Buyers…are liars. How else to explain the Mazda 3? What does it not offer that people say they want? Refined styling. Luxurious interior. Powerful engine. All wheel drive. No CVT. Reliability. Pricing well under that of the Germans. There’s even a hatchback version. The car we received last week contains all of the above besides being a sedan, yet the newest Mazda 3 is enduring its worst sales performance in generations of being. Of course no car can be all things to all people but this situation is more baffling than most, given what’s on offer here that sets it apart from the flock.
As with most (all?) Mazda models, the styling of this one is expressive without being anywhere near over the top, derivative, or weird. From a clean and chiseled front end with Mazda’s signature grille to sculped bodysides with taught metalwork enveloping what looks like a muscular physique without any off-putting angles, there’s simply a modern and clean shape here.
Headlights and taillights are well integrated into the surrounding portions of the body with interesting details and shapes within their housings, and in this case the black wheels as well as black mirrors and small lip spoiler are meant to subtly evoke the athleticism of the powertrain and chassis.
Of course design and individual reactions to it are extremely subjective, but there doesn’t seem to be much here that’s objectionable or even questionable. Maybe the black wheels for some, but that’s quite easy to change or option out.
Interiors are something that Mazda have become known for over the last few years and in that aspect, the 3 certainly does not disappoint either. Finished here quite dramatically in black and white, the well-sculpted white leather seats invite a long stay.
Powered on the driver’s side while manually adjustable on the passenger’s, finding a comfortable position is simple, and dual memory options for the driver’s side ensures that the perfect position can be replicated. Seat and steering wheel heating is appreciated on cold mornings as well.
The dashboard’s spear of white across it with a minimum of obvious switchgear scattered about is refreshingly simple, although what’s most often needed offers quick access to itself. While the all-important 8.8″ screen is perched above, it sits in its own little alcove, rather than just appearing tacked on.
As with the Germans, most aspects of it are easily controlled using the wheel at the base of the center console with quick-menu buttons arrayed around it, however some commonly integrated aspects of the interior such as the dual zone climate control are in this case controlled via a separate small console in the middle of the dashboard.
At the base of the center console there’s a decent sized cubby fronted by two cupholders, then the shifter with the drive mode toggle next to it, and the multimedia controller aft of that. The knob to control the audio volume is just to the right of it and falls easily to anyone’s hand (and there’s a redundant and for the driver more convenient controller on the steering wheel). While the black surround at first seems solid, a little bit of light reveals a subtle patterning within it, adding more depth to its field.
The vents on the dashboard are well integrated to the shapes that they are apart of, from scalloped nacelles around the instrument binnacle to simple rectangles ahead of the passenger, all of them are simple there without being “there”. Similarly, the steering wheel with its phenomenally small center and superbly sculpted rim feels very natural within one’s hands.
All of the buttons on it are easy to comprehend and use with nary a glance, a comfortable position is easy to find both for its position relative to the driver’s seat and also in how it’s grasped without being too big or too small, too thick or too thin, just being right.
Similarly the instrumentation is simple, effective, and extremely legible without having (or choosing) to resort to gimmickry. In fact its biggest “gimmick” is that the center speedometer looks exactly like the analog physical gauges to its sides, yet it’s a digital representation. I’ve long enjoyed how Mazda’s technology will read a speed limit sign placed at the roadside and then illuminate a red hashmark to display that exact limit on the speedometer.
In this 3 it starts with that and expands on it by taking the needle and when it passes that speed limit point’s hashmark, seems to pull a small red digital “thread” around the dial from the limit to whatever the present speed may be, making it quite obvious just how much of a transgression may be in play by the driver. Simple and effective, yet subtle.
In the same vein the distance-to-empty gauge and the fuel economy gauges/graphs just flanking the speedometer are elegantly clean in their displays, making the information easy to interpret and obvious at a glance.
That white spear of contrast on the dashboard continues into the doors where it is interlaced with the door controls as well as some of the 12 speakers of the Bose audio system with again, simple, yet effectively styled, aluminum grillework and handles.
The front seating area is comfortable if not overly roomy, I fit fine but without an abundance of extra space. The sunroof surround was close to but not touching my head, and while the pillars are slim, the windshield is heavily raked so the top of the screen is closer to one’s head than in some other cars, especially non-sedan shapes. The sunroof’s opening in fact seemed mostly behind my head the way I sit in the seat, rendering any benefits of it fairly useless for me, although it then adds more light to the rear part of the cabin.
