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2024 Mazda 3 Hatch

Starting from CAD $24,950

Vehicle Score 8.7/10
Disclaimer: Vehicles are provided by manufacturers. Content is produced independently and is not sponsored by them.

I’ve got a soft spot for the Mazda 3, I not only like the vehicle but love the brand as well. I used to own a 2019 Mazda 3 Hatch and the 2024 is pretty much the same vehicle with some minor changes here and there.

Getting into the Mazda 3 again brought back some nostalgia, it’s impressive how well the vehicle has aged and held up over time. But, it’s not perfect. The visibility isn’t the best, the rear seating space is a bit tight, and if you want the fully loaded model, be ready to pay close to $40,000. All that being said, it’s still a great vehicle and we’ve rated it the best compact car in its class.

Performance

The Mazda 3 offers two engine choices: a 2.5L 4-cylinder and a turbocharged variant. The standard 2.5L engine has 191 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque, while the turbo variant comes with 250 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque (using 93 octane fuel). We tested the fully loaded model with the turbo engine, and it didn’t disappoint during our week-long test. It always felt responsive and quick, making acceleration effortless. Whether merging onto the highway or overtaking other vehicles, the engine provided ample power without any sluggishness. It also felt refined with minimal turbo lag, which is always appreciated from a turbo engine.

The Mazda 3 offers a choice between a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, but the turbo engine is only available with an automatic transmission. I tested the 6-speed automatic, which delivered smooth shifts and ensured a comfortable ride. Whether cruising at slow speeds or accelerating, it adjusted seamlessly to the driving conditions, providing quick and smooth shifts throughout. As for handling, the Mazda 3 does better than all the other competitors in this class. It doesn’t necessarily handle like a sports car but still offers an engaging driving experience for everyday driving. One great offering of the Mazda 3 is its available all-wheel drive (AWD) system, which sets it apart from competitors like the Civic and Elantra as they only come with a front-wheel drive system.

I got to test out the Mazda 3 AWD during a snowstorm on my return from the auto show in Toronto, and it did great. Despite heavy snow covering the roads and other vehicles struggling with traction on uphills, the Mazda 3 drove through these uphills and ramps without any issues during rush hour traffic with constant stops. Its AWD system ensured stability and control, making driving through a snowstorm a breeze.

Interior & Comfort

The interior of the Mazda 3 is just as impressive as its exterior. It’s simple, clean, and a pleasant place to spend time in. Despite being around since 2019, the interior has aged well and still outshines many competitors in this class. Everything in the cabin feels upscale and well-placed, with controls conveniently positioned towards the driver for easy access. Our test model came with a suede material running across the dashboard and doors, adding a touch of luxury to this compact car. The seats not only look stylish in the optional Terracotta colour, but they’re also comfortable and supportive.

As for space, the interior offers plenty up front but the space in the rear is tight, which is one of its major drawbacks. If you regularly carry passengers, this could be a problem. While the front has good legroom and headroom, the rear, especially the hatchback model lacks both. Visibility is another issue, with a small rear window and large blind spots due to the rear side pillars. Shoppers can get the available 360-degree view monitor system, which helps with the large blindspots when parking but comes at an extra cost as it’s only available on the more expensive trims.

The Mazda 3 is generally comfortable, but struggles on rough roads, making the ride less than ideal. The suspension also doesn’t do a good enough job of handling bumps and potholes as well as it should. As for cabin noise, there’s some road and wind noise when driving at highway speeds, but this is typical for a vehicle in this segment.

Technology

Despite being around since 2019, the Mazda 3 does well regarding technology. The 10.25-inch infotainment display is placed high on the dashboard, right in the line of sight for easy access and can be controlled using a rotary dial. It looks good and is user-friendly thanks to a simple and clean UI. Plus, it can be used as a touchscreen when using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is also available on higher trims and combined with wireless phone charging, drivers can keep the cabin wire-free. As for the speedometer, it comes in a half-digital, half-analog form, which is the only part of the cabin that feels somewhat dated. It also lacks much customization and most of the other competitors in this segment offer fully digital dashboards.

Most driver assist features are standard across all trims, including the base model. They perform well, especially the common ones like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist, which make daily rush hour commutes better.

Cargo Space

The Mazda 3 Hatch comes with 569L of cargo volume in the trunk, which expands to 1,334L when you fold down the rear seats. This makes the hatchback model the better choice for those who carry a lot of cargo. As for interior space, the cabin provides a decent amount of storage for smaller items in the front.

Fuel Economy

The Mazda 3 Hatch with the turbo engine has a rating of 10.1/7.5/8.9 L/100km (City/Highway/Combined). In my week-long test, I averaged 10.3L combined which consisted of mainly city driving with some highway stretches. My testing also involved a lot of acceleration which affected the fuel consumption, so most drivers should get better fuel economy.

The Mazda 3 could benefit from a hybrid powertrain and it’s something Mazda should consider when redesigning the vehicle.

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