Mazda3 MPS21 | 04 | 2011Scotcars rating

    Don't worry, if you've got to transport the family but want a bit of fun, Mazda has the answer


    Just a few years ago, Mazda had a very limited range of not very interesting cars and were mere minnows in the marketplace. That has all changed – along with their logo — and now the brand has some real crackers, led by the superb wee reliable and exciting MX-5 sportscar.

    One surprise in the pack is the Mazda3 MPS, which stands for Mazda Performance Series, and certainly packs a punch while looking like a standard five-door family hatchback. Actually the test car, in stunning bright ‘velocity red’ metallic paintwork, looked the business and gave some sense of what lay underneath that innocent looking bonnet with its power bulge. At the back, the large roof spoiler hinted that it might have its work cut out keeping the beast on the road. It’s a lively performer and brings a bit of fire to what would otherwise be everyday motoring with "ma and the weans" safe and secure with plenty of room for all their trimmings.

    On the road

    The first thing I noticed about the car was even before I set off as a lovely burble burst out of the back through the dual sports exhaust with its large diameter tail pipes. Setting off simply added to the note and even just a touch on the throttle pushed me back into the sports bucket seats. What I liked about this car was the fact that it was largely understated – far from flash but with a strong pair of legs that could easily outrun a lot of more athletic-looking specimens on the road.

    Yes, it has a sports grille at the front and subtle side skirts but that’s about it, and if it hadn’t been wearing its red colour scheme, it wouldn’t really have stood out. On the road, it is great fun and I relished the power. I have heard some criticism that there’s so much being fed through the front wheels that it’s sometimes difficult to keep under control. I didn’t find that – exactly the opposite in fact. I loved it.  

    Comfort & Safety

    The understatement extended to the interior styling which again was simple, yet effective and businesslike. Mazda has established a deserved reputation for quality in construction and functional design and everything was clear and concise and just where it should be. The test car had the radar-based Rear Vehicle Monitoring system (RVM) which detects overtaking vehicles in the blind spot, but thankfully has to be enabled from the default ‘off’ position. Personally I found it a bit of a distraction and any decent driver should be aware of what’s going on around them at all times anuway.

    Mazda owners are very loyal because they get what they want and they like what they get – so they keep coming back for more. Most MX-5 owners have had one before and the 3MPS caters for the family driver who still wants to get some excitement behind the wheel.  

    Should you buy one?

    Family practicality but lots of fun too.

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    Alan Douglas    

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £22,595
    Engine / Power: 2261cc / 258bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 6.1secs, Max 155mph
    How big/heavy?: H1460mm, W1770mm, L4505mm / 1385kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 29.4mpg / CO2 224g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: 34E / Band K £245
    Alternatives: Audi A3; BMW 1 Series; Ford Focus ST; Seat Leon; VW Golf GTi

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