In back the overall ambience is the same as in front with comfortable and attractive surroundings. For me and my 6’1″ height with 32″ inseam there was just enough legroom to fit but not to move around much once seated. My head did touch the ceiling and while it wasn’t overly uncomfortable, it wouldn’t make for a great long distance position either. If you’re a little shorter, consider yourself lucky in that regard and this car might fit you extremely well.
A bigger issue affecting anyone is that there are no rear vents or power ports back there although perhaps access is possible to the ports under the front’s center console armrest. There is though a fold-down armrest with cupholders for liquid refreshment.
The trunk lid opens to reveal a good sized trunk with an aperture that’s decently sized and less of a slot than in some others, but it’s not exactly the longest trunk lid either. At least the depth of the cavity itself is good, and under the floor resides a temporary spare tire. There are also easily accessible levers to pull that will release the rear seatbacks 60/40 for extra carrying space.
Underhood is Mazda’s answer to everyone that used to complain about the perceived lack of power in their vehicles, namely the turbocharged SkyActiv-G 2.5 liter inline-4. As one of the few to do so, Mazda publishes two power figures depending on which gasoline the user prefers to provide, so in the case of regular gas being used, the engine will return 227hp@5,000rpm and 311lb-ft of torque @2,000rpm. If premium is used those figures increase to 250hp and 320lb-ft at the same rpm levels.
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While walking in my neighborhood recently, I saw this car in dark red and had to go over to walk around it and check it out. I was extremely impressed with the design, features and sophistication of the car. Comparing it to its competiition, it comes off as taking a passenger car in the compact class to a much higher level of design development. Great review here but the the dark color and wheels of the car photographed hide the outstanding looks of this car.
Mazda was previously considered competition for Honda, Toyota, etc. and it was priced accordingly. Now it is suddenly supposed to be a premium brand competing with BMW and Audi. Why? How?
Sales of all sedans and small hatchbacks are dropping. Civic and Accord sales still lead their segment, but are down compared to previous years. Mazda3 sales are down based on its segment and it’s attempt to move upmarket at the same time.
This is indeed an attractive car. And you are absolutely right – buyers are liars. Everyone says what they want (like a brown station wagon with a stick shift?) but very few buy them. People mainly buy what makes them look socially acceptable. And Mazda is not really one of the brands that says that about a person.
It is a little bit amazing to me how Mazda has managed to be the market leader for over 30 years with a sports car that appeals to almost every demographic, yet the rest of their lineup has never really blossomed despite offering oft-compelling cars. I will raise my hand as being as guilty as the rest in not buying them when it was time to put my own money down.
Exactly. We are a two-Mazda family; CX-5 and CX-9. They are as luxurious as entry-level Audi’s and have been far more reliable. As for maintenance costs – an oil change at the dealer is less than 80 bucks; the glorified oil change at the Audi dealer was six times that.
All I can figure is that people either want to display their disposable income via front grille emblems, or they are buying Toyota and Honda as the safe Japanese choices. The irony with respect to the former is that the entry level German models from the Big 3 are no better than the Japanese now – tinny bodies; loads of plastic in the interior, and four-cylinder turbos, all for at least 10 grand more.
Oh, what fools these mortals be!
I can’t argue against the value proposition vs. Audi, but the CX5 and CX9 are at a distinct disadvantage in rear seat and cargo capacity vs. the Honda and Toyota competition. That won’t matter to everyone, but for the last 8 years those have been important metrics in a family vehicle to me.
True – the Hodan Pilot and Toyota Highlander have more space and in particular a better thrid row than the CX-9. For me, those attributes were less important than the driving dynamics. I wanted a three-row CUV that doesn’t feel like one on the road. I have the luxury of grown children now, so I could make that choice. The latest generation of Pilot and Highlander are much better in that regard, but I don’t think I’d make a different choice today.
As for the CX-5; I don’t think there is as big a difference between it and the CRX/Rav4; althought the latter’s hybrid model is a bit of a hot rod. Since the CX-5 is my wife’s, I didn’t care, bt if that were my vehicle I might have sprung for the Toyota.
