Mazda 3 review - talented family hatch, but lacks sparkle - Performance and 0-60 time

Mazda's C-segment contender should be taken seriously

Evo rating
Price
from £17,095
  • Good refinement, space, tech and diesel engine
  • Question mark about residual values, base models not so attractive

Until Mazda develops a new MPS model there's little of interest in the range when it comes to straight line performance, but against conventional mass-market rivals the Mazda3 fares well enough. It could be better, but for kerb weights that start from 1351kg - a good hundred kilograms heavier than basic models in several other manufacturers' ranges.

The slowest model is powered by the 1.5-litre petrol engine and though it never feels particularly tardy, its 10.8-second time for the 0-62mph sprint tells a story, one that involves just 99bhp and 111lb ft of torque. That engine isn't offered in the Fastback model.

The 118bhp variant of the 2.0-litre petrol engine is much quicker, at 8.9 seconds, but you need to use all of the rev counter to achieve that and the coarse engine note doesn't encourage such antics. It's considerably slower when paired with an automatic transmission too, posting a 10.4-second time. The Fastback can be had with that engine, and it's actually a tenth faster to 62mph for both transmissions, but it's the least impressive powertrain of the lot.

Mazda also offers a 163bhp version of the 2.0-litre petrol engine, which is more appealing at the top end than the lower-powered unit. It achieves a respectable 8.1-second 0-62mph time, but it has no more torque than the 118bhp unit so it too needs revs to get a wriggle on.

In contrast, the torquey 2.2-litre diesel effortlessly puts in an 8.1-second time and matches the petrol unit's 130mph top speed (eight seconds dead and 132mph for the Fastback) and in reality, for most drivers, it will be far quicker than the petrol units for more of the time, as it has a usable mid-range obviating the need for revs. That's just as well, as the diesel isn't as quiet as some rival powerplants. Its performance more than makes up for that though.

Most Popular

2022 BMW M3 Touring spied ahead of reveal
BMW M3 Touring
BMW M3 Touring

2022 BMW M3 Touring spied ahead of reveal

Photographers have spotted the upcoming M3 Touring testing on the Nürburgring before it reaches customers next year
14 Oct 2021
Car pictures of the week
Porsche 911 GT1
Porsche 911

Car pictures of the week

In this week’s car pictures, we step back to 2014 to look at the highlights from Henry Catchpole’s drive in the legendary Porsche 911 GT1
15 Oct 2021
2022 Honda Civic Type R spied – will it live up to its superb predecessor?
2022 Honda Civic Type R
Honda Civic Type-R hatchback

2022 Honda Civic Type R spied – will it live up to its superb predecessor?

The next-gen Honda Civic Type R has big shoes to fill, but first indications suggest it’ll have it sorted
13 Oct 2021