Since it was introduced in 2003, the Mazda3 has sold more than 3.5 million models around the world. It is the best selling car in Mazda’s range, accounting for a third of their annual sales.

Now in its third generation, the Mazda3 features the brand’s striking KODO – Soul of Motion design theme and the full-suite of their impressive SKYACTIV Technologies.

At first glance, the bold styling gives the impression of an exhilarating drive. In a market segment dominated by boring, “sensible” designs, the Mazda3 beckons to the discerning buyer looking to stand out from the crowd.

That’s not to say the Mazda3 is difficult to live with. On the contrary, the new dash is clean and easy to use, while the materials and craftsmanship are equal to those in much more expensive cars.

This current generation Mazda3 is the first to come with their new Human Machine Interface (HMI) that boasts nice safety and connectivity features. Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE advanced active safety technologies help in recognizing and avoiding accidents and the infotainment system easily merges all of your connectivity needs into the central screen.

Available engines for the Mazda3 include two versions of SKYACTIV-G four-cylinders. The base 2.0-litre produces 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque. Stepping up to GT models increases displacement to 2.5-litres and ups horsepower and torque to 184 and 185 respectively.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard on all models but a six-speed automatic is an option. Mazda3 GT models come with sporty paddle shifters and have access to a Technology Package that adds a regenerative braking system, similar to a Formula 1 car.

Enhancements to the body and chassis have made this Mazda3 stiffer and lighter. This ensures that it is fun to drive and tight city streets are a breeze to navigate.

The Mazda3 is not the cheapest in this segment, however it does offer unique styling and many nice standard features, making it feel like a more expensive car. Consider too its fun-to-drive nature and impressive fuel economy, then it’s hard to argue against the Mazda3. Rivals include the Ford Focus, VW Golf and the Audi A3.

What do you think about the Mazda3? Is it the best compact on the market today?