Very nice review. I’m a fan of a light-colored interior, so this is really appealing. Shame the 3 doesn’t get more attention.
Looking forward to the new Mazda 6 coming next year with the new inline six cylinder. I just have this feeling it will be very good, receive multiple accolades, and still be an afterthought to an Accord or Camry.
The Audi A3 seems to be the clear bogey here – the center console layout is identical (down to the satellite volume control knob), as is the HVAC control layout and position. Unfortunately, Mazda is chasing a very small niche here – The A3 is one of Audi’s slowest-selling models.
The compact luxury segment is a small and dying segment – most people don’t want to spend $35K+ for a compact car like the Audi A3 when for a few bucks per month more that get a larger A4. This is America, and bigger is always better, amirite?
I seriously considered getting a Mazda 3 before getting my A3 a few years back. At the time, the turbo engine was unavailable, which was a dealbreaker. But even with the turbo, I noticed other “random acts of cheapness” that belied the Mazda3’s economy car roots, like lack of a passenger-side power seat, or the missing rear-seat air vents and power ports. Yes, the A3’s MQB platform is also shared with the Golf and Jetta, but it does a much better job of hiding its economy car roots.
One also expects a certain amount of image when buying a luxury car, and again this is where Mazda comes up short. The German compacts (A3, CLA, and 2-series) all carry a certain amount of cachet that the Mazda3 does not have. I suspect that the 3 would do slightly better if it carried a Lexus or Genesis badge.
In the end, I decided it was better to get the real deal, which is why got a lightly used CPO Audi A3 rather than buying a new Mazda3 for the same money. I suspect many other Mazda3 buyers are doing a similar amount of cross-shopping.
Mazda going upmarket is the same mistake VW has continually made. The only benefit is (probably) more reliability and less expensive parts and service.
That said, if they offered a decent mid-level trim of the sedan with a stick shift, I would be very interested. They could corner that (admittedly small) segment, but sales is sales, right? They already have all the red-tape done with the lone sub-model they offer it in the US with.
As I was – they no longer offer the manual at all for ’22.
When my older brother went shopping for a small sedan recently, I suggested he check out a Mazda 3, which he did with me along for the test drive. We were both impressed with the quality and luxury feel of the interior fittings which surpassed that of higher-end brands, and the car drove nicely. But that wasn’t enough to overcome three obvious drawbacks:
1.) the Mazda dealership experience is seriously lacking. My bro lives in a small city that didn’t have a Mazda dealer which was a major drawback for him. I live in a larger city that is reasonably close to a Mazda dealer, but it’s shared with a Ford dealership and an old one, which didn’t bother displaying any Mazdas in the showroom. These guys want to be a entry-luxury brand?
2.) The sedan is attractive, but the hatchback (hunchback) is hideous.
3.) Outward visibility is strikingly poor. Look how tiny that driver’s door window is. The beltline is very high, and I had the feeling of being a little kid sitting behind the wheel of my parents’ car. Visibility is especially bad in the hatchback, with the huge C pillar and narrow hatch window creating a huge blind spot.
My car history includes four Mazdas, but I’ll pass on this one.
I don’t know if they want to be an entry-luxury brand per se, but at least offer the in-car experience of the segment without the commensurate price tag and thus differentiate themselves that way. On that aspect I think they deliver, I can’t think of another car in this class that for this money delivers what this one does. The Audi, MB, and BMW are all quite a bit more when equipped the same way and even the canard of comparing it to a previously owned one of those falls down once it’s realized that sooner or later these too will be available used, presumably for less than the new price. Mazda unfortunately did suffer when they had to abandon their Amati sub-brand idea three decades ago as the cars they produce now could easily fill that vision.
I did notice the small (short?) window apertures myself, for me there wasn’t a visibility issue as my head is near the top of the window already, this could perhaps be an issue for others. The hatchback as compared to the sedan does in my opinion have very poor visibility out the back window as you noted. I too prefer the looks of the sedan in this case, which is rare for me when there’s an option.
The dealers do seem to be hit or miss, when I myself looked at a Mazda a couple of years ago, the dealer facility wasn’t on the level of the Europeans either – but similar to the other Asian brands here in town – Our Ford dealer happens to own our Mazda dealer as well, but at a completely standalone dealership. I reasoned that they might have more incentive to bargain and that I’d hopefully have little need to return for repairs down the road.
