While many used compact car buyers instinctively turn to the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, the Mazda3 is also a good option to consider. It doesn't reach the popularity level of the now-defunct Protegé, but its overall quality has improved quite a bit over the years.
While the current generation launched in 2019 has elevated the design and refinement above any competitor, the previous generation (2014-2018) remains attractive for several reasons. If you're looking into purchasing a used Mazda 3 within this model year range, here's basically what you need to know about it...
First of all, this Mazda3 can be summarized in two words: Kodo and SKYACTIV. The Japanese compact car received a true cosmetic and mechanical transformation in 2014, with a dynamic new design language as well as a comprehensive set of technologies to optimize powertrain and chassis performance.
Whether you prefer the four-door sedan or the hatchback variant called the Mazda3 Sport, two four-cylinder engines accompanied the old Mazda3, a 2.0-liter producing 155 horsepower and a 2.5-liter producing 184 horsepower. Both the fun manual transmission and the efficient automatic transmission had six gears. If fuel economy is very important to you, however, you might want to consider one of the Mazda3's rivals with a continuously variable transmission (although the Nissan Sentra's has experienced some serious reliability issues...).
Performance enthusiasts were disappointed by the absence of a Mazdaspeed3 version with this generation. If you're keen to own one, you'll have to look to the previous one (2010-2013), whose 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder produced 263 horsepower. But beware of the torque steer effect under acceleration; it's still a front-wheel drive platform. Also, used examples on the market may have been driven spiritedly.
Mazda made a few changes for the 2017 model year, including a new grille, a different steering wheel, and some changes to the options packages, including adding more safety systems. However, the engines have not changed.
What else is wrong with the Mazda3? Well, there's the mediocre soundproofing, the stiff ride on rough roads, and limited rear-seat clearance. Other compact cars also have larger trunks. The excessive rust and transmission problems that plagued the first generation have fortunately been resolved with this one.
Finally, you should know that recalls have been issued for the windshield wipers, the fuel tank, the parking brake, and the regenerative braking system. Make sure all the necessary fixes have been conducted before you buy.
In any case, the old Mazda3 is a very pleasant car to drive and still has a very modern style. It will give you a great time on the road!