Mazda 3 Sedan - gingerly optimised

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The Mazda 3 notchback certainly looks the part. There is not much general demand over here for compact notchbacks with the still popular hatchback posting far bigger sales figures. The modest success of compact vehicles carrying a knapsack on their back can be attributed to their ungainly proportions (viz. Renault Megane, Ford Focus).

With the new Mazda 3, however, the effect is different. The rising rear blends smoothly into the C-pillars and doesn't look at all ungainly - at least, not on the photos. For this reason alone, the new Mazda 3 Sedan is more reminiscent of a Mazda 5 Sedan. It all looks far more grown up and the design details borrowed from other models move it a lot closer to being a mid-range vehicle. At any rate, it's an attractive alternative for anyone contemplating the purchase of a Mazda 6. The 6 is currently selling like hot cakes so the resemblance of the 3 to its big brother certainly won't go amiss.

On a technological note, LDW (lane departure warning) is also available as an optional extra. Yet one more novelty in the compact class.