Mazda 3 Hatchback: A Fountain of Youth
by The Car Family
Highly rated, eager to please, and with an abundance of perkiness, the Mazda 3 hatchback is a hoot to drive. In other words, this Mazda is a mobile fountain of youth where even a short journey can be entertaining. What this funmobile offers is a chance to relive your youth when money was tight and a good bike could get you most anywhere. And, just as your first bicycle, it handles well, is great for short trips or longer adventures, and is easy to maneuver. In other words, Mazda has another hit on its hands using the basic principle of providing enjoyable transportation at an attractive price point. As for the Mazda 3 hatchback, you get all of that plus versatility and there is even room for your bike in the cargo bay.
The Mazda has a starting price well under $20,000, but you can expect a loaded version to push close to $30,000. For that price you get an 184-hp 2.5-liter engine with a standard six-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic, the Mazda Connect infotainment system with a touchscreen 7-inch monitor, a technology package and more. Just as importantly, owners are going to be able to enjoy a vehicle that is nimble with excellent driving dynamics, and an engaging character. The hatchback also gives exceptional fuel mileage that can reach nearly 40 mpg on the highway, and good resale value.
Mom’s view: Youthful, you bet, but the Mazda also comes with a reminder of the costs of exuberance with a bit of torque steer, a ride that can be noisy over unkempt roads, and some instrumentation that takes a while to master starting with the start/stop button hidden beneath the wiper stalk. Regardless, get the Skyactiv engine and chassis. They are well worth the additional cost with superior performance that brings the Mazda 3 alive. The interior is fairly luxurious, subdued and roomy with comfortable seats in front and 60/40-split folding rear seats. Safetywise our test vehicle had anti-lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front side and curtain airbags as well as a rearview camera and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts. Crash test scores were excellent, a rarity in the compact segment. Mazda has made finding the fountain of youth as close as your Apple wallet.
Dad’s view: The 6-speed manual in our test car was among the best of shifting of any vehicle The clutch was forgiving, and the extra 29 more horsepower of the Skyactiva over the standard 2.0 was well worth the two miles per gallon penalty at the pump. Visibility is excellent, but the available blind-spot monitoring is a must. Mazda also offers an option that stops the vehicle to prevent low speed frontal crashes. Our loaded test vehicle was totally enjoyable with gas mileage hovering around 30 mpg in largely urban driving. Although the 3 is more engaging with a standard transmission, I would recommend the automatic transmission with its Sport” mode if you face a daily commute and the heads-up speedometer display was a blessing keeping as the gauges are a bit small.
Young working man’s view: Don’t leave the dealership without a thorough understanding of how the rotary selection knob between the front seats works. It isn’t complicated, but it takes practice. The standard four speaker stereo is acceptable, but not exceptional. Mazda also has USB and auxiliary inputs. Carefully consider the many optional features such as Bluetooth, cruise control, navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sweet nine-speaker Bose sound upgrade, a moonroof, and a rearview camera to individualize your Mazda. I quite liked the idea of the hatchback and with interest rates so low it is possible to possess one for under ten bucks a day. That is my price point.
Young working woman’s view: There are six models, but my recommendation is to go with the Touring models. If you can afford it, the premium Grand Touring models have Mazda’s regenerative-braking system to improve fuel mileage, the Smart City Brake Support, a radar-based cruise control, and lane-departure warning. There was even active grill shutters. Regardless, this Mazda is always entertaining and ready for whatever challenge comes your way, whether it is a canyon run, daily commute, or vacation trip.. I liked the little, but the low height made it a bit difficult to enter and exit while wearing a dress. The 3 hatchback has a clean, uncluttered look with the variety of options and forms making it easy to individualize to your taste. I can see why it is top choice in the compact category.
Family conference: Recapturing your youth or just in the market for a well rounded, comfortable family vehicle, the Mazda four door hatchback delivers. Mazda offers less expensive versions of the 3 that might make a better choice if you don’t need the extra room of the hatchback. Our recommendations is that if you love to drive and still need room for the dog the 3 is for you. An amusing vehicle that brings out the youth in its owners. Add high resale, good gas mileage, and you have a practical time machine.