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Mazda3 a step up in class

AFTER the relative disappointment of the Chrysler Ypsilon last week, it was good to get into a car with decent size and styling. In fact, if things had been different, I would have done a lot of distance in the restyled Mazda3 as it appealed to me as a very well-priced and attractive take on the family compact car.

The test car had the 1.6L diesel engine which returns a massive 65mpg and is in the lowest road tax band.

The car was brand new so both the engine and gearbox were not as flexible as I would like; and in many ways for the city driving I do I would prefer the petrol version.

The car was light and roomy throughout and feels much more refined than previous models. The Mazda3 has handling on a par with the Ford Focus but is better styled and equipped. The marque can often be overlooked on shopping lists, but shouldn't be. It really has got its act together and the Ford influence is clear.

The test car came in at €23,645 for the Sports SE model which is a bit of a misnomer as the car it is more confident than sporty. However, there are 17-inch alloys onboard along with auto a/c, Bluetooth, cruise control, rear LED lights, sports seats and trim, heated seats, side skirts, front fogs and a 5-start Euro NCAP rating.

The car had distinctly improved and gives a really good drive. The Mazda3, which starts at €19,795, is an ideal all round family car.

Campbell Spray

Sunday Independent