Mazda must be dabbling in black magic.
How else can you explain the fact that this relatively small Japanese company is doing what no one else in the car industry seems to have figured out? They’re building cars that get amazing gas mileage and are exhilarating to drive at the same time.
Doing one or the other is easy. If you cram a giant engine into a little car, you’ll get people’s hearts racing. And on the flip side, you can put a puny engine into a tin-can car and get good gas mileage.
But what Mazda has done with this car, the all-new Mazda3, is remarkable.
First of all, it’s rated for 41 mpg on the highway. To put that in perspective, it’s the exact same mileage figure as the first-generation Toyota Prius hybrid, which set the standard for hyper-efficient cars when it was introduced.
Unlike many fuel-saving cars, though, the Mazda3 doesn’t feel like a dinky, hamster-powered contraption. It feels quick and nimble, matching the breathtakingly fun feeling that I loved in the previous generation 3.
I’m not quite sure how Mazda managed to do that. Mazda’s Department of Marketing Mumbo Jumbo came up with the term “SKYACTIV” to describe how the engine, transmission, body and chassis work together to boost performance and gas mileage, but black magic still makes more sense to me.
Whatever the root cause, this is one of my favorite small cars to drive in a long time. And it’s for reasons that go much deeper than gas mileage.
From the driver’s seat, this new design feels like one of the fastest, most fun compact cars you can buy. It doesn’t drive at all like a car that’s designed for good gas mileage, strangely enough.
I love the new look Mazda gives this car for 2014. It gets a long, sports-car-like hood, swept-back headlights and a sleek, expensive-looking overall shape. I think it looks like a smaller, sportier version of the pricey Lexus RX 350 that I tested last week.
Inside, this is one of the best cabins I’ve ever seen in a compact car. It has soft materials on the dash, tight construction, and — at least in my test car — all the bells and whistles you could possibly imagine being in a commuter vehicle: automatic headlights, a heads-up display, lane departure warning, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, blind-spot sensors, a navigation system and lots more.
On the downside, all those extras added a lot to the price of my test car. It rang up over $29,000, which — to me, at least — seems like an awful lot of money for a Mazda compact car. The base version of this car, starting under $17,000, makes more sense for most people.
As a whole, though, this is one of the most impressive small cars I’ve driven in years. Even at the end of its lifespan, the previous generation Mazda3 was one of my favorites, and this new version raises the bar even higher.
It’s kept the lovable, fun-to-drive spirit of the Mazda3 while adding better gas mileage for today’s world. If Mazda had to stick pins into Honda and Toyota voodoo dolls to do that, so be it.
Mazda must be dabbling in black magic.
Author inks book deal from 26-year-old draft
After 26 years tucked away in a drawer, one might think the story had grown stale, that it had sat in the dark too long to be revived into something palatable.
Anyone know whodunit?
Forget Col. Mustard, the library and the candlestick, this time it was the drama student in the Jesse F. Niven Center with the bottle of poison.
At this year’s Uwharrie Players Drama Camp, campers took the stage not just to act, but to figure out who poisoned Gladdis, the talent scout.
Kudzu Quiche A Bonus in Study of Invasive Species
High School students who chose to study invasive species during their week at the National Environmental Summit at Catawba College probably didn't think they'd be baking a kudzu quiche. But they did, and they served it, along with other kudzu creations, at the final festival.
Wheel of Clay
Rome wasn’t built in a day and a potter wasn’t made in one either, Seagrove potter Sid Luck, 69, said at his pottery class at the Niven’s Center Tuesday.
About two years ago, Archie Smith got into an argument with his table saw.
As he says, the table saw won.
Jammin' at Junior's
Benjamin Franklin once wrote: “ … in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” If Franklin was alive today in western Stanly County, he would need to amend his statement to include “and Friday night jam sessions at Junior Harris’.”
Kellie Pickler set to release album with limited edition vinyl pressing
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Black River Entertainment announced the release of a limited edition vinyl version of country music singer/songwriter Kellie Pickler’s critically-acclaimed current album, The Woman I Am. This is the first vinyl album for Kellie Pickler, and it features exclusive cover art, different from the CD version.
Fairy Tales Can Come True
Once upon a time in Stanfield a little girl was born, but experienced problems during her delivery. Five years earlier, a little boy was born in Georgia with similar complications. Both suffered a brain bleed during child birth and had ventricular shunts placed in their heads.
Social networks are the new matchmakers
WASHINGTON - With studies showing that one-third of married couples started their relationships online, finding romance via URLs is no longer as novel - and creepy - as it seemed when dating sites launched in the mid-1990s.
Dive into the World’s Most Diverse Marine Ecosystem when Journey to the South Pacific Arrives at Discovery Place on June 7
CHARLOTTE – Audiences will be taken on an epic IMAX® adventure through the tropical islands of West Papua and experience one of the most extraordinary places on Earth, when the IMAX film Journey to the South Pacific comes to Discovery Place on June 7.
- More Features Headlines
- Author inks book deal from 26-year-old draft