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£19,690 when new
Road test score

Car specifications

Brake horsepower
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This is a good car. It’s essentially a Mazda3 saloon - think four-door Audi A3 or Merc CLA - though, in today’s world of confusing naming conventions, it’s actually called a ‘Fastback’, merging the hatch and saloon genres into one, fluid shape.

And it does look fluid, Mazda’s design language lending this 3 Fastback a svelte, clean silhouette. Underneath, we’re treated to a lovely 2.2-litre diesel engine, producing 148bhp, and you know what? It’s a cracking unit.

Relatively quiet and punchy enough to make the Mazda3 NotASaloon feel quick point-to-point. And when it comes down to the business of pointiness, it retains all the lovely hallmarks of the 3 hatch. Which means sure-footed handling, competent, capable and predictable chassis balance and great steering, if lacking a little feel.

The important thing to note here is that though the rear bench still isn’t as capacious as you’d like, the boot is cavernous: it’s 55 litres bigger than the hatch and therefore much more practical.
With good economy, a smooth and supple ride and a decent interior (if a little so-so in places), this is a great alternative to the Ford Focus and VW Golf. And cheaper than those pesky Germans. Make sure it’s on your shortlist.

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