Mazda’s compact 3 sedan and 5-door Sport model combine for lots of sales in the Canadian market, their success due to great styling, superb performance, impressive interiors and plenty of features.…

2017 Mazda3 Sport GT Road Test

Mazda has a much stronger following in Canada than the U.S. We tend to like smaller, sportier, fuel-efficient cars and SUVs, while our American friends traditionally purchase their vehicles one size larger.

Yet that doesn't explain stronger sales of the Toyota Corolla family, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra/Veloster, Volkswagen Jetta/Golf/GTI, Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Subaru Impreza/WRX, and Kia Forte last year. The salt gets further rubbed into the wound when learning the only two direct competitors it outsells in the U.S., the Dodge Dart and Mitsubishi Lancer, have already been officially discontinued. Yikes!

By comparison, the Mazda3 may not be rivaling the Civic for top sales anymore, or for that matter rubbing shoulders with the Corolla and Elantra, but it's still ahead of the others. Therefore Mazda Canada should probably feel pretty good about the job they're doing here, or cry in their coffee cups about the poor results their American counterparts Read Full Story
Mazda’s CX-3 remains one of Canada’s most popular subcompact SUVs, a segment that’s grown by leaps and bounds since its inception 7 years ago. Now, with 13 entries and 3 more on the way, does the…

2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD Road Test

I don't know about you, but 2010 doesn't seem that long ago to me. Can you believe there were only three competing models in the subcompact SUV category back then? In only seven years that number has skyrocketed to 13, while another three have been announced for next year. Just for fun, do you want to guess how many mid-size sedans have been added to the Canadian market since 2010? None. In fact, back then there were 13, whereas now only 11 go up against each other, and one of those is slated for cancellation at the end of this model year. How's that for a turn of events.

You've spoken Canada, and the automakers are listening. Yesterday's Mazda6 owner is today's CX-5 and CX-9 buyer, while even the once mighty Mazda3 is watching its market share slowly erode thanks in part to the highly successful compact CX-5 and this little subcompact CX-3. I can understand why. As much as I still like the Mazda3, especially in five-door Sport form, if push came to shove I'd more likely lay real Read Full Story
Mazda redesigned its popular CX-5 compact crossover SUV for 2017, and we review it in top-tier GT trim. It looks fabulous with new Kodo styling, offers near premium interior quality, is filled with impressive…

2017 Mazda CX-5 GT Road Test

My road test of the redesigned 2017 Mazda CX-5 GT (AWD), which was to take place in Nova Scotia, started with a flight from Prince George, British Columbia, to Vancouver, one of my favourite short hauls. The turboprop aircraft fly low enough that, on a clear day, the passengers get a fantastic view of the Chilcotin Plateau and Coast Mountains. I usually spend my time staring out the window like an excited child thinking of previous adventures and adventures to come.

In the backcountry I prefer human power to motors, so don't do much off-road bashing, but the drive to where a hike or snowshoe trek starts can be a bit tricky. For that matter, the same can be said of winter travel in much of Canada. All-wheel drive and a bit more ground clearance are therefore desirable features for any vehicle, and reason enough Canadians often opt for sport utilities. Many buyers also go for SUVs because of the higher seating position, versatile load-carrying capacity, and easier entry and egress. Read Full Story
Mazda has a much stronger following in Canada than the U.S. We tend to like smaller, sportier, fuel-efficient cars and SUVs, while our American friends traditionally purchase their vehicles one size larger.…

