Features

February 10, 2014

Redesigned Mazda3 among best new small cars

Mazda must be dabbling in black magic.

How else can you explain the fact that this relatively small Japanese company is doing what no one else in the car industry seems to have figured out? They’re building cars that get amazing gas mileage and are exhilarating to drive at the same time.

Doing one or the other is easy. If you cram a giant engine into a little car, you’ll get people’s hearts racing. And on the flip side, you can put a puny engine into a tin-can car and get good gas mileage.

But what Mazda has done with this car, the all-new Mazda3, is remarkable.

First of all, it’s rated for 41 mpg on the highway. To put that in perspective, it’s the exact same mileage figure as the first-generation Toyota Prius hybrid, which set the standard for hyper-efficient cars when it was introduced.

Unlike many fuel-saving cars, though, the Mazda3 doesn’t feel like a dinky, hamster-powered contraption. It feels quick and nimble, matching the breathtakingly fun feeling that I loved in the previous generation 3.

I’m not quite sure how Mazda managed to do that. Mazda’s Department of Marketing Mumbo Jumbo came up with the term “SKYACTIV” to describe how the engine, transmission, body and chassis work together to boost performance and gas mileage, but black magic still makes more sense to me.

Whatever the root cause, this is one of my favorite small cars to drive in a long time. And it’s for reasons that go much deeper than gas mileage.

From the driver’s seat, this new design feels like one of the fastest, most fun compact cars you can buy. It doesn’t drive at all like a car that’s designed for good gas mileage, strangely enough.

I love the new look Mazda gives this car for 2014. It gets a long, sports-car-like hood, swept-back headlights and a sleek, expensive-looking overall shape. I think it looks like a smaller, sportier version of the pricey Lexus RX 350 that I tested last week.

Inside, this is one of the best cabins I’ve ever seen in a compact car. It has soft materials on the dash, tight construction, and — at least in my test car — all the bells and whistles you could possibly imagine being in a commuter vehicle: automatic headlights, a heads-up display, lane departure warning, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, blind-spot sensors, a navigation system and lots more.

On the downside, all those extras added a lot to the price of my test car. It rang up over $29,000, which — to me, at least — seems like an awful lot of money for a Mazda compact car. The base version of this car, starting under $17,000, makes more sense for most people.

As a whole, though, this is one of the most impressive small cars I’ve driven in years. Even at the end of its lifespan, the previous generation Mazda3 was one of my favorites, and this new version raises the bar even higher.

It’s kept the lovable, fun-to-drive spirit of the Mazda3 while adding better gas mileage for today’s world. If Mazda had to stick pins into Honda and Toyota voodoo dolls to do that, so be it.

 

1
Text Only
Features
  • Dalton Dulcimers to perform for Guild’s In Concert program

    The Creative Arts Guild will welcome the Dalton Dulcimers at its next In Concert program on Thursday.

    April 12, 2014

  • Bryan Collins: The truth of the resurrection

    April 11, 2014

  • Earl Brackin Band to perform at Dalton State

    The Olympic Games have historically been an effective way of bringing people from all corners of the world and all walks of life together.

    April 6, 2014

  • The Rev. G. David Henderson: Satan’s worldwide anti-Christ religion — now in our midst!

    Since my devotional last month, many claiming to be followers of Jesus have written the Forum of this newspaper, wrongfully proclaiming God doesn’t require followers of Jesus to obey the moral laws God gave to Moses and Israel — reputably known as the Ten Commandments. The author of our Bible (the Holy Spirit) responds with divine disgust and anger, “such isn’t so” (“God forbid” — Romans 6:15)!

    April 4, 2014

  • The Rapha House: Eating disorders

    Every year a week in February is designated as National Eating Disorders Awareness Week by The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). The theme for 2014 was “I Had No Idea” stressing the need to address misconceptions about eating disorders.

    March 23, 2014

  • Final performance for senior dancers

    This year, 11 “sisters in dance” will perform together for the last time.

    March 22, 2014

  • Church news

    News and notes from area churches.

    March 21, 2014

  • The Rev. Rodney B. Weaver: Where is God

    How will this play out?
    A northern female (a native of Detroit, Mich.) comes to a small Southern town called Dalton. This female has now been arrested for the death of a convenience store worker. Known for being the Carpet Capital of the World, Dalton now has the distinction of being the location of a horrific murder.

    March 21, 2014

  • Chester V. Clark IIIThe miracle of life

    \With spring in the air and the dogwoods starting to bud, my reflections turn again to the miracle that we call life. Call me simple, easily impressed or perennially forgetful; but isn’t it amazing that dormant plants and trees can come to life again after the bitter cold of winter?

    March 14, 2014

  • Bryan Collins: Spring cleaning

    As this article is being written, the next day’s weather forecast is for that powerful polar vortex to once again dip down into our area, producing cold temperatures and maybe even a little frozen precipitation.

    March 7, 2014