Mazda's sleek hatchback starts a six-month stint at our Miami office.
The 2020 Mazda3 is an important turning point for the brand. The first model year for the overhauled version of the lovable hatchback (2019) had its fair share of quality control issues and recalls. And despite the redesign, Mazda actually sold fewer examples of the car in 2019 than it did the year prior. That makes the 2020 model year a do-over, of sorts.
Even amid these difficulties, the Mazda3 is a fantastic little car. We were smitten after our first drive last March, and gave it similarly high marks during a review a few months ago. To confirm whether or not the Mazda3’s luster will last over time, we enlisted a 2020 Mazda3 Hatchback Premium with all-wheel drive in the Motor1.com long-term test fleet. Over this six month period, we’ll evaluate its credentials as a compact hatch, and discover how it holds up over thousands of miles of testing.
How We Spec’d It
At $25,100 to start, the all-wheel-drive Mazda3 commands a $1,400 premium over the front-wheel-drive model. Regardless of drive type, the hatchback has an impressive selection of standard features, like dual-zone climate control, an 8.8-inch infotainment screen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, and push-button start. Upgrading to the $26,600 Preferred package brings some added luxuries like heated front seats, a 12-speaker Bose audio system, and power-folding side-view mirrors.
Our car is spec’d with the top-trim Premium package, which costs $28,900 and adds leather seats, a head-up display, a moonroof, paddle shifters, and adaptive LED lights in addition to all the gear from the two lower packages described above. Equipped with a few extra accessories such as a $100 cargo mat, a $275 wireless charging pad, and $65 wheel locks, our long-termer rings in at $29,790. Add on $920 for destination charges and we reach the total MSRP of $30,710. While that sounds high for a car that starts at $23,700, a maxed-out Mazda3 costs $34,265. Cresting $30,000 is expensive for a compact hatch, but the Mazda3 is the most premium-feeling car in its class.
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The First 2,000 Miles And Beyond
Powering the Mazda3 is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, good for 186 horsepower (129 Kilowatts) and 186 pound-feet of torque (252 newton meters). While Mazda offers a six-speed manual on the hatchback (front-wheel drive-only), our all-wheel drive-equipped car comes with a six-speed automatic. For context, the front-wheel-drive hatchback with the six-speed automatic transmission achieves fuel economy figures of 26 miles per gallon city, 35 highway, and 30 combined. Equipped with all-wheel drive, the new 3 hatch gets 24 mpg city, 32 highway, and 27 combined.
Around town we’re mostly in love with how this powertrain works. Power is adequate in most scenarios, and the transmission shifts smoothly and quickly. Our only complaint is the engine’s buzzy noise, which penetrates the cabin too much when hard on the throttle. Despite this character flaw, we still consider the engine/gearbox a tick in the win column.
Even on short drives between the office and home, the Mazda is engaging to interact with. The steering is heavy at low speeds, but provides wonderful feedback to the driver. Push the car harder and the chassis responds with poise, fighting body roll at every corner. Collectively, the Mazda3 feels so solid from behind the wheel, that it leaves craving a more powerful version – because the car’s bones can handle it.
We’re happy to report that many of our short-term inclinations about the Mazda3 held true (at least so far). Week after week, the little hatchback impresses with its pleasant on-road demeanor and comfortable cabin. In a recent road trip to the The 24 Hours of Daytona, the Mazda proved a fantastic companion, with its adaptive cruise control and other safety features easing the burden of a boring slog up I-95. Some early standout favorites are the Bose sound system and the red leather interior, which we’ve found holds up to dirt and sand quite well.
The next few months with the Mazda3 will include more thorough testing, including a comparison with a segment rival and some other adventures to further evaluate its compact credentials. We have a long way to go, but the little Mazda3 is off to a very impressive start.
Gallery: 2020 Mazda3 Long Term Test
2020 Mazda3 AWD