2017 Mazda3 Sport GT

2017 Mazda3 Sport GT
Still one of the best looking cars in the compact class, this 2017 Mazda3 Sport GT deserves its strong sales. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Mazda has a much stronger following in Canada than the U.S. We tend to like smaller, sportier, fuel-efficient cars and SUVs, while our American friends traditionally purchase their vehicles one size larger. Case in point, from a list of 13 direct competitors the Mazda3 was fourth most popular in our compact segment through 2016, but only ninth in the U.S. I think it deserves better here in Canada let alone its poor showing in the States, but the success of any car is as much about the massive marketing spend of the industry’s big players, as it is quality of goods and value for money. Mazda has long made excellent products that perform better than average and deliver a near-premium look and feel, yet they’re a relatively small independent Japanese brand that doesn’t have the advertising clout of Toyota, Honda, Nissan, the big domestic brands or the Koreans.
2017 Mazda3 Sport GT
The “Sport” designation refers to the 5-Door hatchback model in Canada, while the sedan only goes by Mazda3. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Fans of this alternative import carmaker tend to like Mazda’s more exclusive cachet, especially those who appreciate better than average driving dynamics. I happen to like Mazda’s styling more than most other brands as well, while its interiors are second-to-none within the categories it competes in. Take this Mazda3 Sport GT. Its deep, wide, chrome-trimmed grille with blackened slats has great style and a totally unique presence on the road, its top corners visually bleeding into this model’s projection LED headlamp clusters, while its sporty yet clean lower fascia incorporates tasteful splashes of chrome, LED driving lights, and the tiniest of LED fog lamps. The rest of the bodywork flows gracefully from front to back, the car perfectly proportioned despite its compact dimensions, while its backside is finished off with a discrete body-colour rooftop spoiler, elegantly simple LED taillights, and a matte black diffuser-style bumper cap with integrated dual chromed tailpipes at each side. It’s one great looking ride from all angles.
2017 Mazda3 Sport GT
This GT model’s two-tone leather, metal and high-quality composite interior is a step above most rivals. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Inside it’s downright premium, especially in my tester’s two-tone black and “Pure White” motif. The dash top, much of the instrument panel, and the door uppers are surfaced in high-quality soft touch synthetic, whereas the door inserts and armrests are finished in padded and stitched leatherette, and the seats get covered in optional perforated leather. A semi-digital colour TFT primary instrument display is laid out in a sporty motorcycle centre-pod design, while an available class-exclusive head-up display powers up from the dash top to project critical info where it’s easiest to see without taking eyes from the road. At centre, a 7.0-inch fixed tablet-style infotainment display could be straight out of an Audi, BMW or Mercedes, and just like these premium marques it’s controlled with a knurled metal rotating dial on the lower console. Another metal-trimmed dial allows volume control, while an electromechanical parking brake joins an aluminized Drive Selection rocker switch featuring “SPORT” mode next to the leather-clad/satin-silver aluminum adorned shift lever.
2017 Mazda3 Sport GT
The leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, semi-digital gauges, tablet-style infotainment, and dual-zone auto HVAC give the GT premium appeal. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The stylish metallic treatment enhances other areas in the car as well, including the steering wheel that’s also leather-wrapped and filled with high-quality, well damped, tight fitting switchgear, this at least as good as the buttons, knobs and switches on the centre stack that include a nicely sorted dual-zone auto HVAC interface in GT trim. I almost forgot to mention my favourite steering wheel appendages, a set of paddles for swapping gears. The Sport GT comes standard with a six-speed manual, as do the base GX and mid-range GL, but the GT is the only trim to get paddle-shifters when upgrading to the six-speed automatic. I’ll go into more detail about these and how the entire car drives in my upcoming road test review, the GT also on the receiving end of a more potent 2.5-litre direct-injection, DOHC, 16-valve four-cylinder making 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque instead of 155 and 150 respectively for the base 2.0-litre four.
2017 Mazda3 Sport GT
The autobox gets paddles on the steering wheel, Sport mode can be selected via the metal rocker switch, and infotainment is controlled with this knurled metal rotating dial. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
All Mazda3s ride on a fully independent MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension with stabilizer bars at each end, while new for 2017 G-Vectoring Control (GVC) optimizes handling by momentarily retarding engine output when vehicle weight transfers from front to back upon turning the wheels, which shifts weight back towards the front wheels for added traction. This is similar to how racing drivers “load” the front wheels by subtly tapping the brakes before a corner, giving them a cornering advantage, but this automated system goes about its processes completely unnoticed. Along with all the features mentioned so far, the $26,820 Sport GT includes standard 18-inch alloys on 215/45 all-seasons, auto on/off and auto-leveling headlights, power-adjustable heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, bright finish window trim, pushbutton ignition, a tilt and telescopic heatable leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift knob, rain-sensing wipers, an intermittent rear wiper, heatable front seats, a wide-angle rearview camera, Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio, a six-speaker stereo, HD radio, AHA and Stitcher internet radio, two USB ports and an aux jack, SMS text message reading and reply, illuminated vanity mirrors, an overhead console with a sunglasses holder, a powered moonroof, a rear armrest with cupholders, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, tire pressure monitoring, hill launch assist, Smart City Brake Support sub-20-km/h autonomous emergency braking, advanced blindspot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, all the usual active and passive safety equipment, and more.
2017 Mazda3 Sport GT
Again, love the two-tone leather. Will fill you in on comfort and support in an upcoming review. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The aforementioned leather upholstery, metallic interior trim, and head-up display comes as part of a $2,900 Premium package that also adds proximity-sensing keyless access, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a six-way powered driver’s seat with manual lumbar, auto high beams, dynamic cruise control, voice-activated navigation, nine-speaker Bose surround audio, and a slew of active safety features including forward collision warning with high-speed autonomous emergency braking, and lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, these features making the Mazda3 one of only a handful of compact models to achieve a best-possible Top Safety Pick Plus rating. On top of this my tester is upgraded further with a $1,350 Technology package that boasts adaptive cornering headlights, satellite radio, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, traffic sign recognition, active air shutters to reduce drag and help safe fuel, and Mazda’s i-ELOOP regenerative braking system that first harnesses kinetic energy when slowing or braking and then repurposes into the electrical system for yet more energy savings.
2017 Mazda3 Sport GT
Is it roomy or comfortable enough? Stay tuned… (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
So equipped the Mazda3 GT achieves a claimed 8.7 L/100km city and 6.6 highway, which is considerably better than the regular GT automatic that’s rated at 9.0 and 6.7 respectively—the GT manual gets an estimated 9.6 city and 7.0 highway. Those that prioritize fuel economy over performance can opt for a more basic Mazda3, which gets an 8.4 L/100km city and 6.4 highway rating for the auto or 8.6 and 6.4 with the manual. I’ll go into more detail about Mazda’s advanced Skyactiv engine and transmission technology in my review, these being critical components of the company’s core ethos of simultaneously maximizing performance while minimizing fuel consumption and emissions, a philosophy that driving enthusiasts can easily get behind…
Since arriving on the subcompact crossover scene halfway through 2015, Mazda’s CX-3 has been a class favourite. It’s good looking, sporty, fairly upscale, nicely equipped and plenty practical, all…

