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

All-electric Ferrari confirmed for 2025 reveal
Ferrari badge
Ferrari

All-electric Ferrari confirmed for 2025 reveal

Ferrari has confirmed its first EV, but first three new models are due in the coming months
15 Apr 2021
Jaguar XJ41 – Dead on arrival
Jaguar XJ41
Jaguar

Jaguar XJ41 – Dead on arrival

The blighted ’80s ‘F-type’, the demise of which led to the creation of the Jaguar XK8 and launched a new era for Aston Martin
8 Apr 2021
Peugeot 508 PSE 2021 review – high performance hybrid takes on S4 and M340i
Peugeot 508 PSE – front
Peugeot 508

Peugeot 508 PSE 2021 review – high performance hybrid takes on S4 and M340i

New 355bhp petrol-hybrid 508 from Peugeot Sport Engineered has Audi’s S4 licked
14 Apr 2021