For the most part, the current-gen Mazda 3 has been universally accepted with open arms. On the other hand, the second-gen model it replaced was arguably the least popular iteration--partly due to its infamous "smiley grille," which has (thankfully) since been replaced with something much better.
The Mazda 3 found its styling mojo when it finally adopted the Kodo design language. Its upright grille, curvy expressive body lines, long dash to axle ratio and RWD-like proportions instantly gave it a more premium feel. And its cabin reflected the upmarket look of its exterior via a clean driver-oriented dashboard layout.
A recent facelift keeps the design looking fresh. Its long list of features will also impress buyers. This includes airbags, ABS with EBD, electronic stability control, parking sensors, a back-up camera, a 7-inch touch screen, and on higher-end variants, a cool heads up display.
There are two direct-injection gasoline engines to choose from: the base 1.5-liter mill, which makes 108hp and 144Nm; and the more powerful 2.0-liter unit, which produces 151hp and 200Nm. The sole transmission choice is a six-speed automatic. As expected from the zoom-zoom brand, special attention was given to ride and handling.
While the bigger powerplant is on a par with most of its non-turbo competitors, the same can’t be said about its base engine. The little naturally-aspirated 1.5-liter motor seems a bit out of place in the million-peso C-segment. Hopefully the Japanese carmaker gives it a power boost to sweeten the deal. It may not be perfect but the Mazda 3 is still one of the most stylish fun-to-drive cars in 2018.