“It’s the one to have,” we said of the 2017 Mazda 3 on the last day of November, “but not the one you’ll buy.”
Pat TTAC on the back for such an accurate forecast, as the very next day, Mazda revealed that Americans acquired fewer Mazda 3s in November 2016 than at any point since January 2014, a 34-month low.
With the worst U.S. sales results in nearly three years, Mazda USA’s most popular car is now on track to potentially see annual volume fall to a decade low in 2016.
There’s nothing new about the American car buyer’s prerogative to avoid critical advice when it comes to Mazda’s compact sedan. The degree to which the Mazda-supporting suggestion is ignored, however, is, increasingly apparent.
Until recently, American car shoppers generally treated hatchbacks with a level of disdain normally reserved for that fetid cheese you forgot about in the back of the fridge.
It made sense; most of them were base-model penalty boxes with all the charm of plain oatmeal. Now, though, the market is awash with five-doors featuring content levels and power outputs formerly reserved for much more expensive machinery.
Honda recently re-entered the hatchback game with its 2017 Civic, while Mazda has been hawking a five-door 3 since its introduction a dozen years ago. Last week, the stars aligned and the press-fleet gods shone upon TTAC by placing a Honda Civic Hatchback and Mazda 3 5-Door in the grubby hands of Tim and Matt during the same week.
While the two cars were optioned differently (a CVT-equipped Civic LX and a manual-equipped Mazda 3 5-Door Grand Touring), we nevertheless took the opportunity to get these two hatchbacks together and ask the question: “Which is gooder?”
American consumers acquire more than 200,000 new compact cars every month. Only 4 percent of those cars are Mazda 3s.
Compact car buyers are far more likely to drive away from a new car dealer in a Corolla, Civic, Sentra, Elantra, or Cruze; more likely to choose a Focus, Jetta, or Forte, too.
While U.S. sales of compact cars are down 4 percent this year, Mazda 3 volume is down 11 percent.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the more popular compacts. The 2017 Mazda 3 is better than those cars. And this particular 2017 Mazda 3, a hatchback in top Grand Touring trim with the 2.5-liter engine upgrade and — oh my goodness, a manual transmission — is better than other Mazda 3s.
But you remain unconvinced.
Mazda sales representatives across the United States finally have the golden ticket for all of those eventual Honda Civic buyers who walked out the door before even test driving a Mazda3.
“When the driver maintains a constant steering angle, GVC immediately recovers engine drive torque, transferring load to the rear wheels to enhance vehicle stability,” Bill will tell his next up, quoting Mazda USA’s press release. Says Joe to the young couple expecting their first child: “The extremely subtle amount of deceleration force added by GVC normally amounts to 0.01 G or less.” Tom, with a patronizing over-the-glasses glance at the fixed-income senior citizens across the desk, says, “GVC demonstrates its effect consistently over a wide range of driving situations, regardless of the driver’s level of skill.”
GVC, or G-Vectoring Control, is the next step in Mazda’s Skyactiv-branded technology. G-Vectoring control debuts on the refreshed 2017 versions of the Mazda6, a chronically unpopular midsize sedan, and the increasingly uncommon Mazda3, sales of which have tumbled by nearly a fifth since the car’s 2012 peak.