Moves like Mo

UICK down the line, agile in tight spaces and handles corners with impeccable precision and control. No, not Liverpool forward Mo Salah – it is of course the all-new Mazda 3. The jewel in the crown of Mazda’s hatchback offering, this is a little more exciting than your average family hatch.

Compact, sophisticated and with devilish good looks, the Mazda 3 looks equally fitting driving to a fancy dinner reservation as it does picking up the kids from school. Aesthetically, there are enough sporty details – like sculpted, racing-like seats, squinting LED headlights and contrasting red accents – to relieve you of the feeling you’ve sacrificed excitement for practicality for the good of your clan.

However, with space for two car seats in the back, a 358l. boot and well-thought-out storage, it’ll seamlessly fit in with both the joys and chores of family life. Without challenging the size of some of its competitors in the SUV-crossover camp, the cabin is elegant, quiet and equipped with clever design details that raise the bar for the rest of its class.

A luxurious full leather interior complements the comfort and convenience of a well-kitted out cockpit, sculpted with optimum ergonomics in mind. The driver experience is exemplary and, as per Mazda’s modus operandi, refreshingly not over-stuffed with widgets and gizmos.

That’s not to say however that there’s not enough to keep you occupied. As I wound through the lanes of Forest, I managed to connect my phone to the 8.8in. touchscreen neatly chiselled into the upholstered dash and in a matter of seconds was enjoying my Spotify playlist on the 12-speaker Bose sound system.

The 3’s infotainment system bucks the touchscreen trend, opting instead for a control dial that is positioned comfortably at the end of an armrest that keeps the wrist and forearm in line and relaxed. The result eschews the distracting fumbling with unresponsive controls for the almost instinctive navigation of the system’s plentiful menu on a screen docked high enough that your eyes are never far from the road.

A clear and bright head-up display, showing your speed and speed limits, floats mystically in your eye-line, yet somehow melting out of view when you switch focus to oncoming traffic. Super-sharp graphics within circular screens give Pixar a run for their money, displaying vehicle diagnostics and other information (that I can’t honestly profess to know the full meaning of).

Once out on the west coast it was time to see how the Mazda 3 performed. It cornered confidently with minimal sway on bends at moderate speeds and the steering felt light and responsive. Whenever a leisurely cyclist or traffic lights made it necessary, the brakes pulled smoothly on the reins, bringing the 3 to a graceful stop without jerking.

En route back to Forest Road, brisk acceleration helped to carry it safely around the Guernsey Post vans out on their rounds and supple suspension took unavoidable potholes in its stride.

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