Making the universally adored Mazda MX-5 a more comfortable, refined, all-weather sports car didn’t mean it had to lose any of its notable performance prowess, it’s retractable fastback merely makes…

2017 Mazda MX-5 RF GT Road Test

The current Mazda MX-5, which was originally named Miata in North America and still goes by the moniker in the U.S., is the fourth evolution of the Japanese company's sports car. My test car for an August week was the RF version, or retractable fastback, in reality a folding hardtop that takes 13 seconds to raise or lower. Top up or down, it looked clean and dynamic, more visually aggressive than previous models. It should age well. Trunk space was almost the same as the soft-top version, with my duffel bag, computer case, and test instrumentation all managing to fit.

My big decision was where to go with the vehicle. Vancouver traffic didn't seem like a good idea, so, top down I headed towards the twists and turns of the Fraser Canyon. Next to a motorcycle, a convertible provides the most complete driving experience, to my mind much more fun than being sealed in an air-conditioned box.

The Mazda's 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque don't sound like much, but the car Read Full Story
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…