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  • Writer's pictureAlain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

2020 Mazda 3 Sport GT AWD

This week we are reviewing the 2020 Mazda 3 Sport in GT trim with AWD. Our vehicle was assembled at the Hōfu plant in Japan, where it's assembled alongside the CX-3 and the Mazda 2 destined for the international market. Our test vehicle has an MSRP of 31500.00 CAD

Fun Factor: 7

Can it Family: 7

Fuel-Friendly: 6

HWY-warrior: 8

Karaoke Friendly: 7

Baby-friendly: 7

City Cruising: 7

Let's address the looks of Mazda 3 Sport as everyone seems to hesitate on some of the new styling choices Mazda has made, especially since the previous generation was bang on with its styling. Yes, we are talking about the C-Pillar styling, we have to say that after seeing and testing the Mazda 3 Sport in real-life, the C-Pilar grew on us, and we found it to be fitting with the rest of the styling of the vehicle. Let's not forget the "Soul red crystal metallic" colour, which looks fit for a car 2-3 times its selling price. That was apparent in our Instagram poll as 76% of responders thought the styling of the Mazda 3 Sport is better than the more expensive Mercedes Benz A250. During our test, we could not believe how good the interior/exterior looked. The interior is functional and elegant as if Mazda took the best of what the Swedes and the Germans had to offer when it came to interior space. In a market where people look towards SUV's when they need an AWD vehicle, this new model with an AWD variant brings a little diversity. The main question we were asked on the Mazda 3 Sport was if the AWD system could handle Canadian winters. We didn't have much snow in town; conveniently, we needed to bring our little scout to camp in the countryside, a lovely village called Chertsey. Here we found twisty scenic roads to appreciate the agility of Mazda's AWD system. In the snow, it was capable of eating up the road without difficulty even with 25cm of freshly fallen snow; the system also worked great when there was ice underneath the snow. What helped were the Michelin X-Ice that handled well on snow and provided a reassuring driving experience.

Another surprising aspect was that at the entry of a corner, the Mazda 3 GT feels very much like a FWD car. And as if by magic, thanks to the G-Vectoring Control system, when there is understeer, it corrects itself and continues to corner as if you had entered the corner with balanced AWD vehicle without the fuel economy penalty. In our real-life acceleration test, we achieved 100km/h in 7.94 seconds with winter tires. With proper summer tires, this number should come closer to 7 seconds. Mazda uses the 2.5L inline 4-cylinder in this variant that is naturally aspirated and produces a respectable 186hp with a maximum torque figure of 186 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm. The power suffices for this hatchback for regular commuting; however, we sure would love to see the same engine as in the CX-5 with a turbo to revive the MAZDASPEED nameplate. Two items we would like to see improved is the braking on the GT variant to feel more engaging, and our GT version came with cylinder deactivation shutting off 2 cylinders, which has proven to be problematic. The system is meant to improve fuel economy; however, we didn't see it often in use during our test, perhaps due to our spirited driving or outside weather conditions. Seeing as other manufacturers who implemented a similar system saw unwanted results, a mild hybrid system could offer a better solution; however, these types of systems do come at a cost.

Our family of 5 felt cozy inside the cabin. Our 3 kids sitting in the back were able to fit without any trouble. As for adults, 2 adults will find a comfortable position; taller adults may need to enter with their heads first due to the sloping roof of the Mazda 3 Sport and its smaller rear door. The driver and the co-pilot are presented with a simple but practical interior that is oriented to comfort, starting with no hassle climate controls, easy to find buttons for the heated seat and supple leather seats. The driver also gets an electric seat and heated steering wheel, although only at 9:15. The trunk offer enough space for 2 suite cases or also has space for a compact stroller.

After testing the Mazda 3 Sport GT, we observed a fuel economy of 9.0L per 100km over a 700km distance, with an average HWY consumption of 7.2L per 100km and in the city, we saw 9.8L per 100km. Mazda announces very similar fuel consumption in the city; they announce the exact fuel economy we saw in our test of 9.8L per 100km, and for the HWY, they announce 7.4L per 100km. You can expect these results to be the lowest results you can achieve as our test was done while outside temperature oscillated between -2c and -15c, driving on unplowed roads in a spirited way.

Driving on the HWY with the Mazda 3 Sport shows that they've not forgotten the driver in the equation. The driving dynamics are tuned sporty without being too stiff over bumps; the steering is well calibrated so that tight corners can be taken precisely. Visibility is good except when it comes to the C-pillar that can easily hide a car; we got used to it, and it didn't obstruct our view so much when combined with the blind spot monitoring. At the end of the day,we really enjoyed driving it over long distance, it offered superior comfort, never felt dull and we appreciated the enhancement that have been made versus the previous generations.

The sound system in the Mazda is a 12-speaker Bose system, yes it's not our favourite brand; as we've mentioned in past reviews, the system warmly replicates upper & mid frequencies, but when it comes to lower frequencies, they sound unnatural. While the system in the Mazda does a good job overall for the audiophile that likes music styles such as EDM or Urban music may not get the full experience, different music styles will provide a richer experience with this system. Now for the infotainment, we will start with the fact that it isn't a touch screen; we think that the click wheel actually does a better job to controls the system and also makes it easier to use while driving and keeps your screen clean from fingerprints. The menu isn't cluttered; it' simple and offers all the information needed on a daily basis. The integrated GPS is visually pleasing as it provides 3D graphics with cues for buildings and water movement. We used the system for a couple of trips and found it easy to operate and looked liked it belongs in a car that would be manufactured in 2020 with its vibrant colours. The system now also offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard on all trims. Overall the electronics within the Mazda 3 were pleasant to use and refreshingly easy to operate. The only point we would like to see put forward is the location of the seat memory controls that are somewhat hidden beside the steering wheel.

Getting larger or front-facing car seats in the Mazda 3 Sport does require some moving around as the door opening isn't that wide, medium car seats, on the other hand, were able to be installed with ease in the vehicle. There are latches available for 2 car seats, they are covered with a cap. Once removed, we were able to reach the latch easily, and we were able to do an installation quite quickly with a number of different child seats. It's fairly simple for young kids to get into the car; the door handles are easy to operate, and while the smaller rear door gives taller adults a hard time, it makes it more accessible for kids to enter as there are several points to which they can hold. Children would be able to reach and buckle their seat belts themselves with no sweat.

In the city the Mazda handles well, the suspension takes road imperfection well; it's setup up a little firmer/sportier all in a well-balanced fashion. We also enjoyed the fact that when a change of speed was announced, it would automatically show in the heads up display. Talking about the heads-up display, it is no longer a plastic tray that pops out; it projects on the windshield with a quality similar to what we would find in a BMW. An aspect we think that would need an adjustment or an improvement is the blind-spot monitoring in the city. On several occasions, we received false alarms when there was only a wall or a fence in our blind spot, on the other hand, when a vehicle was actually in the blind spot, it would advise it once the car passed. On the other hand, cross-traffic alert works like a charm.

Why would we buy the 2020 Mazda 3 Sport or what we liked about it: Good handling and precise steering, the suspension is sporty but comfortable. Infotainment easy to use not many sub menu, limited amount of menus make it user friendly. Full equipped version is affordable, manual transmission available (Non-AWD versions only).

Why we wouldn't buy the 2020 Mazda 3 Sport or what we didn't like about it: The sound system isn't as clear as we like. A mild hybrid system might be preferable to the cylinder deactivation.

Mazda has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle, we have no affiliation with Mazda Canada, and the above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the vehicle referred above.

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