Car Dealer announced this week that the Used Car Awards will be back at The Brewery on November 29 as the government road-map paves the way for the celebration to take place one again.
Used Car Awards host Mike Brewer and the Car Dealer team will be handing out awards once again face to face if the government’s plans allow.
To celebrate, Brewer looks back at one of the winning cars in the last digital awards – our Mid-sized Car of the Year, the Mazda 3.
Here’s what the Wheeler Dealer star had to say.
When it comes to popular car types, they don’t come much more popular than the mid-size category.
Here you’ve got the family-favourite Ford Focus and the legendary VW Golf. You might think one of these would win our Used Mid-Sized Car of the year category, but you’d be wrong.
Me and the judges believe the cracking Mazda 3 is the best of the bunch, and a quick drive on the roads near my workshop – which you can watch above – proved we were right.
The thing about the Mazda 3 is it might look and act like a family hatchback, but appearances can be deceptive as this is almost like a sports car with a big boot for your dog.
The driving position is real highlight for me – you sit very low down and when you have the steering wheel extended all the way out into your chest, it feels very sporty.
Speaking of sporty – the six-speed manual gearbox is sublime!
It uses the the DNA from the famous Mazda MX-5, and with its stubby lever it’s really wonderful when you pull it through the gears. If only all manual gearboxes felt like this!
Of course, there’s no point in having a sporty driving position and a great feeling gearbox if it’s hooked up to an engine from a washing machine.
Mazda has always been a master of engines and I remember the amazing Wankel rotary engines in the RX-7 and RX-8, but the engine available in the Mazda 3 is really, really clever.
It’s called Skyactiv-X and it’s a 2.0-litre petrol engine but it has a real trick up its sleeve.
It uses Mazda’s patented Spark Controlled Compression Ignition – or SPCCI – where a lean mix of fuel and air are compressed to a very high pressure.
A spark then ignites that small amount of fuel, which raises the heat and pressure in the cylinder, making the remaining fuel ignite under pressure. The fuel then burns quicker – so better performance and fewer emissions.
In basic terms, this is that dream combo of a petrol engine that has the emissions and fuel economy of a diesel – didn’t I say it was clever?
It’s clever but also fun. It races up to 60mph in eight seconds and goes onto 134mph thanks to 178bhp – and yet it gives around 49mpg!
It spins up to the redline quickly and when you get it on-cam, it’s really nice. It sounds like a petrol yet performs like a diesel – magic!
It’s all wrapped up with that famous Japanese reliability that you always get with Mazdas, too. It feels bullet-proof and like I could detonate it between every single gear change!
This car really does walk the catwalk – it looks glorious from every single angle. Many cars in this category all look the same but you can’t say that about the 3 as it really is one of the prettiest cars out there. I particularly like the front-end with the black pack fitted – it looks so distinctive.
The handsome styling continues on the inside with a great looking cabin. It’s built well too; the fit and finish is superb and the quality of the materials is very premium.
There’s loads of kit too – no matter which one you go for 16-inch alloys, air conditioning, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. And get this – Mazda even throws in a head-up display for free!
Brand new it’s not the cheapest family hatchback around but it makes up for it for the reasons I’ve described. Prices start at just under £22,000 but used cars kick off at £16k, which isn’t too bad at all.
It’s a worthy winner of the Mid-sized category, that’s for sure.
To find out what else won in our awards you can visit this special Used Car Awards section or watch the full awards ceremony below where I road test all our cars of the year.
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