The Mazda3 has enjoyed a great deal of popularity in Canada, and remains a strong priority for the company despite the trend towards CUVs over other car types among many consumers. With a number of improvements, is the 2017 Mazda3 Sport GT the best Mazda3 yet? Read on to find out.
NO EXTRA CHARGE FOR AN AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
Usually, the manual transmission comes standard on vehicles that offer a choice. What Mazda has done for the 2017 GT offering makes it easier on the wallet for those who want two pedals as opposed to three. It’s a clear sign-of-the-times move in a world where the third pedal is dying an accelerated death, and a smart business move as well to attract buyers.
I understand that the new generation of drivers doesn’t care much for the DIY method and I think that at some point in my lifetime, I’ll experience the extinction of the manual gearbox, which is an entirely different article I’ll write.
The entry level GX and the mid-level GS both charge you $1,300 to get an auto-box, so the incentive is smartly placed on the top tier GT offering. Even though the #savethemanuals campaign has some support, it won’t be enough at the end of the day.
Oh, and for the record, I chose the manual gearbox for my test drive since Mazda makes one of the best manuals in the compact segment.
BIG IMPROVEMENTS TO THE INTERIOR
Major upgrades for the 2017 model include an available heated steering wheel, an available colour heads up display (which I didn’t use and could stand to go without on Mazda3 models), and a quieter cabin that allows you to enjoy more of the available nine-speaker Bose sound system (available through their Premium Package for $2,900).
The seven-inch colour touchscreen and joystick-esque controlled infotainment system is still easy to operate and maneuver. I’m sure there are some folks that still think it sits too high off the dashboard but the win for that is that it keeps your line of sight higher.
There’s plenty of room for four inside and the leather seats I had were quite comfortable during my week of mixed driving. There’s a bit too much hard material on the inside but it’s a minor complaint against an otherwise very well put together vehicle.
With the rear seats up, you’ll find 572L of cargo space. Fold the rear seats to get a very useful 1,334L. And since it’s a hatchback, it scores full marks for utilitarianism, especially for those who are hauling larger items.
ALL-NEW G-VECTORING CONTROL
Mazda has found a way to improve its already strong ride-quality in the 3. Having owned a 2005 and 2010 Sport GT model, I can attest to just how much fun the car was to drive and how accurate the steering feel was. For 2017, Mazda introduces G-Vectoring Control, and here’s how they explain it:
“Founded on our groundbreaking SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, G-Vectoring Control works behind the scenes to achieve a smoother, less fatiguing drive for you and your passengers by subtly adjusting engine torque, intentionally optimizing vehicle weight transfer during everyday commutes and spirited drives alike. The result is steering that is more precise and a ride that is more comfortable for drivers and passengers.”
Simply put, your driving experience will see stronger accuracy and precision.
PLENTY OF NEW SAFETY TECHNOLOGY
In addition to a standard rear-view camera on all trims (very smart move, Mazda), the GT comes out of the box with Smart City Brake Support, Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Hill Launch Assist.
Upgrade to the Premium Package and you’ll enjoy Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning System, Smart Brake Support and Forward Obstruction Warning.
As we advance with safety technology, gone are the days where only the high end vehicles had these features. For a hair less than $30K, the Mazda3 Sport GT gives you all of these safety features that, if utilized properly, makes the road safer for everyone.
IT’S GOT PLENTY OF POWER
The Sport GT sports a front-wheel drive 2.5 L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engine producing a well-balanced 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft. of torque that runs on up to 50 L of 87 octane. In typical Mazda fashion, the steering is accurate and responsive, handling is best in class, and there’s certainly nothing “vanilla” about the driving experience. As someone who spent 11 years behind the wheel of more than one manual Mazda3, there’s been a natural progression forward for driving enjoyment. The gears shift smoothly, clutch feel is wonderful, and it’s hard to believe you’re given so much excitement for less than $30K. I’ve had the smaller 2.0 L 155 horsepower engine and it fares quite well, but upping the power and torque take it from good to great performance wise.
Fuel efficiency rates at 9.6 city and 7.0 highway for L/100 km. Conversely, that no-charge auto-box rates at 9.0 and 6.7, so slightly better. I’ll still take the six-speed manual eight days a week.
(Even their website has a picture of a manual transmission!)
SO, WOULD YOU BUY ONE, JAY?
In a heartbeat and mostly because I’ve spent so much time with the Mazda brand. Between the fuel efficiency, terrific ride quality and responsiveness, great looks (that second generation was beautiful except for that ugly smiling front end, I’m happy they tossed it) and off the charts fun to drive factor, I would love to see the 2017 Mazda3 Sport GT in my driveway daily. I love the usefulness of the hatch, the 18” wheels, the smooth shifting transmission and dollar for dollar, it rates highest for value and excitement.
Enjoy the full gallery below: