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mazda 3 front angle purple
mazda 3 side view purple
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mazda 3 boot space
mazda 3 interior


  • Efficient diesels
  • Involving drive experience
  • Sharp looks
  • Mazda reliability


Arval’s pick of the range:

Mazda 3 1.5 diesel SE-L Nav hatchback


Mazda 3 - Overview

Mazda’s 3 is a five-door small family hatchback or four-door saloon, which Mazda calls Fastback. The Mazda 3 may not sell in the huge volumes that rival hatchbacks do, but it offers a seriously impressive package thanks to sharp, stylish looks, a keen driving experience, great build quality and excellent value for money. The Fastback retains all this and adds a larger, if less practical, saloon boot.


What is the Mazda 3 like to drive?

If there’s one area that Mazda excels at, it’s the driving experience of its cars. The Mazda 3 proves this point once again. Across the range the steering is light, yet offers great feedback and perfect accuracy. This means not only is the car fun on a Sunday afternoon on a twisty b-road, but this also makes it easy to place the car with confidence on the daily commute. Taking tips from its MX-5 sports car, the Mazda 3 also offers a supple ride with just enough body roll to let you know exactly how the car is behaving on the road. Mazda also works hard to provide strong and powerful engines, which are also refined, making longer distances easy and relaxing.



What engines and gearboxes are available?

Petrol engines:

  • 2.0 120hp, 119-129g/km CO2 (24-26% BIK), 50.4-55.4mpg
  • 2.0 165hp, 135g/km CO2 (28% BIK), 48.7mpg


Diesel engines:

  • 1.5 105hp, 99g/km CO2 (23% BIK), 74.3mpg
  • 2.2 150hp, 104-127g/km CO2 (24-29% BIK), 58.9-72.4mpg



  • 6-speed manual

6-speed automatic


Mazda 3 trim levels explained

Mazda offers its 3 in four trim levels; SE, SE Nav, SE-L Nav and Sport Nav.


  • 16” alloys
  • Aircon
  • Powered windows front & rear
  • Heated and power-fold door mirrors
  • 7” colour touchscreen
  • DAB radio
  • USB & Aux sockets
  • Bluetooth
  • Auto-dimming rear view mirror


SE Nav (in addition to SE)

  • Sat nav


SE-L Nav (in addition to SE Nav)

  • Cruise control
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Auto headlights
  • Auto wipers
  • Rear parking sensors


Sport Nav (in addition to SE-L Nav)

  • 18” alloys
  • Keyless entry
  • Front parking sensors
  • Reversing camera
  • Bose sound system
  • Leather seats
  • Heated front seats
  • Traffic sign recognition


How to spec the Mazda 3

While all the Mazda 3 engine options are efficient against rival offerings there’s an obvious company car choice – the 1.5-litre diesel. It’s an obvious choice because it’s the most efficient both in terms of fuel efficiency, with a claimed figure of 74.3mpg, and for emissions with a CO2 figure of just 99g/km. This version is only available with a manual gearbox, but that’s no bad thing as all Mazda’s manual gearboxes are easy and precise to use. As for the best trim level, SE-L Nav stands out as offering the best balance of kit for the money. As well as fleet essentials such as cruise control, aircon and alloy wheels, SE-L Nav also includes sat nav, rear parking sensors and automatic wipers and lights.

Mazda 3 Interior – what’s it like?

The cabin of the Mazda 3 is well thought out and strikes a perfect balance between clean looks and functionality. There are all the buttons you’d expect and no more. The standard touchscreen is simple to operate and allows all the less frequently used controls to be easily accessed. The materials are good throughout the cabin, but it’s the construction that most impresses with all the buttons and switches having a positive feel and perfect positioning. Up front the seats offer excellent lateral grip and in the rear there’s plenty of room for a couple of adults. The boot in the hatchback is competitive at 364 litres, but the Fastback version really shines with 419 litres available, albeit without the practicality of a hatchback opening.



Mazda 3 Alternatives

Alternatives include the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Peugeot 308, Nissan Pulsar, Toyota Auris, Citroen C4, Renault Megane, Honda Civic, SEAT Leon, VW Golf, Kia Cee’d and Hyundai i30.

The Verdict


Clean, sharp looks and a great driver experience make the Mazda 3 an appealing alternative in the small family car segment. What’s more it is very well equipped and keenly priced.