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Mazda 3 Fastback review

Andrew Unsworth
10 Dec 2014
Price when reviewed 
17,295
inc VAT, on the road

The Mazda 3 Fastback looks gorgeous and is packed full of desirable features as standard, but we prefer the Hatchback

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Specifications

We’re big fans of the Mazda3 Hatchback, but we’ve always thought the Fastback looks better, and while some may cry heresy that’s mostly because we think the Mazda3 Fastback looks like a 21st-century version of the venerable Ford Sierra hatchback. Sadly, the Fastback is a saloon despite its looks, but it has a fairly large boot with a 419-litre capacity with the rear seats up and a 1,263-litre capacity with the rear seats down.

Other than that and a length of 4,585mm compared to the Hatchback’s 4,465mm length, the Fastback is the same as the Hatchback, and that’s no bad thing. There’s a decent amount of room for adult passengers in the rear, plenty of room for the driver and passenger and plenty of desirable gadgets and features as standard, such as air conditioning, a 7in colour touchscreen multimedia system, USB connectivity and Bluetooth connectivity for media streaming and hands-free calling. The Mazda 3 even has two USB ports, which means you can use one to play music from a USB flash drive and use the other to charge another device or play music from a mate’s phone. You can even connect the car to a portable router such as the Huawei E5372 and use it find local attractions, hotels and so on, or get live traffic information so that the car’s satnav can offer you an amended route to avoid congestion. Other services include the ability to stream internet radio.

The Mazda 3’s 7in multimedia screen sits high up on the dashboard where it can be easily seen, but this does make it hard to reach. To control it you must use a joystick-cum-rotary controller surrounded by a few buttons. This is one of the best systems we’ve used for controlling audio and satnav functions, and is much better than the system used in the Renault Megane, but there is a lack of consistency in the way some of the screens are controlled which proves confusing even to seasoned users such as us. There are also plenty of controls on the steering wheel.

We drove a Mazda3 Fastback with a 2.2-litre, 150ps engine in SE-L Nav trim. This meant we missed out on the high-quality heads-up system and excellent Bose audio system fitted to Sport Nav models but still benefitted from dual-zone air conditioning, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, heated front seats and bi-xenon headlights. It’s worth buying a Sport Nav model for the heads-up display if your budget will stretch to it, but otherwise the SE-L Nav models give you all the luxuries you need.

The 2.2-litre diesel engine, which produces 380nm at 1,800rpm, produces enough shove for safe motorway overtaking, and it never felt sluggish. Mazda claims a Fastback powered by this engine will reach 60mph from standstill in 8 seconds, which seems plausible to us. Sadly, the engine’s diesel nature is betrayed by tell-tale ticks and a little bit of clatter, but you’ll only hear this at low speeds, especially when the engine’s cold, and certainly not on the motorway.

Mazda has dubbed all the Mazda 3’s engines Skyactiv, which means that they’ve been designed for lower fuel and power consumption, and to be as clean as possible. As an example of this, the 2.2-litre diesel’s auto-stop feature is quick to cut in when the car is made safe, preserving fuel when you’re stuck at a set of lights. The car starts off again with a chesty cough and slight shake, but it isn’t annoying and the engine restarts quickly. Mazda claims an extra-urban fuel economy of 80 mpg, but we averaged 60mpg when cruising around 70mph on a fairly flat motorway run, according to the Mazda 3’s trip computer.

The Mazda3 Fastback starts at £17,295 for a car equipped with the 120ps 2-litre petrol engine and rises to £22,545 for a 150ps 2.2-litre model in Sport Nav trim. The model we tested costs £21,745 on the road, and given the short jump in price to the Sport Nav model, we’d be sorely tempted to pay extra for the Sport Nav.

The Mazda 3 remains one of our favourite family cars, especially because it has so many desirable features as standard, such as its wealth of connectivity options. It really is excellent value. We have no hesitation in recommending the Fastback but we prefer the hatchback because it’s shorter and is easier to load with bulky items.