By on December 21, 2016

2017 Mazda3

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

When we started this nonsense Ace of Base series all the way back at the beginning of August, our very first contendah was the 2016 Mazda3 i Sport. Since then, the boffins in Hiroshima Prefecture put their heads together and applied their considerable skill in updating their compact sedan. Can a slathering of new styling and a further refined driving experience keep the 3 in the hunt for base-model supremacy? Is G-Vectoring Control simply a marketing gimmick only found on top trims? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Let’s start with what hasn’t changed. The all-caps and spellcheck-defying SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engine is present and accounted for in the base model, cranking out 155 horsepower by way of sixteen valves and dual overhead cams. A great shifting six speed stick remains standard, as does niceties such as push button start, keyless entry, and a steering wheel which adjusts for reach and rake.

Inside, even the basement models deploy an iPad-esque seven-inch full color display set proudly on top of the dash, serving up infotainment and communication controls. My sole gripe is the lack of SiriusXM radio. Bluetooth and a couple of handy USBs should satisfy all but the most ardent of gadgetphiles. There’s is a backup camera at this price point — an excellent inclusion as the 3 may well serve as a ZOMG FIRST CAR for many new drivers. Junior has no excuse for backing into a lightpole during a late night run to White Castle.

Mazda charges an extra $300 each for three of the eight available hues on the 3, allegedly due to the unique Takuminuri paint process consisting of color, reflective, and clear coats. Fancy. The natty Deep Crystal Blue Mica remains $0, along with a new-for-2017 shade of Eternal Blue Mica. These colors work well with the newly sharped exterior at an agreeable MSRP of $17,845.

Mazda will tell you it pursues ideal Jinba Ittai, which means “horse and rider as one,” helping to explain why just about every Mazda drives better than its competitors. To that end, Mazda has been building cars based on a human-centered design philosophy that prioritizes people. Equine comparisons aside, G-Vectoring Control was invented to deliver on this edict, adjusting engine torque in response to steering wheel action in an effort to optimize the vertical load on each wheel, enhancing the vehicle’s responsiveness and stability. This was space-race stuff not too long ago, so for it to appear on a base model sedan with a sticker well south of $20,000 is nothing short of remarkable.

But no one listens to us. Folks are all too busy buying crossovers.

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer may sell for less, so do your research and bargain hard.

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63 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2017 Mazda3 4-Door Sport...”


  • avatar
    OldManPants

    They just refuse to learn. The great WE don’t care about handling. Mazda deserves its fate.

    馬の尻

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Golf TSI is equal or better in every way besides design. And yes, that includes driving dynamics.

    • 0 avatar
      andyinatl

      For base model yes.. However i’m bummed out Golf doesn’t come with leather option. Leatherette stuff is crap.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Sporty – you forgot reliability. Also the 3 drives better than the Golf to most people who have tried.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Good grief. So the Mazda being as anodyne, nose heavy and inert at the wheel as the Golf on the 2 lane roads of my commute I know like the back of my hand is my fault? Lol. The car is not that good. I was really disappointed.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          You were disappointed, but the majority of people who review and test these cars has the Mazda as being better on that metric. Then we come to things like reliability.

          The Golf and the new Civic are excellent cats and that is why the 3 is not selling as well as it has. Also the CX5 is stealing sales – more profitable since Mazda makes a profit and globally increasing sales.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            I was checking Consumer Reports Mazda3 record – it has one of the most stellar records overall since 2010. Lexus-worthy one at that

      • 0 avatar
        Der_Kommissar

        ” Sporty – you forgot reliability. Also the 3 drives better than the Golf to most people who have tried.”

        People who try don’t have to live with the other compromises this car makes to provide said driving experience. Get the Golf.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        Golf has terrific reliability, ESPECIALLY compared to Mazda3, which tends to rust within 5 years. Golf is a well made, durable car that will last 10 years/150k miles without major repairs, assuming it is maintained. It is a far better car. In the US, it is easy to find one for under $16k.

