Perhaps the most noticeable change is with the dash display for the stereo and HVAC, which puts it directly up front beneath the windshield, where it should be, so the driver can keep his eyes on the road, where they should be. That also goes for the handy-yet-miniature navigation screen, measuring only about five inches by three inches. And to further reduce distraction and eyes off the road, the entire navigation system can be controlled by a few buttons on the steering wheel. The 3′s nav system also features all map software on an eensy-weensy SD card, as opposed to a CD. This is an innovation which absolutely cannot be found on any car anywhere near the price of the 3.
Supportive, supple leather-trimmed seats and wrapped steering wheel give the 3 s Grand Touring a rich feel without being too posh, kinda like wearing your best pair of ‘fancy jeans’. For those on a more frugal, Old Navy jeans-type budget, the i Touring comes equipped with cloth seats starting in the high $15,000 range. But in our opinion, if you can afford the extra coin outlay, go for the s GT. It’s worth every dollar.
Another reason to opt for the s model is the exterior appearance. We greatly prefer the RX-8 inspired grille on the s as opposed to the awkward-looking front end on the i. Tack on the dual exhaust, and the s simply has a stronger and more sophisticated look, as it should. But really, if forced to choose between the old base MAZDA3 and the new base MAZDA3 , we’d opt for old. However, like most new car designs which are slow to warm up to, after a few years, rejection is eventually replaced with acceptance.
At least in our eyes, the MAZDA3 is the undisputed lightweight champion of the world when it comes to value, especially the s GT model. Find us a car for under $26,000 that out-features the MAZDA3 and outperforms its handling and amazing practicality, and we’ll gladly pass the title along. But until then, your money absolutely cannot be better spent than with a MAZDA3. Period.
Who Should Buy It?
You mean short of every single living human being on the entire planet holding a driver’s license looking for a fun, affordable, practical, fuel-efficient car that you actually want to be seen in?
If you’ve labored tirelessly for years just so you can afford a status-symbol sled like a BMW 3-series, stop wasting your precious life for such an empty ego boost. Instead, save your money, go out and buy a fully-loaded MAZDA3s GT, and always remember, “Just because it isn’t fancy doesn’t mean it isn’t high quality.” Words to live by, especially in times such as these.
|Official website for Mazda cars, trucks, and SUVs – www.mazdausa.com|
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