What is it?
Ballistically powerful version of Mazda's staid hatch: 257bhp and 280lb ft, in a front-wheel-drive hatch. And it's a Mazda!
Torque-steers tremendously. Then there's the understeer - even with the traction control on you're afforded just enough slide to get yourself alarmingly close to the nearest ditch. Finally, there's tramlining. Lots and lots of tramlining. The combination of which means it claws itself down the road on its own psychotic terms.
If you don't drive it like an ape, it's actually a pretty composed thing. Because it's The Sporty One, the suspension's a bit lower and it's been stiffened, but it still rides smoothly, the seats are relatively comfortable and there's room for four actual humans.
Manages 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds from its turbocharged 2.3-litre motor, that pumps out 257bhp and 280lb ft of torque.
On the inside
As practical as any mid-size five-door hatch in the Ford Focus vein. The boot is OK at 300 litres, but not huge, but if you utilise the 60/40 split rear seats you can create a flat floor and double the carrying volume. There is no reasonable reason why we should regard reverse donuts as a practical thing, but we do. This car is very good at reverse donuts.
As solid as any other Mazda product, so pretty good all round. Decent plastics, nice seats, great panel gaps. It's a solid car with a proven engine and transmission. Should be good.
This will be the most expensive Mazda3 to run thanks to that big motor and high-ish C02.