Why the Mazda3 was named to Automobile’s All-Star list for 2014
If you have not driven a 2014 Mazda3, or any of the other modern Mazda vehicles it has developed on its own, like the Mazda CX-5 and Mazda6, this may be hard to explain. None of these cars are the fastest in their category. None are the most pure sports car for the dollar (Miata aside). Yet, car magazines and car nuts always come back to Mazda when they start picking cars that are “All-Stars.” Why is this? The main reason is that they are a joy to drive.
Drive a 2014 Mazda3 and you will understand. Our suggestion is to drive the 2.5 liter SKYACTIVE engine version first. It makes a class competitive 184 horsepower and almost exactly that number in ft-lbs of torque. In a car this size, engineered this well, that is all you really need for on-road use. You can certainly pay more, and Mazda has a version of the 3 that has waaaay more power called the MazdaSpeed3, but that is a different animal. This is a car that combines a great price, top-tier fuel economy (39 highway in the sedan version), lots of room for the class, and a driving experience that is hard to beat at its base price of around $25,000.
We are focused on this particular Mazda3 variant because it is the one that Automobile had in mind when it placed it on this hard to make list of exceptional cars. The economy version of the Mazda3 with its 2.0 liter engine and low price of around $17K is not really the same car. As Automobile put it “The third-generation Mazda3 offers the most value on the car market today—and not just because it’s inexpensive. Long the most entertaining of compact cars, the 3 now also happens to be one of the nicest. Compact cars aren’t supposed to feel this sophisticated, but the Mazda 3 does.”
In its road-trip article about the All-Stars the Automobile Magazine writer had just stepped out of cars that cost nearly $100K and then into the Mazda3. While chasing the Porsche Cayman through some fantastic back-roads at 103 mph he said of the 3, “I’m happy to be trailing behind in the Mazda 3. I’ve been hogging the hot performance cars through much of the early part of the trip (sorry, but I’m not sorry) and, silly as it sounds, am relieved to be in something that provides an elevated sense of normalcy. Long the most entertaining of compact cars, the 3 now also happens to be one of the nicest. The switchgear feels nearly as good as that in our 4-series—right down to the click-wheel controller—and, amazingly, so does the steering.”