2018 Mazda3 Sport GT Hatchback: Balancing price, premium and performance

    Posted by Shane Kalicharan about 6 months ago
    It’s been one of Mazda’s top sellers since it launched and remains a favourite on Canadian roads. Mazda owners have come to enjoy the Mazda3 as a reliable, economical and fun car to live with. It can cover all spectrums from basic and frugal to comfortable and even borderline luxurious. The latest Mazda3 promises to be all of that, and even more – especially in the range topping GT trim we’re testing here.

    Just based on looks alone, the Mazda3 scores well. After undergoing a facelift in 2017, the 2018 Mazda3’s design remains virtually unchanged – and that’s completely okay to us. Even the pre-facelift design of this Mazda3 generation is beautifully sculpted. The GT trim stands out further with 18-inch alloys, self-leveling LED headlights, LED taillights and a black metallic front grille. 

    Inside, the Mazda3 GT has aged very well. The clean, driver focused design of the dashboard and steering wheel is easy to adjust to and navigate. The infotainment screen can be a little tricky to navigate at first but quickly becomes intuitive and easy enough to use without needing to take your eyes off the road for a prolonged period of time. A small flip-up screen serves as a heads up display on the Mazda3, bringing the more expensive tech down market. Some will find it gimmicky or distracting, but with info like navigation and speed displayed, we found it useful enough. The seats in the GT are comfortable for daily use and bolstered well enough to handle some more spirited driving. Legroom and driver comfort are very good. Taller drivers may find their knees touch the centre console, but thankfully, it features a soft surface that prevents discomfort. Rear legroom is also very good, but taller passengers may find it a little cramped. The average person, however, will be comfortable. The only thing that could make the interior of the Mazda3 better is a panoramic sunroof. But at the Mazda3’s price point, its understandable why it’s not included. The rear hatch adds a very appreciated level of practicality to the Mazda3, especially with the seats folded down.

    While the Mazda3 normally comes equipped with a 2.0L engine good for 155hp, the GT trim gets a nice bump in power from Mazda’s Skyactive 2.5L 4-cylinder engine, boosting power to 184 horsepower. Fuel economy has been rated at 6.9/9.3 L/100km, for Highway and City, respectively. While it’s not a bad figure, it’s not as fuel efficient as we hoped the little hatch would be. For those more concerned about fuel economy, the 2.0L engine on other trim levels might be a viable option. Despite the small hit in fuel economy, the 2.5L engine more than makes up for it in power, torque, responsiveness and feel – especially when paired with the standard 6-speed manual transmission which our car was fitted with. An automatic transmission is also available at no cost. We loved the slick shifts of the manual transmission. Its longer throws make it more accessible for daily use and a little less intimidating to new drivers. It’s not as sporty as Mazda’s MX-5, but its handling strikes a wonderful balance between the comfort needed on a daily drive, and a level of sportiness that makes that drive a little more engaging. 

    The Mazda3 Sport is good value for money, starting at $21, 730 in Canada. It’s been a strong seller for the independent Japanese company, and for good reason. Those that own one tend to stay loyal to the brand. The range topping Sport GT pushes that price to $26,930 before options and fees. The only way this car could be more fun is if the MazdaSpeed performance name was brought back. But until that happens, it’s hard to beat the fun, practicality, comfort and reliability you get from the Mazda3 Sport GT.
    2018 Mazda3 Sport GT, Mazda, Mazda3, Hatchback, Skyactive, Car Review

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