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Fleet World Fleet: Mazda3 2.0 180PS GT Sport

Pandemic and lockdown restrictions have meant I’ve not been able to really let the Mazda3 shine, after being restricted to local journeys; mainly urban school runs and supermarket trips.

A number of longer journeys over the festive period – all allowed under the rules – saw our long-term family hatchback come into its own

But a number of longer journeys over the festive period – all allowed under the rules – saw our long-term family hatchback come into its own and prove the merits of its 180hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder Skyactiv-X engine much more.

Compared to today’s downsized and turbocharged engines, the Mazda can feel less spritely around town, but get it out on open roads and it’s far more athletic. It’s an engine that you have to work and appreciates being revved – different to many of its counterparts today. But “give it some beans” – to nick a phrase given in advice from a colleague – and it comes into its own, as shown by a recent trip down the M3 to sort a work computer. At the top end of legal speeds, it was still highly responsive and able to quickly accelerate for overtaking manoeuvres. It’s not just the engine that’s engaging too – the steering remains well weighted, the six-speed manual is a joy to use and the chassis seems to strike an even better balance at speed between grip and comfort.

It may not always prove popular with those used to the lowdown performance of today’s heavily downsized and boosted engines but, for drivers, I’d thoroughly recommend a test out on the open road and give it some welly.

P11D (BiK): £27,180 (29%) MPG/CO2: 131g/km Test MPG: 41.3mpg

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.