanks to its sporty design, sharp features, dark grille and prominent LED lights.
Inside, you'll have no issues getting comfy upfront with a generous amount of space and plenty of adjustments. Unfortunately, the Mazda 3 can't quite match its rivals for overall practicality. Its low roofline intrudes slightly on the rear passenger space, making the cabin feel a little dark, and limiting rearward visibility. However, Mazda also offers a Mazda 3 Saloon version that doesn't feel so cramped if more space is required.
As for luggage space, the Mazda 3 has a boot that can hold up to 351 litres, expanding to 1,026 litres with rear seats down. The boot space itself is well-shaped, and the rear bench folds with a 60/40 split to reveal extra storage space, making it a great small family car option. Overall capacity, however, is less than you'll find in the Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus, however, the Mazda 3 Saloon version offers an improved boot space of 444 litres due to its taller roofline.
The Mazda 3’s interior is excellent with plenty of soft-touch materials, chrome trims and solid switches, rivalling the Volkswagen Golf for pure plushness. Plus, every Mazda 3 comes with an eight-inch colour screen controlled via a rotary controller and built-in sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and an eight-speaker sound system as standard.
Five models are available, including SE-L, SE-L Lux, Sport Lux, GT Sport and GT Sport Tech.
The entry-level SE-L trim comes with automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors and 16-inch alloy wheels. Inside, you'll find a leather steering wheel, air conditioning, height-adjustable front seats and lumbar support for the driver. Plus blind-spot warning, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist as standard.
The SE-L Lux model has the same features as the standard SE-L but adds rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and a CD player.
The mid-spec Sport Lux trim adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a different grille with black and silver sections, tinted windows, along with features carried over from the SE-L Lux trim.
With the high-spec GT Sport trim, you get the same black and silver grille as Sport Lux models, along with faux-leather door trim and heated leather height-adjustable front seats with electric adjustment and lumbar. Plus, a heated steering wheel and a 12-speaker Bose stereo.
The top-of-the-range GT Sport Tech model includes everything above but also includes cross-traffic alerts (RCTA). This system monitors how alert you are behind the wheel and helps stop you from falling asleep on long journeys. It also has automatic emergency braking, which works when you're driving forwards or in reverse.
Under the bonnet, the Mazda 3 comes with a choice of two engines; a 2.0-litre E-SKYACTIV G MHEV for 122hp and a 2.0-litre E-SKYACTIV X MHEV with 186hp. Six-speed automatic transmission is optional on every powertrain except the SE-L and Skyactiv-X SE-L Lux versions.
Mazda also offers a Mild Hybrid system as standard across the Mazda 3 range. The clever mild hybrid and cylinder deactivation technology mean 40mpg is easily achievable, making it for a more economical drive.
Out on the road, the Mazda 3 is excellent to drive, its driving position offering decent visibility and quick access to the controls, which are easy to navigate. Mazda's engineering beats the Ford Focus for overall ride quality, springing and damping, however, the Volkswagen Golf still tops them all as the most comfortable family hatchback.
Prices for the new Mazda 3 start from £23,020.00 OTR* or to lease from £210.46 per month.
Want to know more about leasing the Mazda 3? As one of the UK's leading providers of car leasing, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts has a wide variety of lease deals on the Mazda 3, including the full manufacturer's warranty, breakdown cover, road tax and free mainland GB delivery (exclusions apply).
Plus, with fixed monthly rentals, a low initial outlay and flexible mileage and contract terms, leasing a new Mazda 3 could be cheaper than buying outright with dealer finance or bank loan.
*'On the road' price is correct at time of publication and includes one year's road fund license, DVLA first registration fee and number plate fee. Prices are subject to change. Always check with your nearest retailer.