2020 Mazda3 Hatchback: Sit down, be quiet–and be thrilled

22 May 2020 | 507 views | No Comment
  By Don Hammonds There is an automotive revolution underway--by a company that is making waves to upend the notion that everyday cars cannot be stylish, distinctive, and head turning. That car company is Mazda, one of the few automakers that still seems to care about good design--not three box designs for sedans and four box looks for its crossovers. Just within the last few months, Mazda has revealed some real lookers that stand apart from everything in their market slots. The all-new CX30 is a huge hit for Mazda with journalists and buyers alike, with its sleek, racy profile that manages also to separate itself from other models in the brand lineup. This is all part of a move to transform Mazda into one which has its focus on offering cars and other products that look like a million dollars, are equipped far better than the competitors, that still mightily uphold the sterling performance that the brand has always embraced, with gorgeous, expensive interiors and top grade materials. The climax of all this will come in either 2021 or 2022 when the all-new Mazda6 is revealed, featuring a breathtaking design for a product that will be expected to compete with the very best luxury sedans on the market--at a considerably lower price. One of the company's products that speaks volumes for its future direction is the all-new 2020 Mazda3. The model comes in two very distinct versions--one is a suavely understated, elegant four door sedan--and a sleek fastback/hatchback that looks like absolutely nothing else on the road, and lives up to its explosive look with performance that matches it. We  were lucky enough to get the hatchback model for our test driver. So here is how our test car fared in our evaluation: 2020 Mazda3 hatchback with premium package AWD Base price: $28,900  Price as tested: $32,065 Economy: The Mazda3 is rated at 24 city and 32 highway, with a combined mileage rating of 27 mpg.  Annual fuel cost is about $1,500. That cost estimate is based on driving 15,000 miles a year using gasoline costing $2.70 cents a gallon of gasoline. The car uses about 3.7 gallons of gasoline per 100 miles. Performance: All Mazda 3 models are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine which produces 186 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, along with shifting provided by a six speed automatic transmission. A six-speed automatic is standard equipment.  There are no other options for the powertrain system. Though the 3 is not quite the sparkling performer that characterized the previous generation, it is nonetheless an incredibly enjoyable ride. It corners brilliantly, accelerates quickly and has a braking system that is fast, safe, and doesn't give you the jolts that sometimes occur with cars with sensitive, temperamental brakes. The car: An absolute wonder of a car to drive. Though psychologically it feels heavier than its predecessors, and the emphasis seems to be more on smoothness and and road stability. Contrast that with the zippy, strong handling and strongly sporty ride of the last generation "3" and you can see why the all-new Mazda3 has not exactly taken the automotive journalists' world by storm. One of its few drawbacks:  My passengers complained that the back seats felt uncomfortable and hard, and they added that they did have as much legroom as they would have liked. But I still like it a lot.  Its fun to drive, turns heads, is fairly economical, and--drum roll please!!--you can get all wheel drive on this beast!  The only car company I'm aware of who are offering all-wheel drive on its compacts is Subaru. Honda? Nope. Toyota--Nope. Nissan--Nope. Of course you can get an all-wheel drive VW Golf R--but get ready to pay big, big bucks for it. I'm not talking about tiny crossovers and SUVs like the new Ford Escape, the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Venue, or Kia Seltos, or the soon to be on the showroom floor Chevy Trailblazer. I'm talking about compact car sedans. Not everybody on Planet Earth WANTS a crossover or an SUV, no matter what sales projections might suggest. Hey guys--there are plenty of Northeasterners who will drive right by your car dealership and head straight for Mazda--just sayin!  Inside the Mazda3 you will find Grade A materials and design elements that really you would expect to see on cars costing thousands more.  The instrument panel is done quite well, and does not overwhelm owners with a mass of gauges, dials, buttons and controls. But there is one, huge issue--Mazda3's awful, counterintuitive, complicated as hell audio system.  What usually takes one step on most cars to get the audio system working and to connect Bluetooth, will require two or three for the Mazda3--if you can figure out what everything does!  And the tiny labels and graphics on controls don't help either. Mazda, please address this!  I've had several Mazda models, and the story is the same.   Technology:
      Mazda has made its models and offerings pretty clear cut and easy to understand.  You can get a 2020 in four different flavors or trim packages; Things get rolling with the base model, and all of those wonderful standard safety features you've heard a lot about. Standard feature highlights for the "Base" model include LED headlights, an 8.8-inch infotainment display, emergency telematics and an eight-speaker audio system. Advanced safety features include frontal collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and a drowsy driver monitor. If you want more goodies and a bit more clout, go to the next step up--the Select. Your Select model will have  such items as  keyless entry, simulated leather upholstery, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. The next model up is the Preferred, and you will be hard put to think of anything you are missing with this model. Its standard features include a power driver's seat, heated front seats, and a 12 speaker Bose Audio system. The top of the line model is the Preferred version, which gives you heated front seats, a power drivers seat, and a 12-speakert Bose Audio System for starters.  There is also a Premium model at the top of the ladder for you to consider as well. All Mazda 3 models are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (186 horsepower, 186 lb-ft of torque). A six-speed automatic is the only available transmission and front-wheel drive is standard. All-wheel drive can be added to the Select and higher models. If you really want a manual transmission, you'll have to opt for the hatchback model.
Mazda does a terrific job when it comes to providing the latest safety equipment at no charge on its cars.  Those standard features include:  G-Vectoring control pus I-Active AWD; blind spot monitoring system, rear cross traffic alert, tire pressure monitoring system, Mazda Radar cruise control with Stop and Go; Smart Brake Support; rearview camera, and a host of other features.      Aesthetics/styling:  I absolutely loved the bombshell, "drawing outside the box" look of the Mazda3.  It is unique, sleek and altogether ready for the road--or the track for that matter.  Yes, to some eyes, it will look bulbous. I think it looks brutish! And that front end!  It looks as though it eat up its competition, and more than few cars that are above it on the automotive pecking order. But to me, it is so unique, and such a standout that you cannot help miss it.  There are drawbacks to the look though.  It is nearly impossible to see through the back of the car because of the thickness of the roofline. It's a good thing that Blind Spot Monitoring system is part of the standard equipment.  Inside, you need to watch your head as you8 Warranty: Three years/36,000 mile warranty bumper to bumper, and 60,000 mile, five year warranty on the powertrain.      

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