A different kind of premium driving experience
Mazda’s continued journey towards becoming a pseudo luxury brand is a fun one to be a part of, especially behind the wheel of something like the Mazda3 GT. The compact sedan is still in its fourth generation and enters the 2022 model year with minor changes, which is just fine as the car is uniquely positioned offering a level of performance and refinement not really seen anywhere else in the segment.
Though the Sport hatchback variant is arguably the better looking of the pair, the four door is a sleekly-shaped vehicle showcasing swoopy, fluid bodylines that are a product of the Hiroshima automaker’s Kodo “Soul of Motion” Design language. A lot of higher-end equipment is standard on all trims such as full LED lighting, matte finish 3-D grille, large 8.8-inch centre display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and more.
Stepping up to the GT Darpan tested unlocks a whole lot more hardware, from the 18-inch light grey metallic aluminum wheels to a power glass moonroof. The magic, as they say, really happens in the cabin, however.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Mazda makes some of the nicest interiors today. For the first time in the sedan, buyers may choose a stunning Garnet Red leather upholstery — doing so also bundling together Jet Black Mica side mirrors and black metallic coated alloys. Buttery soft, the seats are complemented by an equally soft-to-the-touch black leather steering wheel and dash coverings featuring contrast red stitching.
The GT upgrades the regular eight-speaker stereo to a Bose 12-speaker premium audio system that thumps with the best of them. The infotainment setup remains quite an intuitive one, as the next-generation HMI (human machine interface) Commander knob, used to control most functions, is designed to be operated via touch.
Surrounding the rotary dial are select shortcut buttons for the home screen and radio. In regards to the latter, trying to surf SiriusXM channels for example can be a pain. Pushing down on the knob selects a station, and then a series of submenus must be navigated to return to the list selection screen. The only workaround is to program a list of quickly-accessible favourites.
Recently Mazda reintroduced an optional turbocharged motor into the mix, which we reviewed (and loved) in a previous issue. This time, it’s the naturally-aspirated Skyactiv-G 2.5 four-cylinder engine that is quite frankly a hoot to drive as well. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission (a six-speed manual is offered on the Sport), there’s 186 horses and 186 lb-ft of torque on tap even capable of squealing the tires when getting on the pedal.
The independent front/torsion beam rear suspension rides smoothly, yet smooth doesn’t mean soft. While cornering ability isn’t quite up to, say, MX-5 standards, handling is crisp and the vehicle is made for urban streets possessing the ability to turn on a dime. Frequent skier or snowboarder? Considering packaging in i-Activ AWD for an extra $2,000.
Other additions for 2022 include a new Platinum Quartz Metallic paint colour and the availability of Mazda Connected Services on every grade.
MSRP: $31,100 (as tested)
Motor: 2.5-litre four cylinder
Horsepower: 186 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 186 @ 4,000 rpm
Gearbox: six-speed automatic
Layout: front engine, front-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 11.3 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)
Photos courtesy of Mazda Press Room.