The old Mazda3 was a pretty compact sedan with a premium feel that drove well. After 5 years in production, Mazda decided it’s time for a new generation, which was unveiled last year at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Mazda didn’t want to mess too much with a winning recipe, but they were determined to refine nearly every aspect of the car. It has an evolutionary styling on the outside, with a big grille at the front and slim headlights, and a more upscale cabin, with lots of soft-touch surfaces and enough gear, regardless of the selected model.
Buyers are given a choice of four trim levels, called the Mazda3, Select, Preferred and Premium. Prices start from $21,895 for the base grade, which gets LED lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and a new 8.8-inch infotainment system. All-wheel drive is available in all flavors except for the entry-level, and customers have to live with a 186 hp (189 PS / 139 kW) and 186 lb-ft (252 Nm) of torque 2.5-liter SkyActiv-G four-cylinder engine, with the promise that the SkyActiv-X will launch later on.
Now, what makes a compact model truly great proposal in this crowded category? According to RoadShow’s review, the stiffer chassis, new torsion beam rear suspension, great steering feedback and other refinements have contributed to making the new Mazda3 one of the best driving cars in its class, but is that enough to topple the ever-so popular Toyota Corolla?