In 2010, Mazda introduced the second generation of the popular Mazda3 which is a big improvement over the previous generation.
Performance – Mazdas are known for being more performance oriented vehicles compared to their competition and this generation of the Mazda3 doesn’t disappoint. New for this generation is a larger 2.5L inline 4 engine developing 167 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. Although that seems a little low (especially for a 2.5L) it feels like it’s more than enough to get the car moving and the engine feels like it wants you to keep the revs up and have fun with it. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like a puppy waiting for you to throw the frisbee so that it can chase it, the engine “encourages” you to push the throttle just a little bit more. However, don’t worry if you find yourself going a bit too fast because all trim levels of the Mazda3 come standard with four wheel disc brakes and ABS (with electronic brake force distribution) which are some of the best brakes out of all other entry level vehicles.
In my opinion, the biggest improvement in terms of performance over the previous generation is the new 6-speed manual transmission (a 5-speed automatic or a 6-speed automatic is available on the Skyactiv version). The new 6-speed transmission makes the car a joy to drive, you can go up or down through the gears with ease. If you are a driving enthusiast, then leave the automatic transmission check box on the options list empty.
Comfort – By far the biggest overall improvement is the refined cabin. It has a lot more sound damping material built in that makes the wind and road noise less intrusive inside the cabin. The dashboard has been redesigned to be more modern and although it’s still all plastic, it feels like it’s made of higher quality. The seats come with softer leather, the kind that you’d expect from a $50,000 car rather than a $25,000 car. Overall the cabin is just a nicer place to be in whether you’re setting a hot lap around a race track or stuck in 2km/h rush hour traffic.
Odds and Ends – When the car was first introduced in 2010, many people criticized it for it’s “happy smile” front bumper, but over the years it’s been tweaked with a bit of botox here and lipo there and it looks better than the previous generation. Other improvements over the past include the option of a navigation system, although you may be straining your eyes because the screen is one of the smallest I’ve ever seen in any car. Also for those who are more interested in saving money at the pumps, Mazda introduced in 2012 a 2.0L Skyactiv engine for the Mazda 3 that improves the fuel efficiency by almost 20% to 7.1L/100km in the city and 4.9L/100km on highway.