The Japanese car with the German soul
Finally, the GX rests on 16-inch steel wheels shod in all-season tires that are “just wide enough” (205/55R16). With its stiff suspension, large wheels would mean Spartan comfort for the occupants. Not to mention a hike in prices when shopping for winter tires.
The GX version is exclusive to Canada. Canadians are in fact quite taken with compact cars. That doesn’t stop this Mazda3 from sharing its 4-cylinder, 2.0-litre, multivalve engine with the GS, a 148-hp, high-revving mill that features great acceleration and throttle response.
It drives the front wheels by way of the aforementioned manual transmission or an optional automatic transmission. The latter is a five-speed affair with a manual mode, and it tacks on $1,200 to the sales price.
Note that the Mazda3 doesn’t benefit from the traction control system offered as an option with the GS. Seasoned drivers that have perfected their technique during a driving course won’t be bothered. Some will even welcome it. But everyone else will have to learn to massage the throttle with humility on slippery surfaces…
Black on the inside
The interior of the Mazda3 is reminiscent of small BMWs in a very particular way: it’s decked out in wall-to-wall black. Like a 128i or a 335i, only the orange backlit instruments brighten up the austere cabin – and only at night.
The claustrophobic will prefer the Mazda3 GS, which can at least be enlivened with beige cloth seats if you choose a red or pearl white body.
It must be said that the interior of a Mazda3 isn’t very big. The well-contoured bucket seats are fitted and the rather low seat cushion isn’t adjustable, except for the driver. Thankfully, drivers enjoy a tilt telescopic steering wheel that allows them to refine the driving position.
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