In the market for a compact car? Get a Mazda 3

In Hawaii we rented a Mazda 3, and it confirmed what I already knew: this is the best car in its class. As soon as we sat in it, I could tell the quality and finish were a step up from the cars it competes with. It felt closer to a VW or a Mini, than to a Honda or Toyota.

You can ignore features. This car feels great to drive. The steering, handling, braking are all perfect. At times while driving the windy roads of Kauai, it almost felt like I was in my Miata. I loved it. Every Mazda has the soul of a sports car.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve recommended the Mazda 3 (and before it, the Mazda Protege) to many of my friends. Fully 100% of those friends have bought one. I can’t take credit for their decision: I’m sure they made their own conclusion on the best way to spend their $15,000.

My conclusion: people who bought other cars simply didn’t test drive the Mazda 3. It’s not the most popular car out there, but it deserves a lot more credit than it gets.

Mazda has racing in their blood. They care about quality, performance, experience. They even own a racetrack in Monterey (Laguna Seca). It’s something I wish more car makers ranked high in their priorities. Mazda seems to have found the perfect balance between performance and practicality.

Zoom zoom.

(To be fair, the Ford Fusion seems like another great car to consider. But I haven’t driven one yet. I never thought I’d be recommending a Ford)

2010-mazda-3-mps22

17 comments

  1. mazda3 is a great car. mazdaspeed3 is an amazing car. 🙂 better handling, better seats, better exhaust note…and really, it’s not that much more expensive.I drove a mazda3 rental this summer…while fun, it just made me wish it had an extra, I don’t know, 130 HP?As for the exterior redesign? I still think my 07 ms3 looks hot.

  2. Before I moved to Chicago, I use to own a Mazda Protedge SPEED. It was sooo awesome, to this day best car I have ever owned. I agree with your assessment on the 3 as well. Mazda is a company that is making awesome cars right now, every time I see one around I want to buy it right there thats how satisfied I was with Mazda. Maybe when I graduate from school again here in Chicago and make my way to California I will buy one! hahaha heres to hoping.

  3. Sounds like a lot of Mazda fans, for sure. I’ll admit, that’s a cool little car.I have just shopped for an economical commuter car packed with features. I didn’t even bother to look at the Mazda, even though the price was decent. The fuel economy just doesn’t stack up to some of the other car offered at the same price. For 16k I opted for the Ford Fiesta. It’s packed with features, including auto transmission, cruise, a/c and Sync techologies. Oh, and the fuel mileage is coming in just under 40 mpg highway. 🙂

  4. <html><head></head><body style="word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; ">@Rich Palmer: Perhaps your car choice was best for you and i congratulate you on the purchase.<div><br></div><div>At the same time, i can’t help but wonder if you should have looked at the Mazda as well. It’s based on the same platform as the Fiesta, but i think is a notch up in quality. The latest car and driver rated the Mazda 2 above the Fiesta.</div><div><br></div><div>And I personally believe that anyone who drives a Mazda ends up buying one. Passing on it even for a test drive is not being a good consumer.</div><div><br><div><div></div></div></div></body></html>

  5. Fiesta has a quite simple rear axel and possibly other parts of drivetrain too. I consider Mazda 3 to be above the Fiesta class – it’s a bigger car with better handling and power.

  6. I appreciate the advice. The Mazda line simply didn’t offer the mpg that I require. I commute 90 miles a day. None of the cars that I considered provided the 36-40 mpg option. It is interesting that the Mazda and Ford product were based on the same platform, but mpg ratings are different. I know that Ford owned Mazda for a time.I also have the option for discounts on the Ford line that were not available elsewhere. When looking for initial cost, plus overall fuel efficiency, I think I made the right choice. I’ll have 100,000 miles on the car in less than two years.One final point — my father worked for Ford for over 35 years. Good to support the company that put bread on my table through the years. 🙂

  7. Just rented a Mazda 3 for tooling around in Boston – you’re right, it’s really fun to drive! Great stock stereo and I love, love, LOVE the Bluetooth integration.

  8. I completely agree with you, <a href="http://www.hornsbymazda.com.au/">new Mazda</a> 3 is really the best in its class, I personally love that car a lot, as it is a great value for money and has great looks. Mazda 3 is truly the perfect balance between performance and practicality. Great post! It has some useful information.

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