How do you become a brand’s top-selling model in the world? Features like fuel economy and affordability seem to help, but give car a hatchback and it earns another advantage, utility. Mazda accomplished that with its entry-level model, the Mazda3, but not content to stop there, Mazda decided compact hatches needed one more attribute, performance. Latino Traffic Report recently tested the 2020 Mazda3 hatchback and it delivered on most of the above, although its sportiness does come at a cost.
A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 186 horses and 186 lb.–ft. of torque powers all Mazda3s. While it’s available with a six-speed manual transmission, which tends to heighten the sporty experience, the test model came with the six-speed automatic transmission with the Sport mode.
Equipped with iActive all-wheel-drive, the test model had an EPA estimated fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. It’s the lowest EPA rating for the Mazda3 lineup but only by two mpg in the city and three mpg on the highway. It averaged 29.3 mpg during the weeklong test drive. The 60/40-split rear seats folded flat to reveal 47.1 of cubic ft. of cargo room.
While the test model did not come in Mazda’s signature Soul Red Crystal exterior paint color, it did have red leather seats on the inside by virtue of being the top-of-the-line or Premium trim level. The Premium trim also included a power moonroof, paddle shifters, a head-up display on the windshield or in Mazda vernacular, Active Driving Display, and adaptive front lighting, among other features.
Compared to a sedan, a hatchback brings added value and fun so the list of standard safety features gets a bit more generous. All Mazda3 hatchbacks include a rear backup camera, a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and Driver Attention Alert that monitors the driver’s alertness and issues an alarm if it senses fatigue, among other features.
Mazda’s infotainment system starts with Mazda Connect and an 8.8-inch display, HD radio, Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, eight speakers, and voice command. The test model also came with XM Satellite, but the overall set-up, with a volume control in the center console next to the shift knob, was awkward and the process for setting channel favorites was counterintuitive.
Other luxury features on the test model included heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, aluminum speaker grills, the Bose premium audio system, and an eight-way power front seat.
Pricing for the 2020 Mazda3 hatchback starts at $24,495. The as-tested pricing for the hatchback came to $31,470. By comparison, the Mazda3 sedan starts at $21,895.
Sí: Fun to drive, the Mazda3 hatchback lives up to its promise of performance and utility.