Mazda Mazda3 2019 front left cornering shot

Mazda 3 review

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There’s plenty of quirkiness to be found in Japan: toilet seats that sing to you and sushi delivered by model trains, for example. Likewise, the Mazda 3 has always tended to do things a little differently from other cars in the family car market, and the same is true of the latest generation.

Firstly, there are its looks; this stylish five-door hatchback channels the stunning Kai and Vision Coupe concept cars of 2017, with smoothly contoured surfaces and a sloped roofline that tails off neatly into its rear screen. It’s a world away from the more angular designs of rivals such as the Skoda Octavia.

Styling isn’t the only area in which the Mazda 3 follows a different tack from its rivals; just take a look at the engine line-up. While its key competitors, the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, have moved towards smaller, turbocharged engines, the 3 sticks with an old-school 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine. But don’t go thinking this entry-level engine is archaic. Named Skyactiv-G, it uses cylinder deactivation technology and a clever 24V mild hybrid system that uses electrical assistance to help improve fuel economy.

Things will get more interesting later in the year when the innovative Skyactiv-X compression ignition petrol engine – which is claimed to provide “the fuel economy of a Mazda 2 with the performance of an MX-5” – will become available. Diesel power is also represented in the range by the 1.8-litre Skyactiv-D, and Mazda 3 variety will increase further when a saloon bodystyle and four-wheel drive become available later in the year.

Clever technology is one thing, but the Mazda 3 needs to be a seriously accomplished all-rounder if it’s to succeed in this hotly contested class. Read on over the next few pages to find out how it compares with rivals, and we'll also tell you which engines and trims make the most sense.

And if a new Mazda 3 has piqued your interest, visit our New Car Buying pages to see how much you could save without the effort of haggling.

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