    • 0 avatar
      Don Mynack

      It also costs $2000 more, and you even said it yourself – it doesn’t look as good. The Golf is also a good choice but I preferred the Mazda on the test drives I did.

    • 0 avatar

      And let’s not forget how well VW’s reliability as a trustworthy corporation holds up.

      You guys can get your Golfs and happily burn an extra $2k on a product from a company that was caught openly lying to its customers and regulators. Have fun with that.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        My bank, my mortgage company, and my government all lie to me, I may as well have my carmaker do so as well. I’ll get better front seat comfort, some road noise control, and a usable rear seat in the process.

        We can’t have it all.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Not sure what the VW reliability gripes are about. My wife’s ’07 Rabbit was a CR recommended used car pick and has lived up to that recommendation over the 4 years we’ve had it. Probably the most reliable car I’ve ever owned. These are not MKIVs guys.

    • 0 avatar

      …..

      Wow.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d say both the Golf and the 3 are at the top of the class dynamically. Which one is better depends on your particular needs.

      After sporty and sharp-edged? Mazda, for sure.

      If you want a car that feels capable and refined, the Golf is the way to go. My Jetta isn’t far behind in this respect either.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “But no one listens to us. Folks are all too busy buying crossovers.”

    It’s not that they’re not listening, it’s that they weren’t even asking your opinions in the first place.

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    I would consider it if it was a proper fastback like the old Mazda 6, the right blend of looks and practicality.

    (Yes there is the hatchback ‘3’, but I always think that those 2 box shaped hatchbacks look a bit truncated, like a dog with no tail)

    • 0 avatar
      bsolof

      I’ve always liked Mazdas and live in an area where salt and rust isn’t much of an issue so the Mazdas have been good to me. Other than too much noise the cars have been very enjoyable and pretty excellent in terms of dependability. The local Mazda dealer is even pretty good at fixing them while they are still covered.

      Folks who aren’t “into” cars don’t much care about handling or fun. Yet if you ask them to name the cars they’ve had many people have never, ever in their lives driven a fun car. Not even a modestly entertaining car. It isn’t that they don’t like a fun car it’s that they’ve never even experienced a fun car. They claim they hate driving but have never been in a car that might sway their opinion.

      If anything, it continues to get harder to find an entertaining ride, particularly in lower cost vehicles. Everything is skewing towards CUV type vehicles that are practical daily drivers but generally pretty lame in terms of driving dynamics. But face it, if you had never driven a fun vehicle wouldn’t you go pick out a practical CUV instead of a less practical sedan?

      It’s nice that Mazda, Volkswagon and Honda (finally!) are making interesting small cars.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I hate the current trend of shortened trunks, in Mazda’s case accentuated by the long schnoz. Just ends up being “funny looking.” The 3 hatch just lost what utility it did have with the awfully flattened/chopped hatch.

    My family loves our two old MPVs, but when car shopping these days I probably wouldn’t even bother test driving a Mazda. Those older cars managed to blend utility and comfort (foremost) with some decent handling (for what they are) and good steering response. The emphasis there was that comfort and utility still came first. Now it seems that they’ve focused so much on the handling (and heavy handed styling) that utility and comfort got thrown out with the bathwater.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      “shortened trunks,…long schnoz”

      first thing came on mind mind when I saw new Civic was, “Honda copy Mazda”. Add bulging fender and front side profile screams “Mazda”

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Yep, one issue I experienced even with my 9th gen Civic that I didn’t’ appreciate when car-shopping was the small (12.7 cu ft) trunk. Mazda is right there at 12.4 cu ft. That combined with the small opening really limits utility. Other compacts like the Jetta, gen 1 Cruze, and even the subcompact Versa all have 15cu ft trunks.

        The new Civic sedan really should have been a lift-back.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The people hating on Mazda have become almost as annoying as the Mazda fanboys.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      More annoying because they support Honda and Toyota but do the seem to want to accept there is another Japanese car maker who values engineering prowess. And for those people they conveniently forget the great Toyota went to Mazda for their new small car, the iA.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      The cars are not that good. Nowhere near as dynamically superior as the internet and auto journalist cabal claims. Most of the people angry about the difference in opinion have a personal stake in the upholding of this refrain (i.e. choice-supportive bias like mike978 or auto journos not wanting to undermine their credibility by admitting to being wrong).

