You have to wonder if Mazda knew the success the Mazda 3 was going to have when they introduced the car for the first time 10 years ago. At the time, Mazda was betting that buyers would fall in love with the new compact’s driving dynamics, good looks and refined interior. Well, consumers did just that, and now Mazda is preparing to unveil the model’s third generation.
When something, anything, is doing well, you do not change it, you improve it. That is exactly what Mazda did with the new 2014 Mazda 3. They kept the vehicle’s fun, sporty personality, but infused it with better fuel-economy and a much nicer looking overall style. The end result is a car that was named best in class by the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada, and that so far has garnered praise from every media that have had the opportunity to drive it.
You will know right away when you see the new 2014 Mazda 3. Mazda’s design team took the traditional, bland compact vehicle styling norms and through them out the window. The Mazda 3 is now inspired by Mazda’s KODO design language, and the model has never looked better.
The Mazda 3 shares its front end with the new Mazda 6 and Mazda CX-5. That means you get an aggressive look up front with stylish headlights, a forward-tilted grille, and a long, creased hood. The 2014 Mazda 3 is still offered in both sedan and hatchback variants, and each version looks as good as the other. The sporty look of the Mazda 3 is amplified if you go with the GT model which features 18 inch wheels which just seem to bring everything together perfectly.
Inside, Mazda revamped the entire cockpit, dashboard and center console. The latter features a clean look that is much easier to navigate given that there aren’t a lot of buttons and controls scattered about. As a matter of fact, most of the Mazda 3’s features are housed in a central display screen which is controlled using a round knob located between the front seats. Just like a German luxury sedan, the driver can adjust the radio, access the navigation system (optional) or reach the Bluetooth menu using the knob and screen. It takes just a little bit of time to get used to everything, but once that happens, everything seems more intuitive.
The Mazda 3 offers more interior space that the previous generation, especially in the back where kids and young adults will now be more comfortable. Obviously, those looking for more practicality will opt for the Mazda 3 Sport. Because of its hatchback configuration, the Sport offers 572 liters of cargo space compared to the sedan’s 350 liters.
One of the most notable features of the new Mazda 3 is that it now offers SkyActiv technology across the board as opposed to having only one model offer it as was the case last year. SkyActiv is Mazda’s way of making their vehicles more efficient, yet still fun to drive.
Everything starts with the engines. Mazda engineers increased the compression ratio, made the individual components lighter, and reduced internal friction. By doing so, the engine maximizes each drop of fuel, and allows the driver to get more power out of each tank of gas.
Mazda also revamped the transmissions, making the 6-speed manual and automatic gearboxes lighter and more compact. Moreover, the chassis was improved using lighter materials that also happen to be more rigid.
Two engines are offered on the 2014 Mazda 3. In GX and GS trim, buyers get a 2.0L, four-cylinder SkyActiv engine that produces 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. This power can be sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic that mimics the feel of a dual-clutch transmission while showcasing the efficiency of a CVT.
In GT trim, a more powerful 2.5L SkyActiv engine is offered. It delivers 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque, and certainly offers a more spirited drive, although the 2.0L engine should be perfectly fine for most drivers. In the Mazda 3 GT, the automatic transmission is the only choice, but a Sport mode creates a quicker shifting pattern for more dynamic driving.
Regardless of which engine you chose, the 2014 Mazda 3 behaves with refinement and confidence. On a winding country road, the suspension remains in control while the improved chassis really lets you feel the car and control it using the tip of your fingers. No other car in this segment is sportier than the Mazda 3. That being said, it is also a comfortable car that lends itself well to daily driving situations. The cabin is also quieter than the last generation, making the car pleasant to drive on long distances.
The Mazda 3 is getting better with each new generation. One has to wonder how Mazda will improve on the current model’s performance, comfort and fuel-efficiency, but let us not worry about that for now as the current 3 will be with us for quite some time. Book your test drive of the brand new 2014 Mazda 3 today at Kramer Mazda!