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2014-03-28

2014 Mazda 3 – Like wine

Like wine, the Mazda 3 seems to be getting better with time. The first generation shook up the compact car segment when it was introduced in 2004 and ten years later, Mazda’s third generation Mazda3 is looking to do the same.

If you should happen to drive by a 2014 Mazda 3 as you are going down the road, it is almost certain that you will notice the car, and you will immediately know you have crossed path with the newest generation of Mazda’s compact vehicle. The new Mazda 3 is instantaneously recognizable thanks to its modern, sleek lines and aggressive features. Based on Mazda’s Kodo design philosophie, the 2014 Mazda 3 shares many visual elements with the Mazda 6 and Mazda CX-5 sport-utility-vehicle.

These include the headlights, tilted grille and creased body panels. In GT trim, the Mazda 3 comes with large 18-inch wheels that truly bring out the compact’s sporty character. Moreover, Mazda’s design team has managed to make the car look good in both sedan and hatchback variants, which is no small feat.

Inside, the Mazda 3 offers a rather bare center console and dashboard, but in this case, it makes everything look more modern, while at the same time making it easier to find what you are looking for. Most of the car’s functions are accessed through a center display screen using a large, round control button located between the front seats. Much like what you find in a German luxury vehicle, it takes a few moments to get used to everything, but once you become comfortable with the layout and menus, it becomes a lot easier to adjust the radio, access the navigation system if so equipped, and so forth.

We also have to congratulate Mazda for making the various menus and screens absolutely beautiful. We can tell the Japanese manufacturer spent quite a bit of time designing every component of the infotainment system, and the end result makes everything feel more refined. The same can be said for the new 3’s interior materials and quality. Everything fits perfectly together and looks like it will stand the test of time without difficulty.

If you are looking for practicality, then the 2014 Mazda 3 Sport (hatchback) is probably the way to go. Although interior space is about the same, the Sport variant offers a lot more cargo room with 572 liters behind the rear seats. The sedan does not do too poorly in that regard either with 350 liters of cargo space.

One major change associated with the arrival of the new Mazda 3 is the introduction of SkyActiv powertrains across the entire model range, as opposed to the technology being available only on one version as was the case on the previous model.

SkyActiv technology is Mazda’s way of offering fuel efficiency without compromising performance. To do so, Mazda engineers started with the engine and made everything work more efficiently by reducing friction, upping the compression ratio, and fine-tuning the exhaust. That makes it possible to extract the maximum amount of power out of each drop of fuel, so you do not lose any of Mazda’s renowned zoom-zoom fun, yet get better fuel economy across the board.

Mazda also redesigned both the automatic and manual transmissions, making them more compact and efficient. Finally, the chassis uses more resistant materials that also happen to be lighter. Weight being the enemy of performance and fuel efficiency, Mazda made sure to get rid of it as much as possible.

Two engines are available under the hood of the new Mazda 3. The GX and GS trims are powered by a 2.0L SkyActiv four-cylinder engine that delivers 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. This engine can be matted to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic gearbox that combines the best of a CVT and dual-clutch transmission. In GT trim, the Mazda 3 gets a more powerful 2.5L engine that delivers 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. The Mazda 3 GT sends it power to the front wheels using an automatic transmission only, but a sport mode is made available to increase the gearbox’s performance.

On the road, the Mazda 3 is truly a hoot to drive, regardless of the engine found underneath the hood. Steering is precise and the driver feels connected to the road at all times. That being said, the car feels more comfortable that the previous generation, and also happens to be more quiet. The seats also feel more comfortable, and driving the Mazda 3 for hours without getting tired is not a problem.

Conclusion

Overall, Mazda managed to make the Mazda 3 more efficient and more comfortable, while at the same time making sure that it was still a blast to drive. In other words, they kept everything buyers loved about the last model, but added remarkable fuel-efficiency and stunning good looks to the equation. No wonder AJAC named it the best car in its segment. Come in today and drive the brand new 2014 Mazda 3 at our dealership!


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