I try to write a review of every car I drive, but this is not always possible. In 2015 I missed a few, so here are my abbreviated impressions of these cars.
Something funny has been happening lately. Every time someone asks me for a basic vehicle recommendation, I find myself suggesting a Mazda of some kind more and more. Last year my sister-in-law bought a CX-5 and now my other sister-in-law is getting ready to buy a Mazda3. Internet car heroes say that the “Miata is always the answer” but maybe it isn’t?
Maybe Mazda is always the answer?
One minute after I started driving this car I was frustrated; the rear visibility was just bad. The visibility was a victim of the stylish side profile design, which raised the beltline from the front to back, making the base of the rear window significantly higher than the base of the windshield, as if the whole car was tilted.
Thankfully, there was not much else to dislike about the Mazda3.
The 2.5 liter engine SKYACTIV-G engine in this vehicle (2.0 liter is standard) makes 184hp at 5700rpm 185lb-ft at 3250rpm which, when combined with the slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission is a recipe for fun. It obviously isn’t very fast, but fast doesn’t always mean fun, and the decent for its size low-end power won’t force many downshifts in daily driving. Handling is just great, reminiscent of Hondas, before they got bloated. Mazda got the zoom-zoom right and while I haven’t driven any of the Ford ST twins, this is one of the very best of current FWD cars. It’s a shame that the Mazdaspeed3 is gone.
Visibility aside, the inside is a nice place to be. Everything seems well made and the seats were better than in a Corolla or a Sentra. The infotainment system is kind of like on an Audi/BMW, with a knob and other control down on the center console, but unlike the Germans it also has a touch-screen. The system isn’t most intuitive but it becomes much easier to use with time, once you program all of your stations and/or sync your devices.
Like other Mazda models, the 3 is handsome little car, although the front license plate location takes away from those looks. Its small size and torque-y but fuel efficient makes it fun to drive. There is a decent size trunk and room for two full-size adults in the back, and the price is very competitive. Did I mention how much more fun to drive it is than anything else in its class? Most importantly it proves that the Miata isn’t always the answer, but that Mazda just could be.
Mazda provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. Images: ©2015 Redusernab/Kamil Kaluski, All Rights Reserved