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Road Test: Mazda3 1.6D TS
Sector: Lower-medium Price: £17,495 Fuel: 65.7 CO2: 115g/km
Mazda is really hammering home the message that it is serious about fleet at the moment.
Already this year it has opened a corporate support centre to ensure decent service to corporate clients, appointed a new head of fleet and made steps to raise its profile among fleet buyers through mediums such as LinkedIn and sponsorship of Fleet World’s Fleet Academy.
There’s also been some movement on the product side too; the new CX-5 SUV has been well received thanks to its keen combination of price and emissions (the latter helped by the new SKYACTIV Technology) while the new Mazda6 range has just made its debut at the Moscow Motor Show, with the estate following at Paris a few weeks later.
There was also action earlier this year on the lower-medium Mazda3 range, although this isn’t a model which gains as much interest as the CX-5 or Mazda6.
Looked at from a pure financial point of view, it’s hard to understand why. The revised range is good value and the new 1.6-litre diesel engine has some decent figures - claimed combined fuel economy of 65.7mpg and 115g/km of CO2 ensure low tax bills for drivers thanks to a 17% benefit-in-kind banding for this financial year.
It’s a roomy five-door hatchback with a sizeable boot, well-made and solid interior and a decent level of standard equipment (six airbags, DSC dynamic stability control and ESS emergency stop signalling are standard on all models).
On the road it’s perky enough, with the 115bhp diesel engine pulling well enough from low revs, while the gearbox action is slick and encourages quick changes. In TS trim it does without the bigger wheels of the Sport model and this helps ride quality – our test car rode bumps and road imperfections well without sacrificing road holding talents completely.
So all in all the Mazda3 is a competent, comfortable and well-equipped model, but one which is lacking pizzazz. Even the Sport trim level which is now available struggles to raise much in the way of excitement, especially when user-choosers’ heads are full of Volkswagen Golfs and Audi A3s.
Without wishing to damn the 3 with faint praise, it is a car for people not overly concerned with image. For them, the front-end price and fuel and tax saving talents of the Mazda will shine just as brightly as having the right badge on the key fob.
14 Sep 2012 11:10