2013 Mazda3 Hatchback First Drive

2013 Mazda3 17 photos
Photo: Mazda
2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback2013 Mazda3 Hatchback
It’s a sunny November afternoon and the cab driver is struggling for about 20 minutes to find the luxury resort on the city’s outskirts where the launching ceremony is to be held. Finally, a big sign on the side of the road appears and we pull over to the location. I pay the fare and step through the large gate. And there they were...
Three identical Mazda3 hatchbacks finished in deep Soul Red were parked under a big willow. My heart started pounding and while looking from the sides, I found them looking incredibly sexy, just like some Alfa Romeos, thanks to the new KODO design.

I was also glad that the new 3 wiped its stupid smile off its “face”, with the lower grille’s size now being reduced and integrated into the hood’s lines to create a smooth flowing shape enhanced by a chrome insert. The headlamps got redesigned too, now hinting towards a feline instead of a crazy frog, like the outgoing model did. Also, the resculpted bumper offers the compact a bolder, more planted look.

The 3’s sides have also been resculpted, the waistline now being defined by two smooth lines flowing harmoniously into each other, ending at the back with feather-shaped stoplights flowing deeply into the car’s rear quarters.

The roofline of the new hatch is now more arched, especially at the back where the rear window meets the waistline at a smaller angle and gets covered by a sporty air wing at the top.

After feasting my eyes with those smooth flowing surfaces and concluded that this is now the best-looking hatch on my list, I stepped into the briefing room to find out what’s going to happen next.

The sunlight was decaying rapidly and after we talked cars and had a fabulous meal, we were handed the routes and stepped outside to begin the journey.

I was overly-excited got behind the wheel and after accommodating myself, I started noticing how nice the interior is - the instrument cluster using a digital and analog design was dead center and easy to read, with the central gauge generously displaying the revs while the speed digits were shown at its bottom right side.

The driving position was pretty comfortable and the seats were providing a decent amount of hug-factor regarding the vehicle’s class. All the controls were at reach and the cheap plastic was almost gone, except for some buttons and the lower central console. Passenger space was decent, both for the front and rear occupants and the single problem to be found were the door’s cylindrical cubby holes, which could only accommodate a single bottle of water. To me that’s fine because I hate to stow unnecessary things in the vehicle, but the passenger may have another opinion.

Our Mazda3 tester was the almost-fully-equipped Revolution version, motivated by an aspirated 2-liter four-cylinder engine producing 120 hp and mated to a six-speed manual gearbox turning the front wheels. The powertrain is rated at 5.1 l/100 km (46.1 mpg US / 55.3 mpg UK) combined fuel consumption. The 3 came fitted with features like tilt/telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio buttons, leather wrapped gear shifter and handbrake lever, heated electric rearview mirrors, cruise control, head-up display, 7-inch infotainment system with multiple connectivity, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, smart key entry and start with i-Stop, parking sensors, Bose sound system and more.

So, I started the engine and with no time to spare I hit the road and... got stuck in the city traffic. Here, the 3 felt very easy to drive, thanks to the torquey engine and smooth, easy to dose clutch. The heavy traffic let us play with the infotainment system a bit, which was surprisingly responsive to our input and easy to use through the big dial and buttons on the central console or by using the touchscreen. Its only inconvenient was the fact that the system has no physical buttons for the audio system, except those on the steering wheel and one on the central console, so if a passenger wants to change the radio station, there’s no other way to do so than to navigate his way back in the audio screen.

The city crawling finally ended and we took to the highway where we unleashed the 120 horses and 210 Nm (155 lb-ft) of torque. The amount of power won’t snap your neck, but the rev-loving engine delivers it in a constant way, making me want to push the car further and further... But a quick glance at the head-up display showing a pretty big triple-digit number made me back off the gas pedal and let it coast along to get back on the speed limit. The only factor spoiling the fun a bit was the noise infiltrating in the cabin canceling the one from the engine.

As we left the highway several tens of kilometers later, we found ourselves around the hills, bravely attacking sharp turns and switching gears fast. At decent speeds, the new Mazda3 feels pretty planted and thanks to its Skyactive architecture, bumps were successfully absorbed without too much rebound. The electric-assisted steering was tuned to offer a decent amount of feedback at bigger speeds while the brakes made me feel confident that they will certainly stop the car in an emergency... like a herd of cows suddenly appearing after a fast right-hand corner, moo-ing their way across the road.

Reaching the “apex” of the trip, we pulled over to the side of the twisting road going around the silent hills and I took advantage of the last moments of daylight to step back and admire the 3’s shapes once again... just sitting there with its headlights on and idling peacefully.

On the way back, I discovered that with all the pounding and fast paced action, the 3’s computer returned a fuel consumption of just above 7 l/100 km (33.6 mpg US / 40.3 mpg UK), but calming down and using the cruise control on the highway, the value dropped to almost a half.

At the end of the day, I felt a bit disappointed about the amount of power the engine produced compared to its size. However, the more powerful 165 hp unit can certainly solve the problem and put the Mazda3 in the top three choices, maybe even the first place if styling weighs more for you.
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