SOMETIMES car firms like to flatter to deceive. They fill you up with coffee and croissants and hand you the keys to a test car loaded with absolutely everything on it.
But then you thumb through the price list and you find the base car has little more than four seats and a steering wheel. Take the Audi Q5, for example.
Even rear cup holders are an optional extra costing £150.
So I was ready for Mazda when I climbed in the new Mazda3.
Here we go . . . head-up display . . . “How much is that?” I asked the PR man.
“Free,” he replied. “It’s standard on every model.” Hmmm. “What about the adaptive cruise control?” “Free,” he replied. “It’s standard on every model.” Blimey. “Apple CarPlay?” “Yes, standard.”
Meaning all three things I’d want in a family car are free, in a Mazda3.
But it gets better. The Mazda3 has a lovely natural driving position, with seats that support the natural curve of the spine. The cabin is trimmed better than Mr Bonsai’s back garden. And this Sport Lux auto has flappy paddles and a Sport mode. I do like flappy paddles.
And then there’s the 8.8in infotainment screen (cough BMW). And then there’s the windscreen wipers with integrated washer nozzles (cough Mercedes).
It all feels very premium.
Now let’s have a poke around under the bonnet. I like Mazda because it is run by engineers, not marketeers, who think differently. They believe higher capacity engines can be as efficient as smaller engines because they are less stressed.
This 2-litre petrol has a 24v mild hybrid system with 6kW battery that regenerates kinetic energy to add torque when setting off and smooth out gear changes.
It also has cylinder deactivation technology which drops from four to two cylinders under light loads to lower CO2 and improve mpg.
Later this year, Mazda will launch an even cleverer 181hp high-revving 2-litre petrol with the economy of a diesel. It will also add intelligent all-wheel drive. And a saloon.
As for looks, that’s your department, although I will say the front looks clean and sophisticated and very nice and the back is . . . ooh, urm, yeah . . . I’m running out of space.
At least you can’t see it when you’re driving.
But all in all, the Mazda3 is a brilliant car starting at £20,595.
Good things come in threes.
MAZDA3 SPORT LUX
Engine: 2-litre petrol
Economy: 122hp, 213Nm
0-62mph: 10.8 secs
Top speed: 122mph
Your chance to win
Long before Peugeot’s first car, in 1889, the French firm made horse clippers, roasting spits, sewing machines, coffee grinders, hammers, saws, trowels, pliers and screwdrivers.
It still sells tools today. For a chance to win this fine-looking DIY set – comprising cordless hammer drill, jigsaw and sander – follow me on Instagram @robgilluk and like this photo by 6pm on Sunday.
Winner chosen at random. You can see Peugeot’s full power-tool range at peugeot-outillage.com.
The white stuff
The world’s fastest milkfloat will be auctioned at Ascot on Saturday.
Engine: 4.2-litre TVR V8. Record speed: 84mph.
The bloke who drove it looks familiar. Ah, yes. It was moi.