Fast Take: 2024 Mazda3 Sport GT

Explore the allure of the 2024 Mazda3 Sport GT in our in-depth review. Uncover its captivating design, superior driving dynamics, and remarkable build quality that defies its price tag. From its luxurious interior to its dynamic performance, discover why the Mazda3 remains an enduring symbol of automotive excellence.

HOME POPULAR Fast Take: 2024 Mazda3 Sport GT

Adam Allen Writer -

Words by: Adam Allen

Pretty much every single person we know has a story that involves a Mazda3. It’s highly likely that you’ve driven one, ridden in one, or at the very least encountered a plethora of them on  trips short and long and for good reason: they offer a compelling mix of handsome styling, sharp driving dynamics and build quality that punches way above their weight from a pricing standpoint. Your humble author fondly recalls his 2003 Sport equipped with a manual gearbox, painted in Winning Blue drawing many an admiring eye at grassroots car shows before cars and coffee was a thing. That car was a game changer and was a massive leap forward over the Protégé5, the model that preceded it. Heck, it was a big upgrade over the Honda Civics and Nissan Sentras of the day, easily settling in with its role as the best in its class. There has always been one unifying feature, a running theme if you will that covers all vintages and body styles since it came out back in 2003, and that it that the Mazda3 is downright exquisite when you look at all the little details inside and out. That’s a superlative you’d normally reserve for a Rolls Royce or Mercedes Benz Maybach, but take a closer look at the Mazda3 and you’ll find it hard to disagree.

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Start your perusal inside and you’ll be greeted by an interior whose luxury trimmings and attention to detail trump any of the 3’s competitors. You get the feeling that the folks who screwed this car together did so with care and passion. Panel gaps are minute, materials and textures are first rate and it’s all tied together by comfortable seats and impressive levels of refinement- that last bit is especially remarkable because Mazdas are not exactly known as having the quiet of a library while driving.  Illustrating how far they’ve come with taming uncouth noise levels, one of the leading car mags did a comparison test years ago pitting the Mazda3 against an Audi A4. While the A3 would have been a more ideal opponent, the A4 got the nod over the Mazda but not by much- editors noted that the delta between the two with respect to noise, vibration and harshness levels was commendably small. When you consider price tags, we think the Audi’s tenuous lead should get even smaller. Shout out to the excellent Bose sound system which plays your tunes with a level of clarity that is borderline shocking in this class of car if you find things too noisy while commuting.

The slick and sophisticated vibe best describes the exterior styling as well. Seeing the Mazda3 in pictures allows for a clear understand that it is a nice-looking car and that it represents an upscale evolution of the 3’s design language. Yet when you first see it in the metal, its aesthetics are more impactful and the word ‘sensual’ kept popping into our minds, even after several years on the market. The aforementioned Audi A3, which prides itself as a gateway drug for luxury car buyers within the Audi brand is as sensual as a coffee maker by comparison. That’s right folks- we used an adjective usually reserved for some of the world’s most beautiful cars to describe the looks of the humble Mazda3. It takes a while to process all the delicate tapers and flares of the body work, and we minutiae geeks adored the attention to detail like the 4 individual LED lighting elements used for the rear turn signals and the way they ‘warm up’ rather then simply just turn on and off.

Dynamically, the Mazda3 has never been afraid to dance the tarmac cha-cha when its driver is so inclined and the tradition continues. Our tester was not equipped with the available all-wheel drive, nor did it have the much more powerful turbocharged engine. It may have been slower and lacked outright grip, but this car is no snooze fest. It has that hard-to-quantify mix of firmness and precision the way it goes down the road, but it is still a comfortable and accomplished daily driver. Practical, too- fold those rear seats down and it’s ready for to haul the trappings purchased from any bog box store you patronize. The controls, namely the steering and brakes, operate with a delicate but astute accuracy which is more than enough to keep you engaged behind the wheel- might as well enjoy yourself while driving, right? If BMW made front-wheel drive hatchbacks during its Golden Era of the early Oughts, it would likely feel a lot like this.

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But even cars from BMW’s Golden Age are not without fault, and so to is our Mazda3 Sport GT. There’s nothing that is going to keep you up at night, tossing and turning while thoughts of regret run through your mind. There are the usual suspects that never fail to rankle us, specifically the poor visibility out back and the Heads Up Display that defaults to on every time you start it up. This time around, we noted a lane keep assist that is borderline scary in how the car will suddenly yank itself left to right if it perceives trouble even when sometimes there isn’t any. We’d like more feel from the controls, namely the steering and the clutch/shifter combo- everything feels numb and too light for our tastes. Finally, we wished for a lighter flywheel on the 2.5 litre four banger- building revs feels like a chore and you need to give it a hearty boot full if you’re going to execute a smooth heel and toe downshift.

For all our griping, we remain fans of the Mazda3. It packs a naturally aspirated engine mated to a manual gearbox fer crying out loud! We think that remains something that should be celebrated and that Mazda is doing its part to keep the hatchback flame alive.

2024 Mazda3 Sport GT - Specifications

  • Price as tested: $34,445
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger hatchback
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/front-wheel drive
  • Engine:  2.5-litre inline four, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower: 191 @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque (lb-ft.): 186 @ 4,000 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Curb weight: 1,400 kg (3,084 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel consumption: 8.9/100km (27 mpg)
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