For years now, the Mazda3 Hatchback has been a contradictory car for me. I can’t quite figure it out. The design is striking… and interesting… and appealing. All of the above. But it’s also a little bit weird, with lots of metal and seemingly small windows. You can feel that Mazda sense of speed, performance, and design flow. But from the interior, that chunky c-pillar creates a prominent blind spot in certain situations where you need to look over your shoulder.

mazda design

Interior & safety checks…

I like the interior a lot. Mazda always does a great job to create a very driver-centric cockpit. It’s soothing & not overstated. But I’ll be DAMN if the Mazda3 doesn’t ever stop beeping at me. Owning a new Mazda is like being a child strapped to one of those mom-leashes. It beeps & chimes so much, I don’t even know what it’s trying to tell me anymore. I’m honestly surprised it didn’t tell me to wash my hands. If you like that sort of safety-minded driving experience, you’ll be in heaven. But for me, it just raised my blood pressure.

mazda3 interior

Performance…

The Mazda3’s performance is another weird contradiction. With an optional 2.5 TURBO and ALL-WHEEL-DRIVE… the Mazda3 has some scoot! And grip! 250hp & 320tq – all being pushed straight to the ground through AWD. But with no manual transmission, why tho?! It’s like they made a potent little driver’s car… for people who won’t appreciate it. Like Mazda made the next Speed3… without the transmission.

Anyway – aside from no manual transmission, the driving experience in all other areas is very engaging. Mazda always does a great job here. The car feels tight & direct. And there is a connection to the road in the steering wheel that most new cars miss. Everything from the cockpit controls, to the crisp adaptive headlights, are all designed to bring the driver’s attention to the moment.

Mazda3 hatchback

In conclusion…

I guess a lot of this comes down to personal appeal. If you live in a region with a full 4 seasons, the AWD is great. The boosted power is nice too. And I’d definitely say the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo AWD is a solid competitor against… a Subaru for example. And more svelte. But I also think Mazda is competing with themselves, with the CX-5. Given the lack of a manual transmission in the Mazda3 AWD, I feel like a lot of people who’d buy it… would actually probably prefer the larger, more versatile CX-5. It’s virtually the same price. And even if you live in a more congested/metro area with tight parking, the length of the Mazda3 & CX-5 are about the same. Plus, the CX-5 is a pretty agile crossover, with much of the same DNA & driver-focused characteristics as the Mazda3. 

Mazda 2.5 turbo

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