Vancouver, BC — You could argue that the test-drive other media writers took through the Greater Vancouver area is a more realistic use of this urban runabout. But ours up Highway 99 to Whistler, while lovelier, has many decent curves, some traffic lights and abundant zealous police daring drivers to break the mostly 80kmh speed limit.
In the morning I shared the entry level GX sedan containing the 2.0L engine with a 6-gear transmission. In the afternoon we drove the hatchback in the top-line GT trim, fully tricked out with paddle-shifting, a 2.5L engine, moonroof, navigation and more.
Both models have raised the stakes significantly. Like most manufacturers, Mazda’s created a car that many people can afford—but people will like driving these.
For some reason Canadians seem disinterested in hatchbacks. Luckily for them the sedan is no longer the less attractive sister to the Mazda3 Sport. Its lower stance is enhanced by the movement of curves, flowing up from the nose. Partially, this is aerodynamics, for a superb drag co-efficient and, ultimately, fuel economy of 6.7/4.7 L/100km city/hwy. (The GT’s 2.5L is 7.2/5.1 but can be improved with an optional regenerative technology, i-Eloop.)
But they also decided there’s nothing wrong with making it look wicked.
The layout inside is cleverly divided. Nothing within the driver’s immediate cone of sight is irrelevant. Infotainment and comfort knobs are arranged for greater participation from the passenger. The GT features a first-in-class heads-up display, which you adjust to your preferences. So drivers needn’t take their eyes from the road. All trims come with an infotainment system that’s remarkably easy to learn and command.
The steering is pretty tight and realistic, though you do notice it wanting to revert to centre after the peak of a turn. The handling, especially in the Sport, is driver friendly and rewarding.
The difference in the two engines was especially noticeable on the route we took. The 2.0L kept wanting to upshift to top gear at speeds as low as 65+kmh. The 2.5L never got there because of the speed limits. Mind, we tended to remain in sport mode for the added fun. Try it before buying. It definitely increases the tactility of the road.
A final point: Mazda achieved all of this improvement without raising the Mazda3 price. In fact, the GT costs slightly less!
GX from: $15,995
GT from: $25,855
Though a co-owner and former editor of DailyXY, Steven Bochenek is actually an advertising writer who does some journalism on the side. In 2011 he was accepted into the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. His other interests include playing music, long-distance running, skiing and writing in the third person.
Photo courtesy of the author.