I myself have owned two Mazdas (626 and Miata), enjoyed them both and thus keep Mazda on my radar.
You nailed our two reasons for passing on the 3, despite all its good points. We had a terrible experience at two Mazda dealers when car shopping a while back. The 3 is good enough to fight through that, but we’re in the market for a hatchback, and the current one’s outward visibility is just unacceptable.
I too notice the short windows when I bought a 2018 and nothing has changed along those lines today. Really bugged me and made me feel like I had to look over a wall. Ah, but there was a solution. Like Jim, I too am 6’1″ tall, but with a 34″ inseam. That means my torso is 29″ while Jim is at 31″. His eyes are higher than mine in the car. I took a look at the seat and saw the lever to raise height and apparently it is set to the bottom by Mazda. I worked that lever raising the seat the max amount. My head did not hit the headliner and I felt so much better taking the car out for a drive. It truly made a big difference to me.
Yes, and that is the reason I include both measurements, so people have context in that regard. Most people taller than myself just have longer legs so they end up with less rear legroom if measuring behind themselves but may fit just as well or better in front. There is almost nothing more useless than reading a review that talks about how roomy or not roomy something is for the reviewer without the reviewer stating their own dimensions.
The first thing I need to do in almost any vehicle that isn’t a large truck, SUV or Van is figure out how to make sure the seat is all the way down. And not having a sunroof often makes a big difference.
I’m only 5’8″ but that wasn’t why I felt like I was sitting in a recent Camaro. Yes, I adjusted the seat upward. Even with my head not much below the sunroof, I still felt like a little kid sitting in Daddy’s car. The short height of the side windows and the tall cowl just make it feel claustrophobic inside, and I’m not a claustrophobe.
I hear you, hence the reason I’d never suggest anyone order a car without trying it on for size or driving it. I’ve wedged myself into a recent Camaro too, the 3 (for me) was significantly better than that, I did not find it comparable to that at all.
The Mazda3 is very much like the claustrophobic Camaro. (I wish that car had the roof proportions of the 69, not the chop top it has now). Compare the Mazda3 cowl to the low cowls of Honda’s in the 90’s. I don’t get it. It’s style over function. But ultimately a car is to be driven and not sit in a corner and look pretty.
Mazda historically offered rotaries, racing, Miatas, and competitive products at cheap prices on the piston-engined sedan and the small truck sides of things. Together, these elements used to drive buyer interest, a specific public image, and a large coterie of passionate “car people” influencers to encourage others to try or buy. Car magazines played up the various advantages of the Mazdas (as does this retroesque report full of hard and useful information, along with useful driving impressions), and readers paid attention.
For so many reasons, little of this plays out to Mazda’s advantage any more. Rotaries are history, and sports of all sorts have much less following these days. Car magazines and on-line substitutes have lost their broad influence. Miatas are the answer to any question, according to their acolytes, but that appears to be a closed group, as open top two-seater roadsters are not so coveted by large groups of buyers any more. Mazda has ceded the “cheap but good” sedan metric to the Koreans. Yet the upscale, low-key competence and brilliance of the Mazdas tends to fall on deaf ears. While Toyota and Honda thrive off of decades of consistent product supplied in identifiable nitches, and effectively use Lexus and (less so these days) Acura to fill the upscale end, Mazda has lost its old image without having effectively replaced it with a new one. Extreme competency only goes so far in an upscale position, as some version of brand hunger also has to be established among the pool of buyers, and it simply isn’t there for a Mazda.
As a huge Mazda fan, I have no answers for their marketing dilemma (as if they were asking the likes of me). Cars still go beyond the nuts and bolts, paint and performance, and must make an obvious and specific visual statement if they are a specialty brand (think of Volvo back when and Subaru today). Mazda does “best in class” In sedans, but they really don’t stand out and make enough of a visually distinct identifier for themselves. Part of that is because the sedan classes have many solid entires, and the design limits of such products are now tightly defined and leave little room for easy distinctiveness. Remember, too, that Mazda went for a distinctive look for its RX-8, and it was largely panned, which may have chased Mazda back to a certain level of design conservatism.
