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2024 Mazda3 Sport GT Review: In Stick We Trust

2024 Mazda3 GT | Photo: D.Heyman
  • EPA Category: Compact Car
  • Price: 24950 $ - 38900 $
  • Consumption: 8,4 - 8,4 L/100km
  • Warranty: 3 years / 100000 km

strong / weak points

  • Excellent chassis dynamics
  • Looks have aged well
  • New tech added for 2024

  • Tame infotainment graphics
  • No manual transmission with AWD or turbo engine
  • Back seat space almost nonexistent
Results78 %
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Dan Heyman
Even with few changes, the Mazda3 hatch is still a winner.

•    Auto123 reviews the 2024 Mazda3 Sport GT.

If there’s one manufacturer driving enthusiasts have to thank for keeping affordable driving joy alive, it has to be Mazda. There are others, of course, but all things being equal when it comes to pricing, equipment, styling, dynamics – you know, all the things drivers love to talk about – Mazda ticks the boxes with their 3 compact, and has done so for almost two decades now. Two decades is a long time, but man does this littlest of Mazda passengers cars age well.

2024 Mazda3 – What’s new?

There isn’t a huge amount of new in the Mazda3 this year, but there have been some changes. Chief among them is the addition of the Suna addition of the vehicle, which is available only with AWD and adds Zircon Sand Metallic paint that debuted on the CX-50 crossover, 18-inch black wheels with matching door mirrors as well as some black-and-terracotta interior digs.

Other additions for our GT tester specifically include a wider 10.25-inch infotainment display that now functions as a touchscreen when operating Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Which, by the way, are now wireless and matched by a new wireless charger. There are also new USB-C ports for faster charging.

2024 Mazda3 GT, hood, front end
2024 Mazda3 GT, hood, front end | Photo: D.Heyman

Design of the 2024 Mazda3 Sport GT – 8.5/10

Our tester wasn’t equipped with the new Suna package, but the Mazda3 Sport hatch remains a very good-looking car with its slim headlamp lenses, long hooded, cab-rearward styling and 18-inch alloys that even when shod in chunky Michelin X-Ice winter rubber, look fine.

I would probably opt for something other than the Machine Grey Metallic finish, but most of the colours available for the 3 are shades of grey/black/white, leaving a single blue and a single red to choose from. Luckily, that last one is Soul Red Crystal Metallic and it looks as good as it sounds. It’s what I’d have.

The 2024 Mazda3 Sport, in Soul Red Crystal Metallic
The 2024 Mazda3 Sport, in Soul Red Crystal Metallic | Photo: D.Boshouwers
2024 Mazda3 GT, interior
2024 Mazda3 GT, interior | Photo: D.Heyman

Interior
As is Mazda’s way, the interior is much more about class than flash. This being near the top of the Mazda3 range means leather seats, widescreen infotainment display and plenty of soft-touch surfaces. There is some contrast-colour stitching, but otherwise this is very much a black-tie situation in terms of both the style, colour palette and substance.

Being a GT trim, there’s heated leather seating, dual-zone automatic climate control and heated steering wheel.

2024 Mazda3 GT, driver's seat
2024 Mazda3 GT, driver's seat | Photo: D.Heyman
2024 Mazda3 GT, rear seats
2024 Mazda3 GT, rear seats | Photo: D.Heyman

The driver’s seating position is on the money, plus the small-diameter steering wheel size is just right and doesn’t need a flat bottom to prevent it from jamming into your thighs. It also tilts and telescopes so drivers can more easily tailor the situation how they see fit.

The back seat is not quite so user-friendly, however. This is a compact car, of course, but the back seat is a squeeze, especially in terms of headroom. No matter how much I adjusted my posture, I just couldn’t contort my 6’3” frame to make it work. It’s not like being a compact car means you have to settle for an inhabitable back seat; the Honda Civic and Subaru Impreza are prime examples of compact rear seats done right.

Mazda may not have sorted the rear seat to the utmost, but rear storage (while not particularly long) is deep, meaning taller items can be stored. If you plan on hauling something longer, you can always drop the rear seats which get a 60/40 split.

2024 Mazda3 GT, multimedia screen
2024 Mazda3 GT, multimedia screen | Photo: D.Heyman

Technology in the 2024 Mazda3 Sport GT – 7.0/10

While it doesn’t look that different on first glance, there have been a number of technological additions to the 3 for 2024. The central display now measures 10.25 inches versus 8.8 inches previously and it’s mounted atop the dash, easily read with just a quick glance, USB-C ports have also been added as has wireless charging as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Speaking of those apps, not only is the display bigger, it also works as a touchscreen while driving when operating CarPlay or Android. It’s not the most responsive or exciting-looking affair (low-key is turning into a bit of a theme here), but it’s nice to have.

