By: Candy Chung
The first time I’ve seen the all-new Mazda3 was at the Vancouver Autoshow. After checking out numerous vehicles at the show (and some are very expensive), I still felt Mazda3 had a premium and high quality cabin to compete with the premium brands.
Months later I had a chance to spend a week with the Mazda3 Sport hatchback, and here’s what I think of it.
The all-new Mazda 3 Sport has a rather controversial look. The front is quite stylish and sharp-looking but the side profile and back are harder to say. The C pillar above the rear wheels is thick; the rear windows are small and the back is just odd in my opinion. I’ve always been a fan of Mazda’s styles but not really this time. Mazda adapted their newest design theme to eliminate all harsh lines and body curves; as a result, the Mazda 3 looks like a pebble that has been washed by the waves for hundreds of years.
Equipped with Mazda Skyactiv-G 2.5L engine, the Mazda3 Sport produces 186 horsepower and 186 fb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a 6 speed automatic. New for this year is the available AWD but the independent rear suspension has been replaced with torsion beam. I’m thoroughly impressed by the handling and suspension. The Mazda3 now drives like a premium hatchback that is out of this league. Acceleration doesn’t blow my mind but it’s the handling that makes the drive fun and engaging. Cornering is sharp and suspension is compliant. Compared to other Mazda products, the Mazda3 actually has less road and tire noise and less vibration that is often felt inside the cabin. The Mazda3 is definitely a step above the previous generation and class-leading in terms of driving experience.
Mazda decided to remove touch screen functionality, so the only way to interact with the infotainment is via the rotary knob and the several hard buttons. For safety reasons, I can understand why Mazda made this decision but as a consumer, I prefer the touch screen functionality – it makes entering addresses much faster and convenient. The rotary knob works and the infotainment system responds faster than previous generation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are offered.
The 2020 Mazda Sport starts at $21,300 and the fully loaded AWD GT is priced at $31,400. The Premium package which is available to the GT trim offers a wide array of premium features such as 18″ alloy wheels, leather trimmed upholstery, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat with memory, color heads up display, rear parking sensors, keyless entry, navigation system, Traffic Sign Recognition System (TSR), HomeLink® wireless control system and auto-dimming exterior mirrors with memory seat link.
The Acura ILX is priced similarly and has a bit more horsepower at 201hp. Comparing the Mazda3 Sport and Acura ILX, I think the Mazda feels more upscale and has a much better interior. Personally I would pick the Mazda over the competition simply because it offers a good driving experience and a wonderful interior. The exterior is a subjective matter and I think for once the sedan version looks better than the hatch. I’ll be reviewing the Mazda3 sedan in the coming months, stay tuned for an update!