Saturday Road Test – Mazda 3 Hatchback

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Mazda 3 Grand Touring

And Grand Touring It Is

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, Md. The third generation Mazda 3 has been a hot seller at times capturing more than half of Mazda’s passenger car sales in the U.S. and for good reason.

It is as pleasing in all aspects as that morning cup of Joe that has been perfectly brewed, that tickles your taste buds and jars your “little gray cells” awake. (Gray is sooo in these days with the upcoming release of the movie.)

A top of the line five-door Grand Touring model graced the road test driveway with the more powerful of the two fours available. That would be the 2.5-liter with 184 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 185 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm. Also available is a 2.0-liter good for 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque but you really should opt for the 2.5 with its greater torque.

There are two transmissions available and thank you Mazda, the test car came with a sweet six speed manual that was as delightful as any shift it yourself I have driven. It made me long for that first test drive of the new MX-5 Miata.

A six speed automatic is also in the mix. With the stick, a 0-60 romp can be accomplished in just a tick over seven seconds and yet the EPA rates this at 26-35 mpg for a combined 29. (Gas prices are on the rise ya know!)

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But it is the wonderful all around balance of the car that makes it and you sing wonderful songs. It felt light, nimble, balanced and ready to take on any sort of back road. All of the important interior controls fell to hand like you had placed them yourself. And the symphonic sounds of that little four made it close to crime to turn on the audio system.

A head up display will show your speed, navi directions and other related information. I was happy with just speed to keep out of trouble.

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The Grand Touring model brings a six way power adjustable driver’s seat with manual lumber adjustment, heated front seats with leatherette covering and the navi system among other things.

The seats will hold your bod in place when exercising the 3 yet the ride is not sports car stiff, thanks to Mazda’s tinkering with the shocks, springs and anti-roll bars. The test hatch in a striking “Blue Relfex” did just fine on already pot holed Maryland roads.

I thought the center of the dash touchscreen had kind of a last minute, added on look, and am not a fan of scrolling in a circle on screen to find the desired operation. But yes, it’s a better system than lot of others I have tried.

In sum the Mazda 3 is one of those delightful cars that can seemingly do it all. Carry stuff, produce excellent gas mileage, yet still champion rural roads and off ramps. It can them settle down for your daily commute with the masses.

Mazda has improved the interior to a degree that riders might think it costs more than your payment book indicates. It also received the best available safety rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Bottom line? A total of $28,385 with delivery. That also includes about $1,955 of trim items that could easily be forgotten.

You would come away with a handy hatch that will put a smile on your face every day.

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