2014 Mazda3

This is an important car for Mazda. Sitting at a press conference in Vancouver, BC for the launch of the 2014 Mazda3, the representative states one in every three Mazda vehicles sold in Canada is a Mazda3. Put another way, they need to get this right. A few hours later, after my initial test drive to Whistler and back on the Sea-to-Sky highway, I am confident to say, get it right they did.

A top seller across Canada since it first launched in 2003, the 2014 edition represents the 3rd generation Mazda3. Available in both sedan and hatchback models from the very beginning; the newest version continues this trend across the model range.

KODO design, displayed currently on the Mazda CX-5 and Mazda6, works especially well on the new Mazda3. It could be due to the stout exterior proportions, lower roof and hood, plus designers have carefully placed as much of the “meat” of the car between the front and rear wheels for optimum performance. Short front and rear overhangs not only look great with the swooping KODO curves, they make it easy to find the front and back when parking or maneuvering in tight spaces.

Style is as much a part of the 2014 Mazda3 as is practicality and performance. KODO dictates 3 main principles in design; speed, tension and allure. The concept here is to have the car look as if it is in motion even when standing still. As described by the presenter, the design team also wants to keep your eye moving across the vehicle, front to back or visa-versa depending on where you are standing. Even the new front grill, which still showcases a friendly smile, is less obtrusive and more pleasing than in the past.

SKYACTIV is the second important terminology now associated with Mazda and it is prevalent throughout the 2014 Mazda3. Mostly, we associate this with the engine and transmission, but in actual fact the body structure is very much a part of the SKYACTIV approach to building a new Mazda.

Improvements to the body structure include added safety and dramatically improved aerodynamics. The entire underbody of the car is carefully covered so as to reduce wind resistance. Side mirrors are contoured, as well as all exterior panels, to allow the new Mazda3 to slip through the air with ease. The result is a 0.275 CD for the hatchback and an astounding 0.255 CD for the sedan.

Two engines make up the model line for 2014. Both are gasoline, powerful and fuel-efficient. Vague hints were made that a diesel may be in the future, but for now its gasoline power only.

The base GX and mid-range GS models feature a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve engine with SKYACTIV technology. Performance numbers indicate 155 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 150 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.

On the drive back from Whistler to Vancouver, we drove a 6-speed manual transmission GS and enjoyed every minute of it. Sitting at a stoplight, it was dead silent. In fact, my co-driver thought the car had stalled for a second, or that it was equipped with start/stop technology. A quick blip of the gas pedal assured us the car was indeed running- it is just that quiet.

The available power from the 2.0-litre engine is sufficient; maybe even a little surprising as to how robust it can be. But to truly grasp the fun factor of the 2014 Mazda3, I suggest you consider the GT model.

Equipped with a 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder engine, it delivers 184 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 185 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm.

Sitting at a different stoplight, this time in Squamish, BC, we punched it as the light turned green and watched as 100 km/h ticked by in no time flat. It is not a sports car, but it is a compact car with exceptional sporty intentions. Matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shifters and a “sport” mode button on the center console, it performs admirably on mountain roads and curves while returning excellent fuel economy.

Inside, the new Mazda3 is inspired by Audi and BMW- and it shows. If there is a better interior in this price range, I haven’t seen it. Soft touch materials, chrome and satin-finish metal look superior. Outside, special attention is given to the paint surfaces, with tinted clear coat used on the flagship colour, Soul Red Mica, and a new method that aligns metal flakes in the paint to allow for more “pop” as our host stated when the sun hits it.

Trunk space and back seat room is excellent given the size, so too the interior quietness when driving in the city. A topnotch navigation system was part of our GT model experience, with head-up display, easy-to-use Bose sound and fully adjustable seating, heated, of course.

Pricing for the 2014 Mazda3 sedan starts at $15,995 for the 6-speed manual GX and stops at $29,855 for a 6-speed automatic GT equipped with the technology package. A $1,000 premium is charged for the hatchback.

The original Mazda GLC was referred to as a great little car. The new Mazda3 continues the tradition of “great”, but does so in a car well suited for the family or business professional looking to impress their coworkers at the office. Zoom-Zoom strikes again.

2014 Mazda3

Featured model: GT
Engine size: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder
Transmission: 5-speed automatic with manual shift
Power/Torque: 184 hp/185 lb-ft
Steering: Electric power rack and pinion
Braking: Power 4-disc, ABS/EBD
Air bags: 2 (front) 2 (side) 4 (side curtain)
Combined fuel economy: 6.0L/100 km city/hwy
Fuel capacity: 50 litres
Original MSRP: $ 29,985.00
Optional equipment: $2,500.00

Related links:
Mazda Canada

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