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azda has been on a bit of a hot streak in recent years, producing cars that aren’t just good looking and well built — they’re also a hoot to drive. The Mazda3 is now the fourth best-selling car in Canada, accounting for more than half of all Mazda’s sales. So when it gets a full stem-tostern redesign, as the new 2014 edition has, it’s worth a closer look. (Full disclosure: I drive a 2011 Mazda3 hatchback and like it a lot. It’s peppy, fun to drive, easy on gas and is deceptively large, which I discovered on runs to Ikea in Edmonton.) After even a few minutes at the wheel, you get the sense that Mazda really grasped why people buy the Mazda3, then doubled down on all these things. The result is what people who buy these really want: a genuine hot hatchback. The first thing you notice is some big changes in the Mazda3’s appearance. It’s all swoops and bulges, and almost looks like it’s moving even when sitting still. These visual genes have been passed down from the

Mazda3 Sport GT 2.5L L4 Skyactiv-G DOHC 16-valve Horsepower: 184 Brakes: 4-wheel ABS trunk size: 572 L (seats up) Engine:

“Kodo — Soul of Motion” concept car, based around a design theme of “motion inspired by nature.” In short, it looks fantastic, especially in Soul Red. To these eyes, it looks far better than competitors like the Hyundai Veloster or even the Volkswagen Golf. The well-equipped Mazda3 Sport GT we drove costs $28,435, and came with some really great looking 18-inch alloy rims, which are available in silver or black. For stock rims, these look awesome, and might just save tuners from blowing their money on aftermarket rims down the road. Beyond the cosmetic, the 2014 Mazda3 has lots of small improvements that add up to a big leap forward. For example, when you locked the previous version the horn honk

was obnoxiously loud, whereas this model hoots at a civilized volume. The black leather interior with red highlights is stylish and youthful, but not overly distracting. The new dash is very clean and minimalist, with few knobs and buttons. This makes it somehow more calming to sit in and drive than the previous edition. Real gearheads will love the instrumentation. Instead of the speedometer being in the central position, there is a tachometer, so you can easily monitor engine speed. Speed, meanwhile, is displayed in digits on a small LED screen. The GT model also has another totally rad feature: a heads-updisplay! Speed is projected in ghostly holographic blue onto a small plastic panel in front of the steering wheel. This is super cool and makes the car seem very futuristic. When you’ve got the navigation system on, it also tells you about upcoming turns. When you feel like really letting it rip, you can push the “Sport” button on the dash. This makes the engine

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Verb Issue S273 (Jan. 17-23, 2014)  
Verb Issue S273 (Jan. 17-23, 2014)  

Verb Issue S273 (Jan. 17-23, 2014)

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