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Mazda3 test bench | Return to form

In its current form, the Mazda3 is no longer quite a youth. And what's more, it belongs to a category that is no longer as popular as it once was. Regardless, its sales have increased by 35% over the last year and it remains the best-selling Mazda in Canada behind the CX-5.

Launched in 2019, this Japanese compact holds its place. It has lost none of its grace, with its simple and effective lines that we appropriate from the first glance, far from the banal or tortured forms of many of its rivals. It's hard not to find charm in it. It is both compact and slender, and its plunging front, displaying an old-fashioned grille, contrasts with the more compact rear part. It is elegantly designed and demonstrates a construction quality that pleasantly surprises. You are perfectly seated in comfortable enveloping seats (on high-end models), and the interior atmosphere does not lack distinction.

Character, but not enough breath

The driving position can be adjusted to the millimeter, as the steering wheel and seat are adjustable in height and depth. Beautifully lit, the meters are very readable and you navigate the infotainment screen (non-touch) using a wheel. Everything, however, is not perfect on the 3. An accumulation of controls overloads the left part of the dashboard and encourages you to take your eyes off the road to identify them. In addition, this car is infinitely less generous and comfortable in the rear seats than many of its competitors. The doors lack storage, but the seat backs fold in a single operation, while the trunk has a correct total capacity, nothing more.

  • The Mazda3 is elegantly designed and demonstrates a construction quality that pleasantly surprises.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY MAZDA

    The Mazda3 is elegantly designed and demonstrates a construction quality that pleasantly surprises.

  • The driving position can be adjusted to the millimeter, as the steering wheel and seat are adjustable in height and depth.  Beautifully lit, the counters are very readable.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY MAZDA

    The driving position can be adjusted to the millimeter, as the steering wheel and seat are adjustable in height and depth. Beautifully lit, the counters are very readable.

  • The Mazda3 is both compact and slender, and its swooping front end, featuring an old-style grille, contrasts with the more compact rear end.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY MAZDA

    The Mazda3 is both compact and slender, and its swooping front end, featuring an old-style grille, contrasts with the more compact rear end.

  • You navigate the infotainment screen (non-touch) using a wheel.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY MAZDA

    You navigate the infotainment screen (non-touch) using a wheel.

  • The firmness of the suspensions, the rigor of the chassis and the particularly responsive nature of the front axle and the steering combine to provide very direct driving sensations, including at low speed.

    PHOTO PROVIDED BY MAZDA

    The firmness of the suspensions, the rigor of the chassis and the particularly responsive nature of the front axle and the steering combine to provide very direct driving sensations, including at low speed.

1/5

Under the hood, there's something new this year. Mazda ejects the 2L four-cylinder in favor of the 2.5L. This adopts an improved cylinder deactivation device in order to reduce gasoline consumption, the Achilles heel of this engine. Slightly more powerful than in the past (191 hp instead of 186), this engine nevertheless retains the same torque values. We regret that this more caffeinated mechanism is associated exclusively with an automatic gearbox (see the “Technical sheet” tab). The good news, however, is that this mechanism can be combined with all-wheel drive. This training method, a rarity in the category, is remarkably effective.

Become one with your vehicle

The supercharged version of this 2.5L engine is even more desirable. But to benefit from its 250 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque, it is imperative to fill it with premium gasoline, which unfortunately it does not save. By opting for a lower octane number, the values ​​drop (227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque) and could accelerate the carbonization of the valves. Additionally, the greater complexity of this mechanic could also lead to higher repair costs in the long run.

Therefore, it is better to stick with the naturally aspirated 2.5L if you want to keep the cost of using this Mazda as low as possible.

Given its high price, this supercharged version will only represent a small part of sales and should above all help to improve the image of the Japanese firm.

Progressive, the 2.5 L turbo, well supported by a six-speed gearbox, does not hesitate to show that it has strength. And we just as appreciate its roundness in the city to flexibly follow traffic fluctuations. But the temperament of this mechanism is not as volcanic as we expected and releases too little emotion.

As usual, it's on the road that the 3 especially demonstrates its difference. The firmness of the suspensions, the rigor of the chassis and the particularly responsive nature of the front axle and the steering combine to provide very direct driving sensations, including at low speed. In short, we really feel this car which always gives this subtle impression of us sitting in its center of gravity. This real ability to give the driver the feeling of being one with their vehicle largely explains the success of Mazda in general and the 3 in particular.

Mazda3

Trial version

GT Turbo AWD

Price range

From $24,200 to $37,400

Consumption

9.5 L/100 km (turbo engine, winter conditions)

WE love

  • Handling
  • Rewarding presentation
  • Efficient all-wheel drive

We like less

  • Rear clearance
  • Disappointing consumption
  • Recommended premium gasoline (Turbo)

Our Verdict

The all-wheel drive GS appears to be the smartest choice.


Visit the Mazda Canada website

Share your experience

The Press will soon publish the test of the following vehicles: Cadillac Lyriq, Chevrolet Blazer EV, Ford Ranger, Honda Prologue and Hyundai Santa FE. If you own one of these vehicles or are awaiting delivery, we would love to hear from you.

Write to us to tell us about your experience

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