From Towcar Awards 2008

List price: £18,005 (when tested)
Kerbweight: 1485kg
85% Match: 1262kg
Maximum towing limit: 1500 kg
Towball limit: 75kg

SQUEEZE A BIG, beefy diesel engine into a small hatchback and you have an effective towcar.

With 141bhp and 266lb/ft of torque, the 3 accelerated from 30-60mph in 16.7 seconds. On the road that should translate into assured overtaking, though the gearshift’s notchy and at very low revs, power delivery is a bit flat.

Good stability

The Mazda was just as happy through corners as on straights, with a low peak reading of 0.7G recorded by the ATC unit. Our performance tester described the 3 as “agile and strong with good stability for such a compact car”.

It lost ground in the practicality test due to awkward boot access and the lack of a proper spare wheel.

Mazda has a good reputation for reliability. At £18,000, it isn’t cheap for a small hatch, but twist the dealer’s arm and that should drop to under £16,500.

Towing: 4/5
Solo: 4/5
Practicality: 3/5
Buying & owning: 4/5

Verdict: 4/5. Pairs a strong engine with good stability. A great small hatch.

Braking 30-0mph: 11.13m