2017 Mazda3 hatchback brings small improvements to an older design
The current Mazda three has been on the market since 2014, so it's not exactly a spring chicken in the highly competitive smallish car segment.
But Mazda has been making improvements to it along the way to keep it at the front of the pack.
Heading into it's fourth model year, the 2017 3 Grand Touring's five doors exterior design is still fresh and attractive.
With curvy body lines that aren't overdone like the new Honda civic hatchback.
Nor a bit on the plain side like the Chevy Cruz Hatchback.
It has just the right amount of style and flash.
Inside the three is welcoming with good build quality, comfortable leather seats, spacious front and passenger areas.
And is quiet from wind and road noise thanks to additional sound insulation With a hatchback body comes a healthy helping of cargo space.
With 20.2 cubic feet when the rear seats are up which grows to 47.1 with the back seats down.
For infotainment, the responsive and intuitive Mazda Connect system is in charge that's controlled by either a seven inch touch screen or the center commander.
Unfortunately, if you're an Apple car play or an Android auto user, the system is not compatible with either of those.
But Mazda says that they are both coming sometime down the road.
Being a range topping grand tour model, this three has a long tech menu with head up display, which isn't the most elegant looking system, but is functional.
Blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, and rear cross traffic alert.
On top of that there's also optional stuff like radar cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, and adaptive LED headlights which help bump this cars as tested price to $29,080.
The best part of the Mazda 3 is how well it drives.
It hangs on tight to corners with suspension that keeps the body in check, and steering is quick to respond to inputs and feels nicely weighted.
For power, there's a 2.5 liter 4 cylinder under the hood, making 180 pro horsepower and 185 pound feet of torque.
That's connected to a slick 6 speed automatic transmission that returns 26 miles per gallon in the city and 35 miles per gallon on the highway.
Now that's not quite as efficient as a smaller turbo 4 cylinder.
They're becoming more common in this segment.
But for great [UNKNOWN] response and linear power delivery, I'm willing to give up a little of Efficiency.
Make no mistake, this is not a Mazdaspeed 3, but on twisty roads the combination of the sorted chassis and punky drive train, can make this little guy capable of planting a smile on your face.
Even with the automatic transmission that does feature a respectable manual mode.
To tops things off, this three suspension is still forgiving for normal commuting and long distance runs, which I know first hand after driving this car from New Jersey to Michigan in a day.
It was a nine hour slog, but I got home feeling perfectly fine which says a lot about ride comfort.
Even with newer hatchback competition hitting the scene, the Mazda 3 remains one of the go-to choices in its segment.
Personally, if I was shopping for a hatchback, the Mazda 3's combination of good looks, Intact features, strong engine and great handling would make it the car that I would selEct in this segment