2020 Mazda3: exhilarating driving dynamics, premium features

  • Friday, November 29, 2019 1:30am
  • Vehicles

I’ve always had a fond place in my heart for hatchbacks.

Perhaps because my first car with a 1968 Mustang Fastback. Why did I ever sell that beauty? But I digress – again.

The 2020 Mazda3 comes in sedan and hatchback styles. My tester was the hatchback version with FWD and a top-of-the-line Premium package. It benefits from bold styling, exhilarating driving dynamics and premium features, at a less than premium price.

Last year’s model received an extensive, striking redesign that was embraced by consumers. This year, the model gets tweaked, with calculated adjustments to the suspension along with other improvements in an effort to exceed expectations.

The Mazda3 is powered by a Skyactiv-G, 2.5-liter, DOHC, four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed, sport-mode automatic transmission. The combination delivers 186 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 186 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm.

Although listed as a compact, the Mazda3 seats five adults in a pinch and – thanks to cylinder deactivation technology – delivers an impressive 32 miles per gallon down the highway as rated by the EPA. And you can get a generous amount of “stuff” in the rear cargo area.

My tester, thanks to the rear hatch, cut a sporty silhouette and was enhanced by a Polymetal Gray Metallic coat of enamel, black finish, 18-inch alloy wheels, black metallic front grille, rear roof spoiler and LED illumination front and back.

The interior creates a sense of luxury with sophisticated styling, heated leather seating, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power sunroof and illuminated door sill trim plates.

Creature comforts are slathered everywhere, in Larry-pleasing proportions. My favorites were Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, navigation, Bose sound system with 12 speakers, rear-view camera, adaptive front lighting system, Bluetooth, USB port and wireless phone charging pad.

The Mazda3 accelerates smoothly and quickly, with handling to match. Paddle shifters are at the ready, if you want to pretend your driving a manual – which is available, if desired.

The list of safety features is even longer than the amenities. At the top of the list are Mazda’s radar cruise control with stop-and-go function, smart brake support, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist and high beam control.

But there’s more. Other standard equipment includes dynamic stability control, traction control, driver-attention alert, anti-theft engine immobilizer, tire pressure monitoring and antilock brakes.

Mazda3 comes with a 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 60-month/60k-mile powertrain warranty. The car is manufactured in Hiroshima, Japan, with 75 percent of its parts also made in Japan.

Base Price: $29,700

Price As Driven: $31,595

Base price includes destination charge. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.

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