QOTD: Unlikely Wallflower?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd unlikely wallflower

I took a walk the other night, taking advantage of unseasonably mild temps to enjoy a little exercise and fresh air. One damp, gloomy block after another passed until I saw her. Under a streetlamp, in front of a drab walk-up. Beckoning to me without saying a word.

I stopped in my tracks and stared, mouth slightly agape ⁠— not unlike George Costanza in that episode with the producer’s 15-year-old daughter.

“Why aren’t you more popular?” I thought.

The arresting object under the streetlight was, in classic TTAC writer fashion, a base-model compact car. A Mazda 3 to be exact. Showroom new, by the looks of it, and outlined in perfect profile. Few automakers have mastered the art of lending RWD proportions to a FWD car quite like the folks at Mazda.

Its updated KODO design language is *chef’s kiss* ⁠— well, the sedan, anyway.

And what have you read about on these digital pages over the past several months? The shockingly steep descent of the Mazda 3, a vehicle Mazda actually spent a fair bit of time and money on to boost its appeal. I probably passed ten 2020 Toyota Corollas during that walk.

Up here in Canadialand, the Mazda 3 retains its base engine and broad manual transmission availability, making the entry-level model a better value than in the United States. Even the carryover 2.0-liter makes 155 hp and 150 lb-ft ⁠— a far cry better than the base Corolla L’s 139 hp and 126 lb-ft. Manuals can be had on both bases. After freight and a raft of government-imposed fees, the slinky Mazda comes out $926 cheaper, and does so with standard 16-inch wheels.

With the previously mentioned attributes and available all-wheel drive, not to mention the continued presence of a five-door model, Mazda 3 sales sank 20 percent in Canada in 2019. The Corolla? Down 2.5 percent. In the U.S., the gap was even wider.

There’s criticism to be levelled at the Mazda, what with its uplevel positioning in the States (a situation the automaker desperately wants to change), but few would disagree that, inside and out, the 3 is the looker the Corolla ain’t. And yet it suffers, standing ignored and tearful on the sidelines of the compact car dance as Ms. Sarah Plain and Tall takes off with the star quarterback. On his other arm? The Honda Civic.

Choice is something we enjoy in the Western world. And in a diverse marketplace like this, there’s always winners and losers.

What car or truck model surprises you with its (relative) unpopularity?

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3 of 51 comments
  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Jan 31, 2020

    I don't get the love for the looks of Mazda cars at all. They are generally too "Schnozzy" for me. I do like that red paint though, and the interiors are ok. To be totally honest, it's hard for me to be excited about any FWD car, regardless of make.

  • Roberto Esponja Roberto Esponja on Jan 31, 2020

    I think the last Hyundai Azera was a good-looking vehicle. Surprised it didn't do better, especially nowadays when it seems like most people see Hyundai and Kia as the be-alls of the automotive industry.

    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Feb 01, 2020

      Re: Azera - apparently no one was wondering what the answer was to the question: "What would Korea's take on the ultimate Buick LeSabre be like?"

  • SCE to AUX Base Price: $99,795 US / $115,133 CANAs Tested: $100,370 US / $115,133 CANBoth versions can't cost the same in CAN $.
  • SCE to AUX @Matt Posky: This may surprise you, but I agree with your criticisms is this story.This vehicle has the look and weight of the Telluride, but without the right chops. A vehicle like this is intended to be a great highway cruiser loaded up with all the stuff one takes on a trip - not a 0-60 racer.My former Sedona (RIP, sniff) had a great blend of space, power, and towing capacity. It was lovely for countless road trips, but it was a ponderous commuter.The EV9 won't make a great road trip car due to its short range, and it is too hulking to make sense as a commuter. They should have fitted a 150 - 200 kWh battery so it could at least go some distance, and that might justify the bulk.No way I'd go in for ~$60k for this vehicle.
  • Jeff S I like the looks of this car and in today's dollars it might not be that bad a buy but my issues with this Genesis would be Hyundai's reliability in recent years has been below average and getting a car like this serviced at a Hyundai dealership. I do like the rear reclining rear seats and the massage settings. Beautiful car but I would take the safer option of a preowned Lexus which gives you better reliability and lower maintenance costs than the South Koreans and the Germans. Genesis is definitely a luxury car with the extras that are standard but it is still a Hyundai. These will depreciate a lot as do the German cars which once they get old a Pandora's box of issues crop up and they become expensive to maintain. Good write up.
  • Tylanner Cinnabon is the holy grail but Starbucks or Dunkin will do. I will only resort gas-station coffee in extraordinary circumstances.
  • Akear My Fusion is nearing the 200,000 miles mark. However, I do not want to replace it with an unreliable Escape, which could blow its engine by 60,000 miles. Ford has gone down hill since Fields was forced out. Both Hackett and Farley have made Ford the nation's recall king. What happened..................