So what is this?
A small luxury car?
A stylish economy car?
A road racer’s everyday driver?
Mazda today is in the throes of change…as is virtually every manufacturer….but one thing that you can say about Mazda’s remodeled-for-’17 3 Series is that it’s been a Car and Driver Magazine “Best in it’s Class” every year that it’s been eligible. Not many vehicles can say that.
The reason? Mazda lives up to its’ slogan…..”Driving Matters”. Mazda is known to provide just a little more “feel” and performance than its’ competitors…and some would say a bit sexier style, too.
And why wouldn’t Mazda say “Driving Matters”? After all, on any given weekend, there are more Mazdas racing than any other brand. And that’s saying quite a bit for a company that’s rather small by worldwide standards.
So if that’s the case, why doesn’t Mazda sell more vehicles….and what are they changing?
I can only speculate, but as so many drivers seem to be looking forward to the day when they can tune out…kick back….and let their autonomous vehicle drive them to work, I wonder how many of us really care about performance and handling anymore?
So with an industry-wide movement that seems to be increasingly centered on creature comforts, Mazda is taking their lineup a bit more upscale.
The Mazda 3 Grand Touring 5-door hatchback that we got to test is proof.
For a high $20’s window-sticker we got an impressive level of luxury, starting with a perforated, heated leather interior with moonroof, 18” alloys, lumbar, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts, Bose 9-speaker audio, LED lighting, lane-departure and lane-keeping assist, auto high beams and a heated steering wheel.
Power comes from a 2.5 liter four and runs through either a six-speed auto, or a six-speed stick. We had the manual version, and found it so easy to shift that even stop and go traffic wasn’t a bother. The EPA rates this combination at 25 city and 33 Hwy. We averaged just above 30 in our usual mixed commute.
If you’d prefer a conventional 4-door to the 5-door hatch, you’ll save $1,250.
And if you’d be willing to sacrifice a little luxury and performance in order to save several thousand dollars and gain a couple more MPGs, Mazda’s 3 starts at under $20,000….and comes with a smaller 2.0 liter engine.
Either way, every Mazda 3 comes with Mazda’s standard tight handling and excellent feel. So if you’re one of those folks who still enjoy driving, and you’re looking for a fun-to-drive, nimble little vehicle, you may be shortchanging yourself if this isn’t at least on your shopping list. Then it’s your call as to just how much luxury you add to the whole package.