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The 2020 Mazda3 Offers a Quieter Ride at a Big Cost

As Mazda moves in to capture the hearts of luxury car drivers, you may wonder how it is making the transition from the former fast, fun, and sporty persona. It may seem a reach for a compact car, but the recently crowned World Car Design of the Year appears to be doing just fine so far. It’s holding up quite well to its rivals in both luxury and reliability. However, that doesn’t mean that everything is roses. Consumer Reports, while listing the Mazda3 in its list of quietest cars, but they revealed that the new elegant ride and quiet interior come at a cost.

Mazda sacrificed fuel efficiency for noise reduction. But, saddest of all, the 2020 Mazda3 has lost some of its mojo – its iconic zoom-zoom.

The pros

First, let’s just say that there are a lot. U.S. News ranks the 2020 Mazda3 as No. 2 among compact cars and No. 3 in both hatchbacks. This latest iteration of the model adds a quiet ride to the appeal to its upscale interior. Instead of loud and intrusive vibrations while the car is waiting at stop signs, drivers can enjoy a much more serene ambiance.

In 2020, the Mazda3 now comes with i-Activsense driver-assist features standard, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking. Car and Driver reports that these safety features, now standard on the Mazda3, bring it in line with its closest competitors, the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, at only a nominal price increase over last year’s models.

The cons

A general view of the Mazda3 is seen onstage during the L.A. Auto Show
The Mazda3 | Victor Decolongon/Getty Images for Mazda Motor Co.

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MotorTrend gave a backhanded compliment to the Mazda3 for an upscale interior, quiet cabin and handsome styling, and even compared it to European counterparts like Audi, all while throwing out words like “premium-ish styling” and “a lot of black plastic.” The chief complaints were a rough ride, cramped passenger space, and a price that is high for the segment. In a final coup de grace, the clumsy handling is blamed on the change in powertrain and the removal of the independent rear suspension, “killing any semblance of emotion or fun” to drive.

In solidarity, even though Consumer Reports rates it a recommended buy, their test drive found that the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission made for a disappointing combination. Although the engine is quieter, it’s much less efficient. It achieved only 30 mpg overall, dropping it from the list of notable vehicles for fuel-efficiency in its class.

However, in direct opposition to the U.S. News review, Consumer Reports found the infotainment system was as disheartening as the handling, stating a steep learning curve and a lot of turns of the rotary dial and taps on the screen to complete even simple tasks.

The Mazda3’s bottom line

There seems to be a sharp divide between Mazda3 supporters and the other guys. While there are many pros, the cons seem to be intense and indignant, almost resentful that their fun toy was tampered with.

Overall, the Mazda3 is a solid choice if you are looking for something a little more grown-up to drive. It may have some stiff competition in its class, but you can still imagine the zoom-zoom of the Mazda3 even though you can’t hear it anymore.