AFTER several years of sagging sales in the UK the fortunes of the Japanese car maker Mazda are on the up and the recently launched very shapely new Mazda3 is set to provide a massive boost to company sales during 2014 writes Bryan Longworth.

Mazda3 2.2 Sport Nav Automatic Diesel.
Mazda3 2.2 Sport Nav Automatic Diesel.

Mazda3 2.2 Sport - A real sales booster

At the end of last year Mazda’s UK sales were up by a massive 50 per cent in the last quarter thanks to strong demand for the CX-5 and Mazda6 and now the all new Mazda3 with its renowned SkyActiv technology is expected to send sales sky high.

Mazda once enjoyed very healthy UK sales with a variety of innovative models including those powered by rotary engines but for various reasons including a lack of new models sales and market share in the UK seriously slumped.

But now the new third generation Mazda3 which is available as a hatchback and fastback and is arguably the best looking car in its market sector is set to become the car that is going to give Mazda which once had very close links with Ford a new lease of life.

For as well as its super styling which attracted many favourable comments from admirers during the test period the car has excellent handling and roadholding qualities along with a classy interior with its high tech instruments plus very competitive residual values.

This was my view after testing the Mazda3 2.2 Sport Nav Automatic Diesel hatchback which at £23,345 is the most expensive model in the range that starts at £16,695 on the road which had a top speed of 125mph a zero to 62mph time of 9.7 seconds and a combined fuel consumption of 58.9mpg.

It was immediately apparent to me as I started driving the new Mazda that not only was it a real looker but it was also a very enjoyable car to drive with well balanced electronically assisted steering plus a very lively diesel engine and a very smooth automatic transmission system.

I was also impressed by the roomy and well equipped cabin and the level of standard equipment which included rear vehicle monitoring, adapative front lighting, digital spedometer and head up display, premium Bose sound system and sat nav with seven inch colour touch screen.

The digital speedometer was easy to see in the middle of the instrument panel but I was rather irritated with the head up display which also shows the speed digitally on a transparent panel on the fascia in front of the driver because the speed reading kept moving up and down being difficult to see at times due to it moving and when driving into bright sunshine it could not be seen at all.

There is a reasonably sized rear load area which can be extended considerably when the rear seats are folded but there is no spare wheel in the space below which contains a puncture repair kit or mobility kit as Mazda calls it.

The latest Mazda3 is a big improvement on the model it has replaced and is set to take on formidable competitors like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra but there is no reason why it should not make a big impact in this market sector because it is such an overall good car.

So there is no doubt that Mazda is on a winner with the new third generation Mazda3 which has already won some top awards and that it is going to provide a massive boost for UK sales because it has such all round appeal.

Fact File:

Model: Mazda3 2.2 Sport Nav Automatic Diesel.

Engine: 2.2-litre diesel.

Output: 150PS @ 4500rpm.

Transmission: Six speed automatic.

Top speed: 125mph.

Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 9.7 seconds.

Fuel consumption: 58.9 combined.

CO2 emissions: 127g/km.

Price: £23,345 on the road.