Nov 06, 2013
Reviewed By Jim Pickering
Price as Tested $29,360: 184-hp 2.5 DOHC Skyactive 4-cyl engine, 6-speed auto with Sport mode, GT Technology Package with regenerative braking.
Likes

Cockpit-like interior with sporty dash arrangement, featuring Tachometer dead center in the cluster. Comfortable seats, easy visibility, standard blind-spot monitoring and rearview camera. Fantastic direct feel from electronic steering system. Generally quick out of the gate, but Sport mode wakes it up even more, with higher shift points and increased throttle sensitivity. Pandora-friendly stereo is seamless, and the control knob on the center console is smartly placed. Fantastic fuel mileage considering the fun factor.

Dislikes

Heads-up display is a motorized plastic lens that rises from the dash, and it won’t stay put due to bumps in the road or on less-than-smooth highway, so it’s more or less worthless — you find yourself either sitting up or crouching down to read it depending on the road surface. Lots of road noise inside on the highway. Active headlights (which turn corners based on steering wheel input) bounce around, which is distracting. 

Verdict

My daily driver Charger SRT8 makes a lot of power, but I wasn’t missing it in this Mazda, which is light, quick, and has a very driver-friendly direct feel in its steering, braking, and acceleration — especially in Sport mode. For the daily grind, this is all the car you should ever need: more than enough interior space, lots of helpful tech features (I really liked the blind spot monitors in the side mirrors and the stereo’s easy-to-use Pandora integration), and good economy, even when you’re having fun with it. The best part? $29k as delivered. That’s a deal.

Fun to Drive
4.0 rating
Fun to Look at
3.5 rating
Overall Experience
4.0 rating
Stats
Horsepower 184
Torque 185
EPA Mileage 28/38