Mazda3 is the best-selling vehicle in the lineup, and it’s clear to see why. The 3 is fun to drive and with the new Skyactiv G-Vectoring Control, it really shows subtitle changes makes the 3 an amazing vehicle it truly is.
The 3 has always been a looker, with the new Kodo Design the Mazda’s signature grill and curves are present and outstanding. Over the years the 3 has gotten better and better with each generation with a little nip here and a tuck there the new 3 has a wider front grille which makes it look wider and with a new horizontal rear bar, the back looks meaner with a wider stance. With the GT model, there’s standard LED headlights and taillights that shares it looks across the Mazda’s lineup. Even the taillights are just beautiful with led surrounding the turn signals just like the daytime running lights up front.
Powering this particular model is the same engine found in the CX-5, with 184 hp on tap the 3 does feel spritely. It’s no sports car, it doesn’t give the punch found in a GTI for example but it’s not bad for an everyday hatchback. What’s more interesting is Mazda’s push for the vehicle’s dynamics more so than power. Power is nothing without control, and Mazda knows that. With the new 3, they have incorporated something they like to call Skyactiv G-Vectoring control. Essentially the onboard computers have sensors in the steering angle, G-sensor and throttle input to modulate the engine’s torque output. By varying torque the car can enhance the vehicle’s grip by changing the vehicles’ suspension movements. This isn’t torque vectoring, the 3 can’t use this to help the car rotate. Behind the wheel, the 3 feels amazing. Turn in response is great and the car doesn’t require much steering modulation to keep the car going straight or through corners. It’s a surprising driving feel that you would expect from a high-end company like BMW for example. The 3 can be easily placed in corners and into any turns, which would make it awesome out on the autocross or a track but even day to day it provides the driver with a feel of immersion and depth that’s not found in other vehicles. Sadly one of the downfalls is when the chassis is up for the fun the engine can be a bit lacking and with such an eager car it’s easy to get carried away. During my week in the city I averaged 10L/100km in real world driving considering it should get 9L/100km it’s not too far off but I wish it could of been better.
Inside the 3 is truly upscale, with the luxury package the leather is a rich, soft and plush. With contrasting stitching, it reminds me of the Mini I had the chance of driving a while back. With the same leather in the door cards and on the dash, the dash is reminiscent of BMWs a truly upscale feel. The gauge cluster is clear with a centre mounted tach and a heads-up display above. The heads-up display can show navigation information, speed and even warn about lane departing and car’s that’s in the blind spot. In the middle of the vehicle’s dash incorporates a floating 7” display that controls the vehicle’s media and navigation information. Overall the interior is similar to all other Mazdas the display, HVAC controls, and muti-media controller is exact same found in CX-5 and other Mazda products. Nothing wrong with this, sharing components is rather common in the auto industry and if it works why waste money and engineer and design new controls. With minimal flare everything works and is logically placed.
Behind the front seats the 2nd row is a bit cramped when comparing to the Civic, but move the front seats forward just a bit and you can surely enjoy a trip in the back of the 3 without much hassle. A downside with this particular model although beautiful is the colour of the leather. The white leather is fantastic when new. But after a couple of months with your favourite pair of jeans, it will slowly change to blue and dirt and debris will age the leather quickly. Luckily this is an option and there are other colour choices.
The Mazda 3 hatch hasn’t really had a much of a competition for a while as there weren’t any small hatchbacks in this price bracket that are as fun to drive but now with the addition of the new Civic hatch that might change. The overall driving dynamics might be better in the 3 but the Civic has the new efficient turbo engine which makes similar power but gets better fuel efficiency and with roomier back seats it’s sure to challenge the Mazda’s sales. With great styling and handling characteristics it’s able to win the hearts of many enthusiast but if you’re looking for a hot hatch or a fuel sipper this is not it.