2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD

2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD
The subcompact 2017 Mazda CX-3 looks best in top-line GT trim, which is how we’re testing it this week. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Since arriving on the subcompact crossover scene halfway through 2015, Mazda’s CX-3 has been a class favourite. It’s good looking, sporty, fairly upscale, nicely equipped and plenty practical, all good reasons for its rise in popularity. Still, I can’t help but wonder if the folks at Mazda Canada’s Richmond Hill headquarters are starting to look over their shoulders at new competition now that Toyota’s equally sporty CH-R has shown up, just like Honda is hoping its HR-V’s lead doesn’t get consumed by the new Nissan Qashqai, a mini-Roque that looks like it’ll put up a good fight in this once fringe segment. In total, the subcompact SUV category has 11 entrants, including the bestselling HR-V with 12,371 sales last year, runner up CX-3 with 9,354 deliveries, third-place Chevrolet Trax with 9,072, Mitsubishi RVR with 6,196, Buick Encore with 5,533, Nissan Juke with 4,442, Jeep Renegade with 3,962, Fiat 500X with 766, and Mini Countryman with 694. I can’t decide if the Mini and Buick should be counted in the subcompact luxury SUV segment because they’re priced higher, but in reality they’re somewhere in the middle. Neither has much effect on the CX-3, however, so it’s a moot point.
2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD
The CX-3 has sporty styling that it lives up to when behind the wheel. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The new CH-R is relevant, however, having sold 690 units in its first month of May. This won’t cause too much concern at Honda where the HR-V found 1,687 new buyers, and I suppose the CX-3’s 1,089 May deliveries were strong too, in fact that was the model’s best monthly sales results ever, but it’s just the beginning for the Toyota subcompact and this initial jump out of the gate (a time in a vehicle’s lifecycle when availability is compromised and therefore real sales may have been better) is better than two of the CX-3’s poorer months this year, and stronger than many others it’s competing against, like the Trax that only found 464 buyers, plus the Juke and Renegade that attracted just 270 apiece. Even Fiat’s 500X did better than these two thanks to a best-ever tally of 305 sales, while I believe we’ll see a lot more than May’s 191 units from the new Qashqai. Other than mention of the upcoming Ford EcoSport (due to arrive later this year) and just announced Hyundai Kona (a Kia version can’t be too far away), that’s the state of the subcompact SUV segment, and the CX-3 remains near the very top for all the reasons just stated as well as Canada’s adoration of its independent Japanese parent.
2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD
The CX-3 provides a more upscale environment than most rivals in GT trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
I won’t go into U.S. numbers, but suffice to say they’re not pretty with respect to anything Mazda sells, save the MX-5 “Miata”. Their number one seller in this class is the Renegade, a model far down the pecking order here. With all due respect, every one of the above noted SUVs is worthy of your attention and would likely provide an enjoyable ownership experience, some of my favourites being lower on the popularity poll, but in the case of the CX-3 I can wholly agree with its success. I’ve read others knock its styling on social media, but I love every inch of the little Mazda sport ute, especially in as-tested top-line GT trim. Moving up from the $20,695 base GX model or $22,695 mid-range GS to the $28,995 GT allows for more sophisticated looking and much brighter LED headlights with stylish signature detailing, plus the world’s tiniest LED fog lamps inserted within the upgraded metallic bezels of its sporty front fascia, not to mention stunning twinned V-spoke 18-inch gunmetal-finish alloys around each side. Move inside and its well laid out cabin gets leather and Lux Suede upholstery, plus loads of exclusive features.
2017 Mazda CX-3 GT AWD
That’s leather in a mainstream-branded subcompact SUV. Mazda does it right! (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
I’ll go on in more detail in my upcoming review, plus relate how the CX-3’s sole Skyactiv-G 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder responds to aggressive input, its 146 horsepower and identical 146 lb-ft of torque plenty for an SUV that weighs just 1,339 kilos. This said Mazda joins many other manufacturers in unforgivably making their normally standard six-speed manual transmission unavailable in the CX-3’s sportiest trim, but at least the six-speed automatic has manual mode with an engaging set of steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and best of all it’s not a CVT. If you want AWD you’ll need to accept the autobox anyway, so therefore the CX-3 GT drives all four wheels, which aids traction and doesn’t detract much from efficiencies thanks to a five-cycle rating of 8.8 L/100km in the city and 7.5 on the highway compared to 8.2 city and 6.9 highway in the manual-equipped front-drive model. I don’t think I’m going to worry too much about fuel economy this week, because the CX-3 GT is way too much fun to let such concerns ruin the moment. Come back soon and check out my road test review to get all the details…