That was a great take, Dutch, and encapsulates it quite well, thank you. “Retroesque” review, eh? 🙂
“Retroesque”, to me, means that your reviews allow me to understand what to expect from the car, so that if I were to test drive, lease, or buy, little would be unexpected or different than what I had learned from your review.
Old time car magazines did a good job of this, but somewhere along the line, they became shills for the manufacturers, and the “road tests” became proxies for manufacturer press releases. Little real-world useful information can be gleaned from them. The manufacturers have actually lost a good feedback loop on their products, by not having these retroesque reviews widely available, and largely reinforcing each other, on what knowledgeable test drivers really think of the cars.
I think it is fair to say that your reviews, Jim, are consistently the best and most useful recent work I have seen in the realm of road test evaluations. I look forward to reading each one, as I see it posted in the CC queue.
I’ve seen a few of these on the roads here. The gunslit windows does give it a bit of a chopped-top look, but then that’s consistent with the trends these days. And yes, the hatchback is unfortunate, given that would inherently be my preferred body style.
Nothing stays the same. The sporty sedan market is croaking, and the German Big 3 are selling theirs almost strictly on brand image, which Mazda just doesn’t have.
It just occurred to me: this is the spiritual successor to the brilliant 2004-2008 Acura TSX.
To me, the questions are: what do the majority of compact sedan buyers want, and is it more productive to chase the heart of the market long dominated by Honda and Toyota, or fill a niche?
It seems mazda tried to be an alternative to Toyota and Honda throughout the 90s and early 00s and was always second fiddle. Then the Zoom-Zoom niche, and we know how that went. Now the budget luxury niche…and we’re seeing how that is likely to pan out for the sedans. Good thing they have the CX5.
The reasons for Mazda’s failure to launch despite their merits has long been a subject of speculative chatter in the forums. I don’t know what the real reason is. I shopped a 2010 and 2014 Mazda3, liked the way they drove, but the backseat was too small compared to the Civic, Corolla, and Jetta. The current 6 is a strong candidate in my opinion, and I’d probably own one now instead of our 16 Camry XSE if I’d found a good one on the market when I was looking.
This Mazda3 looks superb. From an aesthetic, emotional, perceived quality standpoint there’s nothing remotely close. We have a local dealership and it’s modern and attractive and far more upscale in approach than the Toyonda. If I wanted an automatic compact car, turbo or not, I don’t see Toyonda unseating this.
Warning: Buyers-are-liars rant ahead: Shame the manual is available only in the upper trim non-turbo hatchback. VW, Honda, and H/K offer more powerful handling-oriented trims with a stick shift for similar or less money. If they want to sell as many manual turbo 3s as brown diesel station wagons, they’d better get with the program.
The women in my family (wife and adult daughter) are Honda drivers. We cross-shopped the Honda, Toyota, and Mazda for a recent lease. There was not enough of a margin between the cars for the Honda loyalty to be overcome. The Honda was “good enough” for the task. Anticipated resale value kept the lease payments low. A history of consistently good Honda experiences won the day. I don’t think any competing car could have captured the deal, as long as the Honda was perceived as good enough and worthy.
Interesting, and therein lies the hurdle small companies like Mazda must overcome with shoppers.
Can I ask what models and trims were being compared between the three brands?
Base models all, 2020.
We never test drove the Mazda or Toyota, as the CR-V was deemed “good enough” on the test drive, and that was that. Had there been any significant faults with the Honda, then we would have kept going. The only things that are not ideal (to us) are the bulbous rear lights and the weird center console slider-door-panel thingy. Also a blind spot area around the big overhead center panel structure and windshield blackout area. All small nits, really. Big center dashboard knobs for the radio volume and a/c controls are most welcome.
That describes the modern buyer to a T, build something that doesn’t piss them off and they will come back to look again, if that new thing is at least the same and hopefully slightly better than the old one it’ll be a repeat sale, it doesn’t matter how good Brand X may be as it’ll never be looked at. The sale in this case is Honda’s to lose, not everyone else’s to win.
Honda has earned — and I do mean earned — incredible owner loyalty by building solid, hassle-free cars (excepting the V6-automatic transmission failures). My sister drove an ’85 Accord for 13 years, followed by two Odysseys, a CR-V, then two more Odysseys. I don’t see her ever driving anything but a Honda. Better than my other sister, who for some inexplicable reason, keeps buying ugly Nissans.
