It's been three years since I handed the keys back on our last Mazda3, so I was keen to try out the Japanese marque’s latest incarnation of this popular car.
The outgoing model accounted for a third of the brand’s global sales – 3.5 million units - and now having spent a few weeks behind the wheel, I believe the all-new version will enjoy similar success.
Our 2.2D Sport Nav variant has a 148hp version of the Skyactiv diesel engine, which boasts CO2 emissions of 107g/km, a claimed combined of 68mpg and 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds. Mazda has announced that a more fleet-friendly 1.5-litre diesel engine is on the way.
Skyactiv is Mazda’s weight-saving technology, where the engine, gearbox, bodywork and chassis have been made using ultra-lightweight materials and innovative construction methods. These weight-saving measures have been designed into the Mazda3 from the outset and are there to improve the way it drives and increase efficiency.
The result is a car which has good acceleration through the gears, handles well and feels relatively sure-rooted on the road.
It’s also a good looking car, building on the sleek lines of its predecessor, which back in 2011 I was equally impressed with.
However, Mazda’s greatest triumph in the all-new Mazda3 is its new sat-nav system. Three years ago I said you would need to possess the eyesight of a bird of prey to focus on the information displayed on the monitor – a tiny screen set back into the dash.
This time there’s no need to be in possession of attributes akin to some comic book superhero.
The infotainment system’s 7-inch touchscreen puts pay to that. It’s easy to navigate thanks to a BMW-style toggle and a heads-up display on top of the dash behind the steering wheel also gives speed and directional information, while appealing to tech fans.
It’s also very much at home in an interior that feels solid and has a quality finish that compares to well to its rivals in this class.
Our Mazda3 has the optional safety pack fitted (£700), as well as metallic paint (£530) and black leather interior (£1,000), bringing the P11D value of the car as tested to £24,200.
The safety pack includes lane departure warning, automatic high-beam assistance and rear-vehicle monitoring which warns of cars approaching when the driver wants to change lanes.
It all combines well to give the all-new Mazda3 a fighting chance of replicating the success of its older sibling.