2014 Mazda3 Grand Touring HD Video Review

 

Competition looms large in the compact car segment. The Goliaths are Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, and Honda Civic. The 2014 Mazda3 is David. It’s all new and looks awfully Italian for a Japanese car. I’m seeing a lot of thumbs up this week from the good folks in Seattle. The smile has been wiped off it’s face. In it’s place is what Mazda calls KODO “Soul of Motion” design.

2014 Mazda3 - 1Rememebr, Mazda is a pretty small company in the automotive world and they no longer partner with Ford. The 3 is their most popular vehicle and they had to develop it all by themselves.  No pressure there…

Choose between two very high compression engines. This mid-line Grand Touring has the smaller 2.0-liter four-cylinder. There’s 150 horsepower, it’s not especially torquey. Both transmission are six-speeds. The manual I’m driving is crisp and right as rain.

Speaking of, the weather has taken a nasty turn during my week with the 3. Go with the 184-horse 2.5-liter if you want more g-forces off the line. This 2.0-liter does 0-60 in around 8.5 seconds. Even in wet nasty conditions the 3 is confident in the twisties. Mazda3 is the best handling front-drive car I’ve driven in years. It’s not some optional sport suspension either. This kind of entertaiment is standard equipment.

2014 Mazda3 - 7Generally there’s a stiff price to pay for fun in the corners and that is of course is a stiff spine jarring suspension.  Not so much with the Mazda3. It manages to stay sporty and comfortable. Very commendable.

Like most Mazdas, road noise is on the higher side of average. The EPA fuel economy rating is 29 city, 40 highway. I’m seeing 28 miles-per-gallon driving it very hard. It’s doubtful you’ll do worse.

If the exterior gives off an Alfa Romeo vibe, the interior gets a rich purposeful German appearance.  Materials look and feel expensive even though the seats in my tester are synthetic leather. The display on the LCD display has a passing resemblance to the graphics on an Audi. It’s positioned squarely in the driver’s sightline with the roadway and can be controlled with a knob on the center console or by touch. Dual zone auto climate is nice.  I’m surprised at how small the tachometer is for a driver’s car.

2014 Mazda3 - 6Order the Tech package on the high-end Mazda3 and you’ll get i-ELOOP. This is not something that Oompa Loompa’s eat.  Simply put, it’s a capacitor based charging system. The alternator freewheels when cruising or accelerating. Lift off the throttle or use the brake pedal and it generate much more energy than the battery could accept.  The capacitor takes the rest and doles it out to the battery in manageable amounts. Mazda claims is boosts fuel efficiency by some five percent when loading down the electrical system. You know, at night, with the wipers going and the Bose system cranked.

Mazda3 doesn’t have the roomiest back seat in class but my 5’9” frame has just enough room to be quite comfortable back here. Door pockets are not a good place for hot coffee, keep it to bottled beverages there.  No pocket here on the back of the driver’s chair and the lack of a rear power port are pet peeves of mine.  Due to the significant structural spine, the phrase “two is company three is a crowd” applies here.

MY2014 Mazda 3For those who have a thing against usable practical hatchbacks, those people do exist, know that there is a sedan version of the Mazda3.  There’s a spare tire, not all cars get those these days. Valuables are kept out of site under the load floor.  The cargo hold is about average in class, the 3 scores a five in the T.P. Trunk test.

A base Mazda3 sedan retails for $17,700. This Grand Touring hatchback stickers for $24,635. Fully loaded, Mazda3 closes in on a spendy 30 grand, easily five to six large more than a maxed out Civic or Corolla. It’s apples to oranges though, the Honda and Toyota don’t offer radar assisted cruise control or an automatic braking system to help avoid head-on collisions.  Luxury technology that would be nice on wet rainy daya like the kind I’ve been seeing lately.

2014 Mazda3 - 4If all you need is a roomy back seat and a low sticker price, there are lots of appliances competing for your checkbook.  The 2014 Mazda3 is a premium tool much like David’s well-aimed sling. It’s a direct hit that takes on the Goliaths in design, dynamics, and features.

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