IMO the blame for the lack of sticks is the fact that damn near every car sold today is bought off a lot. The dealers have no incentive to buy anything with a less than 20% take rate that has any chance of staying on the lot even an extra couple weeks. This also accounts for the neutral drab paint colors.
I’d absolutely go buy almost any sub$35k car with a stick, even a relative stripper, but even for brands that technically offer them (eg Subie) they’re incredibly rare on the lot and itt harder/ slower to place an order than it used to be.
So it recognises speed limit signs. Will it recognise my collection of CDs in the dash?
My retired Parents own a ‘17 CX-5 Grand Touring (rare FWD model). It’s extremely competent and premium feeling. They love it. The big “but”, however, for Mazda in my estimation are two very obvious flaws.
For one, they all are small feeling in their defined categories. Back seat space in the CX-5 and the 3 are really tight relative to their competitors. At 6’1” I can only go so far to say the parent’s car is only “tolerable”, and it’s a CUV. The other problem, as others pointed out, is the dealer network. It’s nowhere near as large as Toyota/Honda/Nissan levels, and in my experience, you are more likely to find a bad one over a good one. That itself is a complete deal breaker when you are trying to market a superior product. I’m also of a time and place where Mazda’s across the board rusted faster than you could imagine, and that only recently has changed for the new driver demographic. The first 3’s and 6’s could be ate up by year 5.
Let’s not forget that there is a car market outside the US. Here in NZ, every other car seems to be a Mazda, and globally Mazda 3 sales are only second to the CX-5 in Mazda’s fleet. Not saying that Mazda is a particularly successful brand, or that my anecdotal evidence is meaningful, but I wonder if there’s a different perspective that could apply here?
To be fair, I recognise that the majority of CC readers are from the US.
Australia sounds like NZ. No surprise, eh?
Mazda 3’s are all over the place here. The 3 used to be duking it out with Toyota’s Corolla for top selling ‘small’ car, year after year, back in the days of the first and second-gen models. Maybe they mightn’t be selling quite that well nowadays, I don’t keep up with the figures, but they’re still a commoner sight than, say, a Honda Civic. There was a kerfuffle in the magazines when this generation 3 came out, about Mazda going upmarket. Thing is, Mazda had established its credibility (‘fan base’?) with the previous 3s here; they could pull it off, as a cheaper and more reliable alternative to the Germans. But does everybody necessarily want to be moved upmarket? No.
But it’s a shocker to see there’s no more room in the back of this car than in my old ’05 hatch. And for Jim to be mentioning road noise tells me they still haven’t addressed the number one flaw of the first-gen model; very much a problem with our road surfaces in Australia. So it seems like a lot of new tech and premium goodies in a nice body, but…..
Same here in Austria, where Mazda is the best selling Japanese manufacturer…
Mazda have replaced other competitors at the top of reliability ratings and over here do not even offer the excerable CVT trans keeping to real auto boxes
If they learned how to make a reliable diesel I’d be keen but their diesels are problematic and not reliable.
My sister just bought a CX5 after 10 years in a 6 sport, yes they did try other makes as rentals and test flights but gravitated to the trusted brand again, I should have bought her old car 6K under retail value for a top of the range car with everything sounded like a deal to me but it was dependent on the tradein offer and the dealer got it.
I spend my days in Auckland traffic and Mazdas are everywhere here.
It’s not a CVT in this car, I don’t believe Mazda offers one over here either.
If only the nearest Mazda dealer wasn’t 81 miles and an hour and a half away, I would have been very willing to shop there for a Mazda 2 or 3. VW, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, KIA and Hyundai are 15 minutes away.
Bingo. Can’t sell wares where you don’t exist. We haven’t hit online car shopping quite yet.
For me, the 3 had too narrow a cockpit and not enough room in the back seat. I don’t carry rear seat passengers often, but when I do, I want them to be comfortable. And I want to be comfortable too. Chose a competitor compact car that had about 2″ more width for my knees (yes, I brought a tape measure).
“Pulling the gear lever (a normal one, no dial, monostatic nonsense, or buttons just to be different)… ”
Thank you, Jim. Some manufacturers should take note.
Obviously a great car but the styling makes the side of the car look like it’s dented. that would be a deal breaker for me.
Check out the side of the new Toyota Highlander. That’s pre-dented also.
