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In an enthusiast’s world, we can’t always drive the sports car of our dreams – sacrifices have to be made for practically and a comfortable day-to-day lifestyle. However, in Mazda’s world, they say, why can’t we have it both ways? Who says a practical car can’t have the confident driving mannerisms of an expensive saloon with the satisfaction of a comfortable atmosphere one would see from the Germans – adding a fifth door on the back, however, that only boosts it’s practically levels.

2017 is adding a breath of fresh air to the Mazda 3’s latest design language. To start, Mazda is making things a little easier on the consumer by reworking their trim levels, no longer including “I” and “s” models – they’re keeping it much simpler with Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. Other changes across the line-up includes some front and rear cosmetic updates, interior enhancements, and something called G-Vectoring Control (cause, like, normal people know what that does.)

Carried over, the Mazda 3 continues to offer two naturally aspirated engines, both paired with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic at a $1050 upcharge. In our case, our top trimmed Grand Touring comes standard with the more powerful 2.5-liter SKYACTIV four-cylinder developing a confident 184-horsepower. As much as we prefer the silkiness of the Mazda’s manual transmission and hearty third pedal, our tester sprung for the extra thousand dollar transmission – considering we ended up dealing with some of the country’s worst traffic in Los Angeles, this was something we were happy to be paired with. Mazda calls this set up, SKYACTIV – no one really knows how it works or what it does, but what we can tell you, even with more powerful engine, that after 1000 miles on during our test, we managed 35 miles to gallon.

Despite only taking 7.5 seconds to sixty miles per hour, the Mazda 3 doesn’t quite live up to the Zoom Zoom infrastructure Mazda advertises. It structural integrity however indicates rigidness and a well planted chassis, and in return articulates a confident nimble feel that no other compact really contains. The steering has a light balance with accurate precision that maneuvers with the only kind of responsiveness that comes from a bird changing direction. The ride quality is sublime with the chassis and suspension having a cohesive reaction to the roads mannerisms making it an ideal road tripper and long drive companion.

And then there’s the G-Vectoring Control. This is not something someone will ever really know, understand or really experience, but the fact that it’s there is a very special thing. Understanding the process requires a mechanical engineering degree and a good attention span – which we don’t have. However, under extreme driving conditions or slipper roads, this G-Vectoring Control helps mediate torque location and can control how the car responds – this way, in a situation that may require extra steering coordination to control a vehicle, the G-Vectoring Control takes over, so you don’t have to.

Starting at $24,945, our top trimmed Grand Touring featured a host of well-equipped equipment: leather trimmed seats, 7-inch touch screen display with a rotary control dial, power adjustable heated seats, sunroof, blind spot monitoring and a heads up display. Included on our sampler, a $1600 Premium Equipment Package added adaptive LED headlights and new LED fog lights, navigation, and a heated steering wheel along with $1100 i-Activ Safety Package installing adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with assist, and forward collision alert with active braking.

At the forefront, the Mazda 3 has always been a handsome little car. The slightly upgraded exterior with newly fitted 18-inch wheels, and LED light system front and rear make it a looker at night. While normally we prefer the color white however, this $200 optional Snowflake paint was a snooze as it didn’t suit our hatch much justice. Seeing that the our black interior on the other hand was much more attractive, the leather seats have been updated with a more premium design pattern, the infotainment system is now sleeker with the rest of Mazda’s design culture and the center console has been trimmed down for a much more clean appearance.

There is always something special to love about driving a hatchback – not only can tall things fit in the trunk, but tall people can fit in the back. Sure it added $1250 for the 5th door over the standard four-door sedan, yet, you can’t compete with this kind of practicality. And that’s not always a bad thing.

Vehicle Specifications:
2017 Mazda 3 5-Door: $24,945
As Tested (including Options & Destination): $28,980
Performance Specs:
2.5-Liter SKYACTIV Four-Cylinder – 184-Horsepower, Six-Speed Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±7.5 seconds
EPA MPG: 26/35/30 (City/Highway/Combined) – SSB Average:  35 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±400 Miles