Zoomer Consumer: Mazda3
There’s little surprise that the 2010 Mazda3 won AJAC’s Best New Small Car under $21,000 and Best New Small Car over $21,000 (for the Mazda3 Sport model) categories this year – and should threaten to win 2010 Canadian Car of the Year.
While the Kia Forte is one of my 2010 favourites – and should become a bestseller for the Korean automaker – it’s still a few years away from seriously competing in this bloated category. Other contenders, such as the Honda Insight and Nissan Cube, while fun and perfectly capable, seem like works-in-progress in comparison. And the Volkswagen Golf is a fine conveyor that came up just short. However, I’m sure things might have turned out differently had, say, the Honda Civic been redesigned for 2010.
Regardless, the Mazda3 reigns and my test week with the SportGT model (starts at $23,195; the SportGX model starts at $16,995) only confirmed the roar of praise its already received.
From front to back, this five-door hatchback is impeccably styled. The rear roof spoiler – a dapper cap on the Mazda3’s bonnet – adds a tinge of sophistication to its youthful exterior. And the sweeping headlights look magnificent as they roll into raised fenders over the front wheels to slick, streaking lines down the side.
Inside, the interior is filled with everything you’d expect – power everything, auxiliary jack, six-disc CD changer, tilt/telescopic steering wheel and sports seats to name a few features.
Cabin space is generous. It’s easy to cram the hatch full of boxes and groceries, and the backbench with adults complete with enough legroom, but you may have to be creative if taking it on a weeklong family vacation.
The driving experience is as advertised – zippy, spirited and fun. Gas and brake pedals respond in an instant and steering is soft (in a good way) and easy to command.
My tester came with a five-speed sport automatic transmission. It did an admirable job and almost didn’t make me think what it would feel like with the six-speed manual transmission.
If you’re looking for more than 167 HP though, the MazdaSpeed3, packed with 263 HP and turbocharged engine, is the option for you (starts at $32,995). Or if a four-door sedan is more your bag, the Mazda3 variation begins at $15,995.
With competition in the compact car segment rapidly growing, the 2010 Mazda3 only strengthens its standing with this commendable offering.