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Mazda3

I’ll say one thing for the new Mazda3 … it’s claimed fuel consumption figure of 44.8mpg is way off the mark.

In fact, it’s far better than that.

How do I know this? Last Sunday, on the same day that Ben Stokes put Australia to the sword, I made a late decision to drive up to mighty Macclesfield to let my son treat me to dinner (as if).

England had just resumed batting and looked to be in with a chance, despite being bowled out for 67 in their first innings, so I thought that listening to the match on the car radio would keep me amused.

After all, it’s a long way to Macc from my house in Essex, 225 miles to be exact, but the drive is a great way of finding out how good a car is.

Let’s face it, they’re all good these days. It’s just a matter of picking one that’s gooder than the rest.

Anyway, before I left, I filled up the tank with normal 95 octane cooking petrol and set out on what proved to be a momentous journey.

Most of that was due to the team at Test Match Special, who delivered the most astonishing and brilliant commentary I’ll ever hear in my life. I may have been miles away from Headingley, but it was so exciting I could have actually been there watching it.

Miracle Man (Stokes) hit the winning runs as I approached a town called Brailsford, in Derbyshire, and I felt like stopping the car, waving to everybody and crying with joy.

Listening to that stand of 76 between Stokes and last man Jack Leach had gripped me so hard that I’d forgotten to look at the fuel guage.

When I did, after 180 miles, I got my second big surprise of the day. It was still showing almost full.

I couldn’t believe it. How could that be? Is this car running on fumes alone, I thought? It must be.

I stopped to check the car’s trip computer and discovered that it had averaged an incredible 52mpg, which is all the more amazing as it’s got a 2.0-litre engine and a top speed of 122mph.

Fair enough I hadn’t driven quickly because I was so fascinated with what Geoffrey Boycott calls “cricket” with the emphasis on the crick bit, but I’d still driven mostly at 65mph.

On the way home the next day, I decided that maybe there was something wrong with the fuel guage and that it would suddenly plummet to near empty, so I drove a lot quicker (not saying) and waited for the needle to do its impression of Tom Daley.

Needless to say, it didn’t. Even after a quickish drive home, the fuel guage had fallen to just below half full and the computer showed that, over the entire 450-mile return trip, I’d averaged 45.8mpg.

The official WLPT figure, which is noticeably meaner than old fashioned figures, but is a real world figure, is 44.8mpg. How could that be lower? Obvious. I drive like an angel.

I’ll leave the real reason to Mazda, who explain: “The All-New Mazda3 sees the debut of Mazda’s mild hybrid system.

“A belt-driven starter generator converts the kinetic energy recovered during deceleration into energy and stores it in a lithium-ion battery.

“A converter alters the power to the appropriate voltage to supply the car’s electrical system.

“Cylinder deactivation has been added to the Mazda3. The system automatically switches between two-cylinder and four-cylinder operation depending on driving conditions, shutting down cylinders one and four in light load situations, such as when cruising at a constant speed.

“Intake volume, fuel injection and injection timing are all precisely controlled so that the cylinder deactivation isn’t perceptible to the driver.

“The Mazda3 also sees the debut of G-Vectoring Control Plus.

“A world first, GVC varies engine torque to optimise the vertical load on each wheel to improve handling and comfort.

“GVC Plus takes this a step further by using the brakes to add direct yaw control, delivering smooth transitions between yaw, roll and pitch, GVC Plus improves the car’s ability to accurately track steering movements and crisply exit corners.”

Well that lot all certainly all works because the Mazda3 feels more like a sports car than the repmobile it’s destined to become as it quietly, smoothly and efficiently works its way around Britain’s roads in the years to come.

For a mild hybrid it’s surprisingly lively.

It’s a lot bigger inside than it looks, too. There’s more than enough rear leg room for adults, never mind kids, and the boot is an impressive 84cms (33in) deep, big enough for golf clubs and a trolley.

Fold down the rear seat backs and it turns into a completely flat loading bay that’s 168cm (5ft 6in) deep.

The entire interior is delightfully put together, with lots of piano black, knurled silver switches and soft touch trim right across the car, from the dash to the doors.

For me, I just wish the driver’s seat was a bit softer.

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IMAGE RATING

Mazda3 2.0 122ps Sport Lux.

REAR MIRROR MONSTER: So smooth and swept back, with narrow smoked LED headlights hidden inside a piano black housing under the bonnet, it could easily be the Mariella Frostrup of the car world.

BACKSIDE BEAUTY: More great tinted lights but the rear bulges out like a beer belly. Best viewed from the side.

PLAYTIME PLEASER: Touchscreen 8.8-inch sat nav with dashboard speed limit display, twin zone climate control, adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, front and rear parking sensors with rear view and 360 degree camera, trip computer, keyless start and entry, heated front seats and steering wheel, auto folding heated door mirrors, auto wipers and dipping headlights, head-up display, 18-inch alloys, Bose Premium DAB stereo with twin USB, Bluetooth, Apple car play and Android auto.

NAUGHTY NIGGLES: Annoying (for me) head-up display can be simply switched off, but comes back on again every time you turn off the engine. I’ve spent an entire week doing exactly that. Why? No shopping bag hooks in boot.

TASTY TOUCHES: Sliding centre-console lid merges perfectly with the gear lever surround to form an almost seamless connection. swish.

FAST OR LAST: Fast and silent, with great handling, at a surprisingly low price. Good value.

WOULD CHANTELLE LIKE IT? Definitely. With looks like that Chantelle couldn’t resist.

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