The Saab is in for a service and Hughes, being also a Mazda dealer, loaned me this diesel Mazda 3. It’s really quite good.

Mazda 3 courtesy car in the snow, originally uploaded by stevenjbaker.

The 1.6 litre engine is astonishing. Matched to a six-speed gearbox, it can pull fourth on the motorway without seeming over stretched. Yet pop it into sixth at 50 mph and it pulls strongly, given full boot on the long travel throttle.

All the controls are crisp and effective. The clutch and brakes bite a little early and abruptly, but they are fine. The steering is stereotypically wooden, but not compared to our Civic Type-R.

The drive home included winding B-roads, motorway and the edge of town. The car was a pleasure throughout, or it would have been, had it not run out of screenwash on the dirty motorway, in the snow…

With its torquey engine, six speed gearbox and long-travel throttle, I imagine this car requires some effort to return poor fuel consumption, so worth a look, if you are in the market for a small, satisfactory car.

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