Mazda is once again going against the Volkswagen Golf (which just got a brand-new generation), Ford Focus, Renault Megane, Peugeot 308, Opel/Vauxhall Astra and other compact hatchbacks with the fourth-gen Mazda3.
Visually, it looks like an evolved version of its predecessor – and that’s a very good thing, because it’s still one of the best looking (if not the best looking) cars in the class.
The interior is very nicely put together, with plenty of soft-touch plastics and leather in upper trim levels. The infotainment system lacks a touchscreen functionality, but it’s very easy to control, even on the move, thanks to the rotary dial.
Now, as nice as it may be at the front, the rear passenger compartment is not flawless. Achieving that elegant silhouette on the outside has eaten up some of the space, so in terms of knee- and headroom, it’s going to be tricky to sit two tall occupants, while trying to fit three is an even bigger challenge. Other downsides are the small windows that contribute to a claustrophobic feel and the lack of air vents and USB ports.
Even with the 1.8-liter SkyActiv-D diesel engine, which puts out 116 PS (114 hp / 85 kW), paired in this case to a 6-speed automatic transmission, the 2020 Mazda3 feels chilled and refined, although you will have to press that gas pedal hard from time to time if you want to make quick progress.
Still, handling is one of the compact Mazda’s strong points, encouraging drivers to attack corners at high speeds. The ride quality is neither the best nor the worst in the class, but we’ll let the reviewer take it from here and guide us through the other aspects of the new Japanese hatchback.