Off-road vehicles are invariably celebrated particularly if they genuinely are capable of traveling over rough terrain. Vehicles that spend their or 99.9% of it on pavement don’t seem to get any special notice unless the pavement is a racetrack of some kind.
However, some passenger cars and utility vehicle are very well suited on ordinary suburban and urban pavement, especially expressways, and one of them is the 2020 Mazda3 Hatchback AWD.
Overview: The hatchback is the latest in a long line of compact vehicles that showcases the Japanese automaker’s skill at turning out cars that are well suited to the needs of all kinds of drivers, including those who enjoy the time they spend behind the wheel. Basically, the Mazda3 Hatchback is a versatile, nimble urban runabout that is spirited and fun to drive.
Exterior: Mazda has a distinctive design philosophy that is apparent from the very front of the vehicle where fascia sets of the distinctive badge in an imposing grille and the light fixtures are neatly tucked.
The Mazda3 Hatchback also has a nice crisp silhouette, extending to the rear of the vehicle.
The hatch area also is tailored into the car’s lines and actually fits nicely with the vehicle’s design. The overall effect is to create an exterior where design the hatch or fifth door seems to fit naturally into the car’s shape.
The design minimizes the impact of the fifth door, which has hindered the design and appeal of hatchbacks. Mazda deftly move around the problem posed by the fifth door, giving the Mazda3 Hatchback AWD a unique profile that makes the entire vehicle more appealing to the eye.
Interior: For a 21st-Century car, the Mazda3 Hatchback AWD has a relatively spare interior — but it works. The controls are close within easy reach while the gauges are large and easy to read both in daylight and at night.
While the design of the interior is straightforward with a long dashboard that neatly wraps over the screen in the center that carries navigation and entertainment information.
The materials selected for items such as the interior door panels, the headliner and the wrapping on the dashboard are of good quality and give the interior of the cabin a polished feel.
… As a small vehicle, some will find the interior small compared to larger midsized sedans or utility vehicles. But I found it had ample room and was quite comfortable on a long drive …
The hatchback body style also offers more space for cargo and luggage. However, I doubt the opening of the hatch will satisfy anyone looking to load a large, square box.
Powertrain: The Mazda3 Hatchback AWD is powered by the 2.5-liter Skyactiv engine that products 186 horsepower and 187-foot pounds of torque. It’s matched up with six-speed automatic transmission with four distinctive drive modes. The drivetrain also includes all-wheel drive.
The smooth and well-timed shifts also help bolster the fuel economy of the Mazda3, which has a long, well-established reputation for fuel efficiency. The car’s numbers on the Environmental Protection Agency’s tests produced a combined rating of 27 miles per gallon, including 24 in city driving and 32 mpg on the highway.
… Overall, the drivetrain seems nicely calibrated and is well tailored to the vehicle as the shifts are smooth and effective …
Safety & Technology: Mazda kept the price of the Mazda3 Hatchback AWD relatively low, $31,470, which includes the $820 destination charge, but it still has the most salient technology such as LED lights in the front and the back as well as features such as radar cruise control, blind spot detection and rear-cross-traffic alert.
The Mazda3 Hatchback also is equipped with Mazda Connected Services via Bluetooth Mazda Connected Services enables access to the vehicle’s health status report and start the engine, lock and unlock remotely through the MyMazda app on a mobile device. The Mazda3 also can be equipped with a Bose sound system that enhances the Mazda Harmonic Acoustics in the cabin. The Mazda3 Hatchback is also equipped with multiple air bags and braking support in emergency stops.
Driving Impressions: Mazda likes to say that its cars are made for driving and the its more than just an advertising tag line. The Mazda3 Hatchback AWD, with its quick acceleration, delivers a great performance on the expressway or on pulling away from a stoplight on a suburban street during a routine commute.
The hatchback has nicely balanced ride and handling with crisp steering and excellent brakes. The car runs smoothly through curves. The overall impression from behind the leather-wrapped steering wheel is the car is enormous fun to drive with impressive driving dynamics built into a well-engineered chassis that is built for all sorts road conditions faced by the most routine commutes.
Wrap Up: As a smaller car, the Mazda3 Hatchback AWD would seem to have a check mark against it a world shifting over to utility vehicles. But I found during my week of driving that it was smart and well equipped for everyday travel.
The cabin also was quite comfortable even on long trips. It also was quiet, and I found it to be versatile with plenty of space for carrying luggage and the packages in the rear compartment. The space isn’t quite as large as that in a utility vehicle but it’s quite adequate and utility vehicles with larger cargo spaces simply aren’t anywhere near as much fun to drive either out on the open road or on city streets.