BY RON SESSIONS, Contributing Editor These days, minivan-avoiders far outnumber…
Last summer, I spent a week tooling around (quite swiftly, if i may add) in the 2013 Mazda Speed3 five-door. It was a beautifully designed car…and quick. At that time, I confessed that I would have picked it over my Honda Civic Si had it been available back in 2007.
I was excited about the 2014 Mazda 3 as well because it was a big deal last summer when Mazda revealed the new design of its fan-favorite compact five-door (See: “2014 Mazda 3 five door gets Skyactiv, hatch hotness“). I’m a sucker for hatches. The new Mazda 3’s “KODO” design is impressively beautiful and forward-thinking for a car of its price range.
I recently got to drive the new model. It was largely a great experience, but there were a few aspects that left me longing for more power under the hood.
Loves about the 2014 Mazda 3 include:
- It’s a manual!
- The Mazda’s dual transmission technology makes driving incredibly smooth. Downshifting is a breeze without that direct injection hiccup that plagued my Si.
- The heads-up display (they call it “Active Driving Display”) is both convenient and simple, keeping distractions due to information overload at bay.
- The Mazda Connect module is nestled behind the gear shifter. This is the perfect position; with the volume button resting to the right-hand side of the control knob, as its exactly where a driver’s hand rests when not shifting.
- Something that taller drivers typically ping smaller cars for , Mazda escapes. The legroom width for the driver and pedal positioning is just right. Too many times I’ve felt my knee is rubbing against the center stack area while fighting to comfortably put my right foot on the accelerator.
- Mazda says the interior is designed with ergonomics in mind, and I believe it. The seats are comfortable and supportive.
My need for Speed3
Spending a week with the basic Mazda 3 this spring left me confident that this is still a great car at a great price. Car and Driver also vouches for the model I drove, awarding the Mazda 3 one of its 10Best spots for 2014. Despite the positives, I couldn’t help but be nostalgic for the Speed3 edition, and heres why:
- The stock Mazda 3 feels underpowered and lacks the sportiness that I look for in a compact hatch.
- Personally, I’d fork over a couple extra thousand bucks to get the additional design elements and the power.
- It didn’t have the same emotional impact for me as the prior model’s turbocharged edition did.
The interior is clean and simple without feeling cheap. There was only one element inside that I couldn’t get over, and that was the navigation screen that juts out above the center stack. It’s a bit distracting and awkward, as in, it doesn’t make sense why they would have plopped the screen on top of the dash like that. The Fiat 500 is plagued with the same unorthodox screen positioning. This could be a personal preference thing, but I much prefer an LCD screen that’s integrated into the dash design.
So, who should buy this car?
The Mazda 3 five-door is a great vehicle for a single adult, small families, couples with a puppy and/or luggage to haul. I would think that males in the 18-24 and 30-44 age range probably really lean toward this car because it’s fun, good-looking, affordable and practical without being flashy. Gals may not lean toward this as much because I think the design is more masculine, which I like. The previous model was more swoopy and this year’s model brings more creases and sharp lines to the design.
How about fuel economy?
For you MPG masters out there, Mazda’s award-winning SKYACTIV technology helps to maximize the efficiency of the car’s gasoline internal combustion engine. There are not one, but two, transmissions to assist in reducing fuel consumption.
The Mazda website says this swift ride can get drivers up to 40 miles per gallon on the highway. That’s definitely a great savings for your wallet if you have a long commute. City driving isn’t too bad either, with estimates at 30 miles to the gallon there.
What do you think about the 2014 Mazda 3 five-door? Could this be the next new car in your household? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.