My love for Mazda vehicles runs deep — I won’t deny it. Something about the great way Mazda manages to combine fuel economy, low pricing, style, safety, and performance into one package amazes me. That said, like a true fan, I am also Mazda’s biggest critic. Recently, I got my hands on the 2018 Mazda3 Hatchback Grand Touring for a full week and here’s what I thought of this small hatchback.
As always, the Mazda3 hatchback is a stunner. Mazda’s Kodo design continues to hold strong in 2018. Its hard body lines, sharp corners, and shaped-by-the-wind sheet metal is enough to make any car nut drool. What’s more, this stylishness continues inside, as Mazda fills the 3 with sharp-contrasting colors, round air vents, a three-post steering wheel, thin-backed seats, and all the features any buyer would want.
Speaking of features, Mazda treated me to something special, as my Mazda3 tester was a Grand Touring model, so it had all the bells and whistles. The list of features included 18-inch wheels, a moonroof, leather seating, dual-zone auto climate control, LED headlights, a 7-inch color touchscreen, and a nine-speaker audio system that punched well above its weight class.
If there was one area the interior failed, it would be noise: A lot of engine and road noise got into the cabin. I can also point to the fairly tight rear seat and the subpar cargo room.
In performance, the Mazda3 did exactly as I expected. Sure, its 184-horsepower 2.5-liter engine is powerhouse, but it’s adequately quick and delivers up to 30 mpg combined. Handling is really where it’s all at for the 3, as its zoom-zoom personality really comes out in the corners. Honestly, I can’t think of another non-performance car in its class that could handle like it.
Safety? No problem, as the 2018 Mazda3 is an IIHS Top Safety Pick — it’s only flaw is its “Acceptable” headlight ratings that prevent it from getting the Top Safety Pick+ rating. Of course, to reach this level, you have to equip your Mazda3 with the optional upgraded Smart City Brake Support, as the standard version only musters up an “Acceptable” rating.
Overall, the Mazda3 is a great option for any buyer. And for those with a little more premium taste, the Grand Touring model is a great value at $24,945. Mine came with the optional Premium Package ($1,600), which added navigation, paddle shifters, adaptive front lighting, Smart Brake Support, adaptive cruise, traffic sign recognition, lane-keep assist, and much more.
The total MSRP for my tester was $28,020 after the $875 destination charge.
As Tested: $27,145
- Zippy handling
- Great fuel economy
- Stylish looks
- So easy to drive
- Easy to bump infotainment interface
- A little stiff at times
- Lacks brand cachet
- Tight cabin