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Long-term review

Mazda3 Skyactiv-G - long-term review

£24,595 OTR/£25,385 as tested/£237pcm
Published: 16 Jan 2020
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Actual maths

The Mazda’s average mpg is tanking. When we got it a couple of months ago, the needle seemed to settle around 44mpg, after a few hundred miles of 46mpg. This makes sense, we thought, given Mazda claims 44.8mpg combined, and WLTP numbers tend to be more accurate than NEDC ones (I mean, that’s the whole point of them). 

Then after 1000 miles or so, despite no real change in where/how it’s being driven, the numbers began to tumble. Through 40 and into the high 30s. The average falls with every journey, too, be it a not-so-economical crawl through London or a long, clear motorway run, suggesting it’s consistently doing far less than 40mpg. As I type, the Mazda thinks it’s averaged around 34mpg in the time we’ve had it. That is not acceptable for a modestly powerful, front-wheel drive manual hatchback, is it? 

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So this month we’re going to do some actual maths, and manually calculate the 3’s mpg to see whether the trip computer is busted, or if the 3 really is suddenly using a lot more fuel for some reason. Trip computers are usually out by a bit. Some manufacturers are worse than others - JLR ones are typically out by ten or more per cent, though our Velar’s wasn’t too bad. But to be out by 10mpg? Something isn’t right. Either the Mazda is disappointingly uneconomical or its trip computer (or something else) is broken. Tune in soon to find out which one of those things it is. 

What else is going on in Mazdaland? My colleague Ollie Marriage stuck it up against the other Ollie’s Ford Focus and a facelifted Vauxhall Astra. Despite me lobbying hard for a Mazda win, in the end it finished second to the Tesco Value Focus. Mainly on driver appeal - the Mazda has the nicest cabin and is by far the best-looking, but while it’s good to drive and comfortable, it doesn’t feel quite as professionally set-up as the Focus. 

I get it - Fords have always been the best ‘ordinary’ cars to drive, ever since the Mk1 Focus came out in 1997. The gap is narrower now than ever, though. The Mazda gets close, but ultimately finishes second to a very good car indeed. I’ll take that.

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