The new Mazda3 wowed us when we got behind the wheel for the first time last year. Today, just one year further along, the 2020 Mazda 3 is still a delightful, premium offering in the compact segment. We happened to spend a week in the 2020 Mazda3 Premium Hatchback with a manual transmission, the most engaging and luxurious variant available. Mazda is sticking to its guns of only offering the manual transmission on the top-of-the-line Premium trim this year, and the only notable change is a $100 price increase. The manual also remains available only with front-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is optional but must be paired with the six-speed automatic. We’re expecting to see the magical Skyactiv-X engine show up on our shores eventually, but for now, the 2020 Mazda3 continues on with the 2.5-liter Skyactiv-G four-cylinder. It makes 186 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. The manual transmission is a six-speed unit and contributes to a fuel economy rating of 29 mpg combined. Honda is challenging the Mazda3 manual in the new model year with its premium Civic Hatchback Sport Touring model that is newly available with three pedals. This Mazda3 is still rather expensive in this class, though, with our tester coming in at $30,665 after a few options were tacked on. That equipment is as follows: Soul Red paint ($595), navigation ($450), illuminated door sill plates ($425), auto-dimming mirror ($275), wireless charging pad ($275), rear bumper guard ($125) and a rear cargo mat ($100). Associate Editor Joel Stocksdale: I love this car so much. I love the design. I love the materials. But most of all, I love the way this car steers and handles. Every fraction of a degree of steering input yields exactly as much change to the eager nose. The steering wheel gives you a high-definition picture of what's happening between the tires and the pavement. The chassis feels neutral and has plenty of grip. Even its simple torsion-beam rear suspension stays planted over slightly bumpy corners. There's hardly any body roll. This car constantly begs you to take it corner carving, and even on short errands I found myself zipping up and down on-ramps and off-ramps that were out of my way, just because it was fun. With a turbo engine (hint-freaking-hint, Mazda), it could be a killer hot hatch. Assistant Editor Zac Palmer: This car might just be the perfect daily driver for someone with a reasonable budget and no large hauling needs. When I first saw the new Mazda3, the sedan felt like the one to get. Now that both the sedan and hatchback have been out for a year, I’m squarely on the side of the hatch. Paint it in Soul Red like our tester, and I'm completely sold. It shimmers and shines like no other red paint, highlighting the curvy body panels and slick design. I like the dark-painted wheels, but I wonder how a traditional, silver wheel would work here instead. Walking out to it in the parking …
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|MPG||26 City / 35 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||186 @ 6000 rpm|
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