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Entry price: $18,095

Price as tested: $27,720

This week, we’re driving the 2018 Mazda3, delivered in hatchback five-door design and finished in upper-class Grand Touring designation. The Mazda3 hatchback is sibling to the Mazda3 four-door sedan, which offers an excellent entry model called Sport at just $18,095 while the five-door hatchback Sport starts at $19,345.  

Although much smaller in company size than Japan’s “big three” of Toyota, Nissan, and Mazda has been able to carve quite a name for itself with both niche vehicles (RX7 and Miata) and family sedans that attract consumers from all demographic categories.

Mazda vehicles have been successful in the United States dating back to the early 1970s, when Wankel Rotary engine Mazda sedans roamed the highways. The use of the Rotary expanded solely to the Mazda RX-7 sports car models, which today are popular with collectors although no longer available. However, look for an all-new Mazda RX-Vision, which is currently being displayed at major car shows worldwide in concept mode.

Mazda’s formula on how to build a car and follow through with innovative marketing is proven with its “Spread Your Wings,” “Zoom-Zoom,” and “Skyactiv” nomenclature advertisements. Notable too is Mazda’s corporate commitment to road racing in professional prototype, “Road to Indy” series and amateur SCCA Miata racing endeavors. And, considering that some 5 million Mazda3’s have been sold in all shapes and sizes worldwide, corporate marketing successfully keeps its compact class Mazda3 on an entry-price diet while offering upgraded models for those who can afford to spend more on their Mazda.

Potential buyers can rest assured that even if they choose the base entry Mazda3 in either sedan or hatchback styles, they receive all of the Mazda Skyactiv technology that is built into every Mazda. The only real Mazda3 differences are how many amenities a potential buyer desires as the two Mazda3 models of sedan and hatchback differ only in outward design with motivation coming from identical powertrains. Three designations of Sport, Touring and Grand Touring are available.

Mazda’s Skyactiv theory currently centers of its use of two finely tuned engines coupled to matched drivetrain mechanicals for optimal Mazda3 performance. The entry Sport relies on a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 155-horsers and 150 lb. ft. of torque, usually enough for most of today’s Mazda3 owners. A manual six-speed is standard with a six-speed automatic optional for $1,050 more. A second larger engine powers the Touring and Grand Touring models and comes in 2.5-liter four-cylinder blueprint and delivers 184 horses and 185 lb. ft. of torque.

Fuel economy is a high note on both, as a Mazda3 with the base 2.0 four with the Sport Mode automatic delivers 28 city and 37 highway while the bigger 2.5 liter powered Mazda3 delivers 26 city and 35 highway MPG. 

 

Likes: Hatchback versatility, Skyactiv doctrine, looks, handling.

Dislikes: Some road and engine noise, ride a bit firm, less cargo capacity than competitors.  

Next week: 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. 

 

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications.

 

Auto Bits

Survey seeks info on comfort with autonomous cars

BestRide.com is working with Car Talk, MIT and the New England Motor Press Association to extend the research done in understanding how comfortable drivers are with autonomous technology.

The MIT AgeLab is again presenting a survey that asks pointed questions about your experience, interest and knowledge of autonomous technologies. To entice you a bit, if you take it before April 27, you’ll be entered into a drawing for one of 10 $50 Amazon Gift Cards.

The last survey results were the basis for a white paper produced by MIT’s AgeLab last year.  The AgeLab will use this year’s data to understand how opinions are changing as this technology becomes more widespread.

 

— Craig Fitzgerald / BestRide.com

 

The List

A new study by used-car listing site iSeeCars.com found the following cars are more likely to last 200,000 miles or more:  

RankModel 

1Toyota Avalon

1Honda Odyssey

3Honda Accord

4Ford Taurus

5Toyota Sienna

6Toyota Camry

6Chevrolet Impala

8Toyota Prius

9Nissan Maxima

10Chrysler Pacifica

— More Content Now