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “The cars are not that good.”

        Miata?

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          An exception to the rule. Don’t get me wrong. I love Mazda’s design language and the cars aren’t terrible. But they are not “ooooo my gooooooddddd I just glazzeedd my underrooooossss” good if the current gen 3i rental I had is a bellweather of the mainstream offerings in general.

      • 0 avatar
        sutherland555

        sportyaccordy I don’t know about the current generation but at the time when I bought my 2013 Mazda 3, it’s driving dynamics were far superior to the Civic I test drove. It was on par with the Focus but the Mazda transmission was far better than the Ford DCT. Didn’t try the Golf as it was out of my price range and VW harbours (rightly or wrongly) poor long term reliability in my books.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Of course you have no bias Sporty! You just feel the need to comment on every Mazda article and bash them.
        As for bias – I have owned one Mazda, one BMW, one Subaru, one Toyota, one VW and one SEAT. I am not exactly brand loyal. The Mazda was the best of the bunch. There are some things that could be better but that can be said for all cars even sporty Accords!

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          That’s just not true. I only talk about the 3, as that’s the one I’ve driven, and I don’t “bash” them. You need to get some thicker skin. For a claimed brand agnostic you seem pretty eager to swoop into every discussion about Mazdas to defend its honor and cite how much praise the autojournos heaped on it, as if they are all credible and never wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            Not “claimed” brand agnostic, but an actual one as demonstrated by the list. I note you usually only swoop in to complain about Mazda. Underpowered you say yet with as much if not more power than the equivalent Toyota or Honda, yet never seen you call a Civic or Camry underpowered.
            I will defend Mazda’s honour as you put it against factually incorrect statements. You like hyperbole, which when questioned then falls away – like your statement that they makes cars that are not good. Then back off when examples of universally praised vehicles are given. Why do you just stick it to Mazda?
            Maybe something to do with you owning one of the few reliable VWs!( That was a joke, don’t act hurt.)

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      People hating on Mazda haters has become as annoying as the annoying haters themselves.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’ll say I like the long nose because of the proportions it gives and the profile. Plus Mazda pushes the front wheels far enough forward that it doesn’t have a silly amount of overhang from the front wheels to the bumper like some FWD cars.

  • avatar
    jhughes

    I drove one of these as a rental in Montreal for a week last summer. Actually, scratch that – it was a trim level BELOW the lowest available in the US. I still enjoyed it. Handling was on point. Power, which is great for an MX-5 (same engine), is lacking in the heavier 3, but it’s not bad. Being a rental, our car was cursed with the automatic, but even it wasn’t too bad, great for Montreal traffic (the Decarie parking lot), and out in the Laurentians I could shift it manually to keep it more fun. The back seat is too small for my wife’s two growing boys, but other than that I’d consider one for myself as a daily driver.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    One of the local Mazda dealers had one of these hatchbacks for $16K with the preferred equipment package.

    Thought about it for a little bit, the back seat is a little small, but I could make it work. I shouldn’t have thought about it at all, because I’ve had rusty Mazdas and swore I’d never get another, but sometimes I’m an idiot.

    Did a little research and the 2.0L versions are now built in Mexico. I liked that they used to be built in Japan, but I guess Mexico is OK.

    Then I researched their Mexican plant, it’s brand new, and it’s in an agricultural region in Mexico with no manufacturing presence and a populace with no manufacturing experience.

    I think I’ll wait a few years for Mazda to work the bugs out of that plant.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    “Folks are all too busy buying crossovers.”

    That’s not primary issue. Folks are also too busy buying Civics, Corollas, Sentras, Elantras, Focii, Cruzes, and Jettas. I like it, but the 3 isn’t appealing to the compact car buyer for some reason and crossovers isn’t it.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    “late night run to White Castle”

    well done sir
    brings back memories….