2024 Mazda3 GT, engine
2024 Mazda3 GT, engine | Photo: D.Heyman
2024 Mazda3 GT, gear shifter
2024 Mazda3 GT, gear shifter | Photo: D.Heyman

Powertrain of the 2024 Mazda3 Sport GT – 7.5/10

Power for our tester is via a naturally aspirated 2.5L 4-cylinder engine good for 191 hp and 186 lb-ft of torque, which is a generous amount for a car of this size. When you consider the same engine with the same specs is found in much larger Mazda products, you can imagine how zippy this 3 feels. Power is driven via a – huzzah! – 6-speed manual transmission to the front wheels.

An AWD option is also available, as is a turbocharged engine. The manual is only available with FWD and non-turbo power, however.

2024 Mazda3 GT, profile
2024 Mazda3 GT, profile | Photo: D.Heyman

Driving the 2024 Mazda3 Sport GT – 8,0/10

Even without the turbo, the Mazda3 Sport GT offers a fun drive. With the direct delivery of all that naturally aspirated power as well as the close-ratio six-speed box, aggressive starts from stop are rewarding. Forward progress is good, and the 3 is actually surprisingly vocal through its twin outlet exhaust. Add a perfectly weighted clutch and well-gaited shifter and the drive is an involving one.

As fun as that all is, this is not the most powerful 3, so the focus quicky shifts to the handling and steering, both of which are excellent. The front-end response from even the slightest bit of lock is immediate, with the rear following close behind as the 3 Sport goes about its business with minimal body roll and great grip.

Roll is reduced through good chassis and suspension tuning, but the 3 has an additional trick up its sleeve. G-Vectoring control automatically modulates the throttle and brakes as you push on to keep the body neutral enough, but with enough movement to help handling. As soon as you start to turn, a little brake is applied to get the body to shift forward just a little, putting more weight over the front wheels, providing more grip in the process.

The result has the 3 darting from apex to apex with gumption, and the attitude of a more expensive performance-oriented car. What a piece of chassis engineering this is. I could drive it for ages and it almost – almost – makes me forget about the lack of the Mazdaspeed3 performance model.

On the other hand, the Mazdaspeed didn’t have the ride that this one does. Even with all that agility, the 3 is properly habitable among the rutted, choppy, railroad track-covered roads of our cities. The Mazda3 might not be priced like an Audi A3 or BMW 2 Series, but no one’s told it that it can’t ride like one.

2024 Mazda3 GT, front
2024 Mazda3 GT, front | Photo: D.Heyman

2024 Mazda3 pricing in Canada

Here’s the pricing structure for the 2024 Mazda3 Sport in Canada, including the GT model we drove.

  • - Mazda3 GX 2024: $24,950 (FWD)
  • - Mazda3 GS 2024: $27,450 (FWD), $31,650 (AWD)
  • - Mazda3 GT 2024: $32,450 (FWD), $33,750 (AWD)
  • - Mazda3 Suna 2024: $38,900 (AWD)

Some of your questions about the 2024 Mazda3 Sport

Are there any other body styles?
The Mazda3 continues to be offered both a hatchback (the Sport seen here) and the sedan, which you can also get with AWD and turbo power.

How does the Mazda3 Sport compare to the CX-30?
The CX-30 subcompact crossover shares a powertrain with the Mazda3 Sport and most of its body panels as well, though the CX-30 gets more rear headroom and cargo space thanks to a slightly taller roof.

2024 Mazda3 GT, rear
2024 Mazda3 GT, rear | Photo: D.Heyman

The final word
Yes, the tech is getting a little long in the tooth even after the updates, the interior could be a little more lighthearted overall (maybe the interior and exterior designers could use a tete-a-tete) and that back seat? Fuggedaboudit.

Thanks to the exterior styling, though, the surprisingly punchy engine with its great manual transmission and that fantastic chassis construction more than make up for all that. There are compact hatches with more space out there, but few with as rewarding of a drive.

Competitors of the 2024 Mazda3 Sport GT

  • - Honda Civic
  • - Kia Forte5
  • - Subaru Impreza
  • - Toyota Corolla
2024 Mazda3 GT, rear light, badging
2024 Mazda3 GT, rear light, badging | Photo: D.Heyman
Dan Heyman
Dan Heyman
Automotive expert
  • Over 12 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 70 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 150 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists