Mazda3 reveals why it’s so popular

The Mazda3 Sport is a premium five-door hatchback that costs a little more than its sedan equivalent. You’re not alone in liking the look of this car as it’s already a very strong seller in Canada, where compact vehicles dominate. Buyers appreciate the high value, quality product when they see it.

Completely redesigned last year, the second-generation 2011 Mazda3 Sport comes in three trim levels, GX ($17,495), GS ($20,965) and GT ($25,425). The base GX is powered by a 148-horsepower 2.0-litre engine with a five-speed manual transmission, while the GS and GT trims both come with a 167 horsepower 2.5-litre four-cylinder and a six-speed manual gearbox. All trims have an optional five-speed automatic with manual-shift mode.

Wise old auto heads say that it’s better to buy a car in its second year of production, when the engineers have ironed out all the early manufacturing kinks. There’s certainly something to be said for that line of reasoning, although probably less so today.

That said, the 2011 Mazda3 Sport does come with a host of changes, but they are mostly packing changes. To start with, electronic stability and traction control systems are now standard on both the GX and GS trim levels. A 16-inch alloy wheel is now standard on the GX trim, a Luxury package (with leather) is now available on the GS trim and new Standard Equipment on the GT trim includes; a moonroof, leather upholstery, an eight-way adjustable driver seat and heated front seats.

New available features for 2011 include; rain-sensing wipers, auto on/off headlights, bi-xenon headlights with auto-levelling, an Adaptive Front lighting System, and LED rear combination lights. Deleted features include side turn lamp markers on GX and GS trims, door mirror turn lamps on GT and a driver seat memory function.

A new blue warning light, which indicates low engine temperature, has been added to the instrument panel. While there’s no need to idle any modern engine for a long period in order to warm it up after a cold start, it should be driven cautiously (no high revving) until the engine gets to its operating temperature (and the blue light goes out).

No matter the edition, price or potency, core attributes of a Mazda3 are its super-rigid body platform and its sport-minded engineering theme. Increased use of high-strength steel and a technique called weld-bonding in key body locations make the structure both lighter and stiffer, and when combined with new suspension modifications result in an even tighter and better handling Mazda3.

My test Mazda3 Sport GT came with the new GT-E Package ($2,140), which includes intelligent key with push-button ignition, the Adaptive Front Headlights System (AFS) with automatic headlamp levelling, a premium 10-speaker Bose audio sound system, satellite radio, a Multi-Information Display, and a navigation system.

Photograph by: Bob McHugh, For PNG