Benefiting from an additional seven horsepower, the 2013 Mazda3 was still in its second generation and pretty much business as usual for the Japanese company. Most of the changes from the previous year were in the form of refinements and interior upgrades, and you could get Mazda’s new thrifty SkyActiv drivetrain for the first time.
Fortunately, it was still a pleasure to drive. Mazda tweaked the inside of the car and, with automobile interiors getting increasingly complex throughout the industry, the ergonomics were sensible, easy to deal with, and more mainstream than before.
The engine size remained the same. It still displaced 2.0 litres and developed 155 horsepower. Fuel economy was also pretty good, verging on exemplary: the GS version, for example, delivered 7.1 litres per 100 km in town and 4.8 litres per 100 km on the highway when equipped with the six-speed automatic. This transmission was new for ’13 and replaced a five-speed. A six-speed manual was standard issue with the GS and GX models, and the GT got a larger 2.5-litre engine. One note here; this engine has a timing chain as opposed to a belt, which makes a difference over the long haul.
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Mazda also stiffened up the body structure for this model, offering better NVH (Noise, Vibration, and Harshness) suppression than the Civic, for example. Suspension duties were handled by the usual arrangement of struts up front and a multi-link set-up with coil springs in back. The GS came with 16-inch wheels and tires and, compared to some of the competition – Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Versa – had a firm, stable ride.
Standard equipment level was reasonably high, and you could get things like air conditioning, power windows, central locking, keyless entry, tilt/telescoping steering and cruise control. Other equipment included four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, and dual front, side, and side curtain airbags. Options included a “Comfort Package,” which featured a power sunroof, traction control system and a vehicle stability control system.
One safety recall is on file with Transport Canada. According to TC, “the lift gate support struts may corrode, possibly causing the struts to break and/or the lift gate to drop unexpectedly.”
To this, we can add a bunch of technical service bulletins from NHTSA. These ranged from electrical glitches in the power control module, issues with the TomTom nav system to various engine “squeaks.”
A thumbs up here from Consumer Reports. With a “Good Bet” designation, the 2013 Mazda3 got top marks in most categories. Again, there are apparently some “squeaks and rattles” in some models … probably those with the optional suspension package. Otherwise, it’s all sweetness and light. Some comments from owners:
- “road noise is high. That makes us turn up the audio too high”;
- “other than the grill, satisfied with the styling. Small back seat area”;
- “lots of car for the money. Best handling, performance and features in the class” and;
- “vehicle ‘smiles’ all the time … handling is quick and responsive to a level normally found in race cars. This ability allowed me to avoid a very possible serious/life threatening collision.”
A mixed bag from marketing researcher J.D. Power. While the Mazda3 SkyActiv has no glaring bad points, most areas merely receive “about average” or “better than most” marks. Fuel economy is the exception here: it got a top rating. Overall performance and design are, according to this organization, better than most, while predicted reliability is about average.
From a base price of just below $20,000 in 2013, the Mazda3 SkyActiv has kept up well. You won’t find a good one for less than $10,000 to $12,000, and low mileage models can be in the upper ‘teens neighbourhood. The hatchback versions are about $1000 more than the sedans.
2013 Mazda3 SkyActiv
Original Base Price: $19,995
Engine: 2.0 litres
Horsepower/Torque:155 hp / 148 ft. lb.
Transmission: Six-speed manual / automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 7.1 city/4.8 hwy. Regular gas
Alternatives: Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Kia Forte.
Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976. He was named Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
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