Compact Mazdas have roots in a series of models stretching back to the 1960s—they were known in the American market by names like GLC, 323 and Protegé. In 2004, an all-new model debuted with an all-new name: Mazda3. The surprisingly athletic economy car earned nearly universal praise for its fine road manners.
Following a 2010 redesign, the Mazda3 entered its second generation. Hailed by critics for affordability and sportiness, the sedan and hatchback models seat five—though rear seats aren't meant for brawny individuals. And with SkyActiv technology, it adds exceptional fuel economy to the mix: up to 40 mpg on the highway.
Major changes included: The second generation Mazda3 continues where the first generation left off and is offered in both hatchback and sedan body styles. The second-gen Mazda3 is wider, longer and lighter than the previous generation Mazda3. Two different engine combinations are available for each model: a 2.0L 4-cylinder and a larger, more powerful 2.5L 4-cylinder which replaces the previous model's smaller 2.3L engine. The 2.0L variant produces 148 horsepower, while the 2.5L produces a solid 167 horsepower. The souped-up MAZDASPEED3 offers the most performance, carrying a modified version of the turbocharged 2.3L carried over from the previous generation. It produces 263 horsepower and a whopping 280 lb-ft of torque.
Major changes included: In its first generation, the Mazda3, was offered in sedan or hatchback styles, with 5 trim levels offered in the sedan and 3 in the hatchback. All are powered by a 2.3 liter 4 cylinder engine, while the Mazdaspeed3 model offers a turbocharged version of the same engine. A 5-speed manual transmission comes standard.