At £14,995, the base Mazda 3 S undercuts equivalent mainstream European-badged 1.6s, so it represents good value. A group 12 insurance rating should attract low premiums, too.

Its rated CO2 level of 147g/km is impressively low, and during moderate driving conditions around towns, B-roads and motorways, we averaged 36mpg, which is competitive compared with its rivals.

Vicky Parrott

Deputy reviews editor
Mazda has a hard-earned reputation for build quality

The 1.6 petrol Mazda sits in tax band F. There is an automatic gearbox offered with the engine, but just four forward gears make progress strained, worsen mpg and CO2 figures by 7mpg and 29g/km, thus moving it from tax band F to I.

For the 1.6 diesel, CO2 drops to 115g/km and tax band C, but you'll need to produce an extra £2200 for the privilege. Other engines include the 175g/km 2.0-litre petrol (which drops to 159g/km with Mazda’s i-stop stop-start system equipped) and the 144g/km 2.2-litre diesel. As expected, the 3 MPS isn’t exactly cheap to run or insure (group 34).

If immediate cost is an issue, the £14,995 Mazda 3 is a solid investment, offering a simple but functional interior, positive on-road characteristics and handsome looks.

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Mazdas have historically held their value well because they haven’t been sold in large numbers to fleets, but part of the company’s push towards lower CO2 levels has been to make the cars more fleet-friendly, with some knock-on effects to residuals.

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