Posted February 15, 2014 | © Photo by The Flash List
Mazda has always had the reputation of building fun, quick, and zippy small cars; but the term “technologically advanced” should be included in that description as well. The Mazda 3 has been the brand’s best-selling vehicle in North America and globally, but with the addition of the Skytrak and iLoop technologies that produce better fuel efficiency and higher engine output, the Mazda3 should have no trouble retaining its top-standing rank in the Mazda fleet.
I drove the 2105 4-door Mazada3 with the SKYACTIV-G engine to Houston, Texas, for the Houston Auto show. It was a bright, sunny, blue bird day on the morning the car was delivered, and when I walked up and saw the car with its low and lean profile and the red metallic paint glistening, a little voice inside of me rose up and whispered, “Zoom-Zoom.”
The racy red color really made the car look fast enough just sitting there, but what really sets Mazda apart is their KODO design philosophy that Mazda is implementing in all of their new cars. The word KODO means 'soul of motion'. It’s “the muscular beauty you see when an animal pounces, or when a human leaps into action.”
I loaded my suitcases into the trunk, jumped into the car, and started out on my trip. The test model had a 155-hp SKYACTIV-G 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, and I was eager to find out if the car still had “it.” With a 184-hp 2.0L also available, I wanted to see if the 155-hp could create the power to be not only an in-town daily driver but also a vacation-worthy car.
The first big test I would put the Mazda3 through would be its ability to get up to a safe interstate speed in a short period of time.I recalled that the 4 cylinders from the 80’s would take what seemed like 5 miles to get up to cruising speed, so with only 155-hp I did have my doubts. As I entered the interstate from the on ramp, the car got up to cruising speed so fast and smooth that I had to let it coast out a bit before I picked the gas up again. It passed the on ramp test with flying colors, like a jaguar chasing its dinner.
As I learned at the auto show, there are a few reasons the Mazada3 could accelerate so quickly and smoothly and it had to do with the SKYACTIV-Body design and the way the SKYACTIV-Drive transmission worked with the SKYACTIV engine. The body design is the next-generation, lightweight, highly-rigid car body with improved crash safety performance; and the transmission is a combination of automatic, variable, and dual clutch transmissions that give maximum torque with exceptional gas mileage.
After experiencing the Mazda’s peppy acceleration, I wanted to see what kind of MPG rate the car would produce. I tend to drive a bit more aggressive than most, so I figured it might be a challenge to get close to the 41mpg efficiency rating that Mazda had published. The MPG’s for the trip were 37.7mpg to Buc-ee’s in Madisonville which is roughly half way and I checked it again at The Woodlands and it was 38.5mpg. It is easy to see why the Mazda3 is giving the hybrids a run for their money and getting a Greenhouse rating is 8 out of 10.
I set the cruise, opened the sunroof cover to let in the great January sun, and headed south to Houston. Despite all of the bright sunlight shining in, Mazda’s brand new infotainment system MAZDA CONNECT was a breeze to see and use. The system has a 7-inch full-color touch screen and uses a 9-speaker Bose Centerpoint audio system to push out a rich full sound. The comfort and interior styling on the Mazda3 is impeccable and has been compared by many to some of the high-end luxury cars outside the Mazda3’s class.At 6’ 2” tall, I had no problem getting comfortable in the seats; and even after the 4.5 hour trip, I still felt fresh.
I would have to say that my overall trip from Dallas to Houston in the Mazda3 was a great success since the Madza3 proved fun to drive and economical to boot. As word gets out more about the Mazda3 through timely marketing campaigns, this car will no longer be ‘the best kept secret in North America’.As they say, “Some bend the rules. [Mazda] changes the game.” Zoom-Zoom!
The Mazda3 starts out with a base rate of 16,000, and the MSRP of our test model was right at $23,410.
Recent awards for the Mazda3 include:
IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway): Safety 2014 Top Safety Pick
US News: 2015 Best Affordable Small Car
Kelly Blue Book: 2014 5-Year Cost to Own Award
ALG: Residual Value Award for the Compact Car Segment
Car and Driver: 10Best Cars