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I had the chance to ride in this cars sibling, the CX-5. I will say in person these don’t look half bad (still not as nice as a clean Protege)

    On the other hand, riding in the back it was noisy (the engine had a bad drone to it), cramped leg room, and a bit rough not helpwd by our rough streets. The auto buff will see this as “sporty” combined with the steering and aggressive rear suspension setup. The average Joe will see this as cheap.

    Tis a shame, Mazda can make some nice looking cars but their stubbornness will only hinder sales, no matter how many buff books they buy out.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      To be fair I don’t think anyone has a truly “nice” riding, quiet compact crossover short of something like the Lincoln MKC or maybe a Q5 (in non-sporty, fat-tired trim). The Rav4 until it’s most recent refresh had a terribly stiff legged ride (but was reasonably muted), the previous generation Rav4 was frankly no better. I haven’t been in a ’12-’16 CRV so I don’t have much input there. The 2nd gen Rogue supposedly rides smoothly, I wasn’t particularly impressed on my test drive on concrete slab pavement that makes up part of my commute. I haven’t ridden or driven a CX5 at all, for all I know it might be the worst of the bunch.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        I didn’t like how the MKC rode when I had one as a loaner. But that may have something to go with getting out of an MkT into an MKC. I much prefer the MKX for a little more $$$.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          There ya go! I’m curious, what trim MKC was it, and how big where the rims? I seem to recall Alex Dykes complimenting the MKC for being soft and cushy.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            I’ve actually driven a few and I think it depends on what version you get. The base AWD 2.0T MKC I had a loaner was floaty and made me seasick. The AWD 2.3T mid-trim version I had for a weekend was much better. It had a good balance of comfort and poise. Both had 18 or 19 inch wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        Foresters ride nice, but they’re not quiet.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I’ve ridden in other “CUV-things”, trust me, the Mazdas a bit worse due to its loud engine drone and Mazdas pretense of “sporty”.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        Had a CX-5 rental for a week. It was all right. Getting back into my Traverse was amazing — limo smooth and quiet with much better damping. HUGE difference in ride comfort and noise insulation.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I will never regret buying the GT version of our ’08 Mazda 5. Interiors on nearly every car have improved dramatically since the 5 was built, but the extra stuff is always worth it to me. Granted, we did buy a year old leftover with cash on the hood, meaning we got the GT for the price of a basic sport.

    The 5 has a fair amount of rust for being low miles(only 55k) and well-cared for. It is also rather noisy, like 90’s Accord noisy. I’d have to spend some time with a new 3 to see if that’s still an issue.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      It was noisy in the CX-5 I rode in, which mostly is a jacked up 3 with maybe a little extra insulation. Sadly it didnt have 90’s Accord interior quality (nor huge windshield).

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        If my Cruze has one thing going for it, it’s that it is quiet in terms of wind and road noise. It makes the fact that the 1.4T is a coarse motor much more glaring. Thankfully, peak torque is around 2000 rpm, so you rarely push it past the 4000 rpm mark, where it gets ugly.

        It also serves to remind me that while the admittedly old Mazda has much wind and road noise, the engine is rather refined if not strong and backed by a very good automatic. It’s still a fun little box that doesn’t mind being pushed. The Chevy is not fun.

        From my experience from owning an 04 Jetta 1.8T wagon, a VW would give me more refinement with a slight loss of out and out driving fun. That’s why the GTI is high on my list for cars next year. But I’ll have to try the Mazda too.

  • avatar
    keviton

    Well. Nice car, nothing new.

  • avatar
    rolando

    Simple solution, jack it up an inch and call it the CX4!

  • avatar
    fred0804

    The only flaw with the Mazda 3 is that it truly is LOUD. I actually own two a 2013 touring sedan and 2015 sport hatch so I’m not writing from hearsay or a weekend rental. Mileage has been in the mid to high 30’s and between the two vehicles there have been zero issues in a combined 51,000 miles. Each vehicle came certified and cost under $14,000. Can’t complain!

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