The Mazda 3 is available with a suite of SkyActiv powertrains including two petrols that start and conclude with a pair of 2.0-litre units with either 118bhp or 163bhp. There’s also a single 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel. Because the 3 will predominantly be bought by private buyers it’s the 118bhp petrol that’s expected to be the biggest seller, followed by the 2.2-litre oil-burner.
The base 2.0-litre petrol delivers pretty brisk on-paper performance and a 8.9sec 0-62mph time, but on the road it disappoints somewhat, needing a fair bit of slightly thrashy revving to deliver decent pace. But it certainly cruises with civility.
The 162bhp version of the same unit is an altogether more engaging experience. It makes the Mazda feeling considerably more lively and eager, with 62mph strikable in 8.2sec. It’s also more civilised at the top end of the rev range.
This engine features Mazda's intriguing (and oddly named) i-ELOOP system, which is effectively KERS for road cars. It uses a capacitor to harvest kinetic energy which can then power the electrical systems for as long as a minute, improving urban economy by up to 10 per cent as well as prolonging battery life. It uses no precious metals either, in contrast to hybrids.