I seriously considered the Mazda 3 hatch but two things kept me from pulling the trigger: bad visibility, and the lack of any protection for the (admittedly good-looking) shark nose front. I live in the land of street parking and only had to wait a couple of months to see a neighbor’s new 3 collect a nice dent on the nose.
Opted for a 2-year old A4 and love it, but if it were a (well-styled) hatch I’d be even happier.
Once more I’m stricken by the chasm between here (Austria) and there (the US). Here, Mazda is the best selling Japanese maker by far with Nissan I believe the 2nd, Suzuki the 3rd, Mitsubishi 4th, Toyota (yes, that Toyota) 5th with Honda, Lexus and Subaru closing the list with paltry numbers too embarrassing to mention (Infinity is not even being imported into Austria). I’m not sure what percentage of sales is represented by the 3 but the model is visible out there; not in big numbers but it really only started to sell last year and then COVID-19 happened, so. Perhaps the disparity between us and North America is that Mazda (in particular with its sedans) produces the most European-feeling car with suspension calibrated for driving through curves rather than for comfort; my previous model 3 rides like a VW Golf GTI which may not be what buyers look for in the US but here is acceptable (or better).
Oh, this discussion is never complete without mentioning the Camry: we now have had the US-made model in its hybrid variety on sale for a year and so far I have not seen even even one on the road…
I honestly don’t understand why Mazdas aren’t more popular, especially after reading consistently positive reviews like this one. Across the product line, they’re very good looking, have exceptionally nice interiors, especially at their price point, and drive extremely well, particularly if you’re an enthusiast. The Mazda 3 should be clobbering the hideous Civic, bland Corolla and craptacular Sentra, but it isn’t. Beats me why.
I’ve been a Mazda fan for years, even before I bought my ’91 Miata in 2015. I put my money where my mouth is and bought a leftover 2018 Mazda 6 turbo in September, 2019. Got a smoking deal, but that’s not why I chose it. I bought it for all the reasons above, and I’m completely satisfied. In a sea of SUVs and crossovers, my sleek sedan stands out, and I like going my own way. I just wish more discerning drivers would consider a Mazda. I feel like they deserve greater success.
I get an impression that Mazda is making a better BMW than BMW these days.
The dash screen in this car seems ill-suited for navigation. It looks 3x as wide as its height. Wouldn’t you want to orient a street map so forwards was upwards on the screen? That way, forward on the screen = forward on the road. This panoramic screen layout would give you a short view ahead and long, useless views of side streets you’re not taking. Seems like a triumph of style over function. This is why I still use an iPhone on a dash mount, and why vertical screen layouts are better for navigation.
Mazda needs more dealers and perhaps stores, in retail areas, like an Apple store or a Tesla store. The one Mazda dealer shut near me, now it’s about 50 miles either way… and this is Northern California, where there is such a market for foreign cars.
I’ve recommended Mazdas over and over -and it’s close to winning with several buyers who ultimately wound up in Volvos. In my opinion, the negatives are just: No power folding mirrors. No premium dealership experience. Otherwise, it when I tested a CX-5, it felt better quality than my friend’s Q5. So close… and heck, they’re killing it with the CX-30 and 5, so maybe the sedans are just to fill a niche. They are beautiful machines.
Late to this one, but just acquired a 2013 i SV base sedan, 2.0 148 HP MZR engine, 5 speed auto. Not the Skyactiv engine, this engine dates back to ’04 and the trans first appeared in 2010.
The car was practically gifted to me, after driving it for the last month and a half it really is quite nice to drive and has impressive build quality. It won me over, she’s a keeper. The ’86 Jetta is now enjoying a well deserved retirement. Back seat space is tight, I’m 6.0 and have about one inch of knee room when sitting behind my properly adjusted front seat. But I rarely carry passengers so not an issue. The fold down rear seats are nice, Jetta has fixed backrest.
It was time to upgrade, and this car basically fell into my lap. Even came with new tires and battery, and 6 airbags, stability and traction control, 4 wheel disc brakes with ABS are all good things to have, hard to believe it weighs over 700 pounds more then the Jetta. Seems to get about the same MPG, but of course with 58 more HP is a lot more lively.
Nice review, too bad Mazda sales are slow, reliability for the Mazda3, at least 2nd gen, seems to be very good.