While you wouldn’t call the Mazda3 as mainstream as say a Honda Civic or a Toyota Corolla, it is definitely a car that should be strongly considered when looking at the compact car segment. Why, you ask? There are plenty reasons why. The first being, its not so mainstream, every other car on the road you see isn’t going to be what you’re driving. The second is because of the interior. I recently drove the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 and I’d have to say the interior of that is very comparable to the Mazda3′s interior. You could say that that’s saying a lot for the Mazda, or speaking very lowly of the Mercedes, but I assure you that it’s not an insult for either.
To say that this new Mazda3 is good would be an understatement. The Mazda3 is very good. So good in fact, that I had to try really hard to find something I didn’t like about it. Those items would be: the small tachometer, the out of place and slightly cheap feeling nav unit, and lack of power. That’s it! Thats all I was able to find I didn’t “like” about it, and that was me really being nit-picky.
So let’s tackle those issues.
1. Small tachometer
Its a compact car, so space is limited, so I can understand the need for smaller instrumentation. On the automatic version, however, the tachometer is front and center, which I think should be the other way around. If you’re driving a manual, you’ll pay more attention to your revs more than if you were driving an automatic, so naturally you don’t want to strain too much to see where you are. Given the layout for both setups are clean and look nice, this is something I think could be fixed in future releases. With that said, it’s most definitely not a deal breaker.
2. Nav/Infotainment Screen
While the quality of the screen is very nice, it feels as if it was just slapped on there. It’s almost like after they designed the dash, someone said, “Oh crap, we forgot to make space for a nav/infotainment center! Let’s just throw this screen on top of the dash.” It feels kind of sturdy up there, but I’d be scared some random dashboard cleaner at the local car wash would be overzealous with wiping the dash down and break it off. But the crispness of the screen makes you forget all about that.
The model I drove had Mazda’s 2.0L Skyactiv-G engine with 155hp, not your most powerful option. You could opt for the 184hp 2.5L engine, but then you’d be unable to row your own gears. The standard engine felt peppy, but it had nowhere near the pep that the previous engine had, which was disappointing. On the upside, it boasts a proud 40mpg on the highway, which is impressive for such a fun car. While you won’t be winning any stoplight drag races with it, the Mazda3 is a very fun car to drive quickly, so again, this is not a deal breaker.
So what does the Mazda3 do well? Pretty much everything else. The ride is firm, but comfortable, making it fun around town, and compliant on the highway. The interior is very nice as I said, with many qualities that point to a much higher class of vehicles. All soft touches are of high quality, and most plastics don’t feel cheap like some others in this segment. Seats are very supportive, and comfortable. It was very easy to find a comfortable seating position, and even though it’t in the compact class, the rear seats had a decent amount of legroom to fit a couple of adults fairly comfortably.
So, the Mazda3. A perfect choice for those who don’t want to buy an appliance. A car for someone looking for something different, fun, and honestly, a step above the other options out there. So the next time you’re out car shopping for a compact car to scoot around town, put the 2014 Mazda3 at the top of that list.