The penultimate AutoGuide.com Car of the Year Award finalist hails once again from Mazda. Yes this is the second car to be nominated from the SkyActiv company.
The truth is, Mazda is on a roll right now. Everything coming out of the brand’s factories lately has been a hit. First, the 2013 CX-5 impressed us, then the 2014 Mazda6 wowed us, now the 2014 Mazda3 is realigning our perception of what a compact car should be.
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The Mazda3 has long been a favorite of compact enthusiasts thanks to peppy engines and a solid chassis. But this came at the price of efficiency and comfort; the Mazda3 was not a class leader in either category. Lately Mazda has been pushing efficiency; SkyActiv has quickly become a household name in the car business.
MORE EFFICIENT, MORE POWERFUL
So with the new 2014 Mazda3, a large emphasis was put on making this car one of the most efficient in the segment. With official EPA fuel economy ratings of 30 mpg city and 41 mpg highway for the entry-level automatic-equipped car, not only is this one of the most efficient cars in the segment now, but the Mazda3 has improved an impressive 6 mpg city and 8 mpg highway compared to last year’s base model. But Mazda didn’t stop here. Besides improved efficiency, the Mazda3 has also gained more power. How does 184 hp and185 lb-ft of torque sound while still achieving 37 mpg on the highway?
What really secured the Mazda3 as an AutoGuide 2014 Car of the Year Award finalist though was the rest of the car. Powerful engines, an engaging chassis and great efficiency are all nice, but if the rest of the car is a letdown it won’t appeal to general consumers; compact cars are mass market transportation after all.
See Also: 2014 Mazda3 Review – Video
Inside, the car features a restrained, yet elegant design that borrows heavily from the likes of BMW and Audi. There is a touchscreen display protruding from the dashboard and a knob/dial control set-up found between the front seats. Upper level Mazda3s also receive a head-up display. We aren’t crazy and wouldn’t classify this interior up to the levels of a luxury car, but the overall sensation from behind the wheel of the new Mazda3 is that the car should cost a lot more than its entry price.
And that is just it. The Mazda3 starts at $17,740 after destination charges; significantly cheaper than any other finalist selected this year. No, the Mazda3 isn’t perfect; it has bad sightlines, a few rattles and the infotainment screen might be a tough sell to some. But in an incredibly competitive market, for a manufacturer to come along and launch a new vehicle that is class leading in so many ways, it‘s a no-brainer to include it as a Car of the Year finalist.
GALLERY: 2014 Mazda3
Each day this week we will be presenting another finalist for AGCOTY with the winner being announced next week. Stay tuned all week and let us know which car is your pick as the winner!