2014 Mazda 3: Piling on the Praise
June 24, 2014
Recently, after what I thought had been a friendly discussion at work, I was informed that I had been "piling on," making the situation worse instead of better.
So I won't exactly be shocked if I'm accused of piling on yet again after this update on the 2014 Mazda 3 Hatchback. Because, like several other editors, I truly like this car.
With its sharp steering, composed handling, quick-reacting transmission and well-bolstered seats, the Mazda 3 drives unlike anything else in the economy compact class.
Sure, it won't overwhelm you with power, but nothing does in this segment. And nope, the ride can't be called plush.
But the Mazda 3 offers a rarity for cars of this ilk: It's fun to drive. And not on a comparison basis. It's fun purely on its own merits. It's the kind of car that's a joy to charge hard with onto a tight freeway on-ramp, responsive to your steering, braking and throttle inputs. When I drive this car I find myself actively searching out the next turn to attack.
Plus, you can use the manual-shifting ability of its automatic transmission (with either the paddle shifters or the console shift lever, the last with my preferred "push forward for downshifts" layout) for engine braking and/or making sure you're in the right gear as you enter a corner. With nice throttle blips every time.
And, let's face it: Doesn't exactly hurt that it looks so damn good, either.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 8,500 miles