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Auto blogWed, 02 Oct 2013 11:57:00 EST
We're not going to beat around the bush: for the kind of person who willfully chooses to take longer, windier and more scenic routes to get to Point B, the 2014 Mazda3 is the new compact car measuring stick by which others will be judged. That doesn't, of course, make it the right choice for every buyer.
We'll spend the next thousand words or so explaining the whys and hows that make our opening statement a fact, but for now, suffice it to say that Mazda has engineered its latest crop of vehicles - namely the CX-5, Mazda6 and its smaller sibling and subject of this test, the Mazda3 - from the ground up. Absolutely everything about the Mazda3 is refined for 2014, from its chassis to its engines and everything in between, and it was done in a completely new and holistic way. Every component, subcomponent and stamping required to bolt and weld together an automobile was rethought to ensure the Mazda3 has what it takes to compete with such established benchmarks as the Honda Civic and Ford Focus.
One day removed from our latest round of spy photos, Mazda has finally lifted the veil on its 2016 CX-3 crossover, giving us our very first glimpse at the Mazda2-based entry into the rapidly expanding world of subcompact crossovers.
Mazda's KODO design language is once again on display, presenting some increasingly familiar styling touchstones including a five-point grille that integrates neatly with the front headlights to present an almost protruding snout that's both clean and complex. Like previous KODO designs, the CX-3's profile features swoopy character lines that highlight the wheel arches and a higher beltline. Mazda has cleverly chosen to black out the CX-3's D-pillar in favor of a floating roof look, a design decision that adds to the model's fashionable styling. It's the rear of the design that borrows most heavily from the Mazda2, largely in the shape of the headlights and rear hatch.
Globally, under that fashionable sheetmetal sits Mazda's 2.0-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder that can be mated to a six-speed manual or automatic. Unfortunately, in North America, it looks like we'll only get the automatic. Regardless of gearbox, power can be sent to an optional next-gen all-wheel-drive system that uses the active torque control system found on the Mazda CX-5. Like the Mazda2, front-drive is standard.
If you stop by your local Mazda dealer this month, with any luck, you'll see the much-anticipated 2014 Mazda6 parked in the showroom - there are already a few hundred of them out there. That's quite an accomplishment in light of the fact that it isn't even calendar year 2013. The move is part of a strategic decision by the Japanese automaker, which is hoping to capitalize on holiday showroom traffic. (The last five days of the year are typically among the busiest dealer days all year).
If you happen to spy the rakish sedan, you may notice something missing - a window sticker. That's because Mazda (like other automakers) can't legally display the Monroney on a 2014 model year vehicle until January 1, 2013. According to Autoblog sources, Mazda dealers are legally prohibited from letting you test drive until the start of 2013, so it's more of a sneak preview than anything else. Even so, we reckon shoppers will be impressed when they finally get a look at those window stickers - Mazda hasn't announced fuel economy figures yet, but Autoblog has learned that the 2014 model will carry a pair of impressive numbers: EPA estimates of 27 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway using regular gas.
Mazda dealers are legally prohibited from letting you test drive until the start of 2013, so it's more of a sneak preview than anything else.