2014 Mazda3 S GT Long-Term Update 2
My parents recently came to town for a weekend visit, and on our way to dinner my mom asked me if I like "this little Mazda." I didn't hesitate to reply, "I really like it a lot. It's such a solid, small car, and a great fit for my lifestyle." I pointed out how premium it feels, inside and out: great leather, rubber, and plastics; properly bolstered seats; a strong and refined engine; and distinctively shaped exterior sheetmetal that separates it from the pack. Oh, and it keeps returning impressive MPG, tank after tank. Of course, as I said this, I glanced in the rearview mirror at my dad, and could tell he wasn't impressed with the backseat room. It is tight back there by any standard, making it truly only comfy for kids, groceries, and luggage. But that being said, with those seats down I'm able to fit my mountain bike into the back with the front wheel off. No doubt there are other C-segment hatchbacks that can fit even more in the rear, but none offer the taut, handsome, Italian-esque styling of the '3.
The rest of the weekend was spent explaining to my dad how well the Mazda steers. Mazda benchmarked its own Miata when developing the electric-assist steering in this car, and the result is proper line-holding, great response with accomplished turn-in, and appropriate weight and feedback. All of it adds an extra dollop of driving dynamics to daily across-town jaunts and errand runs. Supplementing the great steering are supportive, well-bolstered seats upholstered in high-grade leather. They keep the driver and front seat passenger planted during high-g maneuvers.
It's understood that many Mazda3 owners won't know or appreciate how well-tuned their steering system is. Yet for those who have a taste for proper turn-in, the 3's steering ability is reason alone for choosing it over similarly sized hatches from Hyundai, Kia, Ford, or Subaru.
More on our long-term Mazda3 S GT: