2014 Mazda 3: Busy Wheel
August 1, 2014
There's a lot to like about our 2014 Mazda 3. A lot. I'm on record as being a little grumpy on its highway ride, but if you don't spend much time on rain-grooved interslabs, the Mazda 3 is a no-brainer. Driving around town reveals more and better sides to this car. It reminds me a lot of my late '91 Integra. It pulls hard like that old Integra and it's always willing to chirp the tires. I'd like to see factory torque curves on both cars. Old Integra had miles better visibility, though. Also sang better above 6,000 rpm.
Only a mother could love this steering column, though. There's a lot going on here. Nine buttons on the wheel face alone, controlling 15 commands. Seems like a good indication of where designers are right now, trying to harness myriad functions mostly unrelated to driving in a small piece of real estate, on hardware meant to keep the car away from trees and utility poles.
Then there are the shift paddles behind and the thick, stubby wiper and headlight stalks. The carbon-fauxber inlay makes me wince a little bit.
The whole thing has a vaguely spacecraft feel to it, which complements other design elements. Clearly a thin Nardi wheel isn't going to work here. But less clutter, more understatement would be good.
But, really, this is like complaining about the freckle on Monica Belluci's elbow.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor