This winter Michigan has seen colder temps and the highest snowfall we have seen in decades. It’s also been one of the saddest, with numerous care pile ups taking far too many lives. As I sat watching the news each night I could only shake my head. Then it happened. I had just dropped my daughter off at school and was making my way back home on a sheet of pure ice. I was traveling safely, at turtle speed. But if I was the turtle, the car coming at me was the hare. I watched in slow motion as the car missed the curve and plowed into my drivers door. Thankfully we were all okay and my car was towed home. It was about that moment that the 2014 Mazda 3S was dropped off for my scheduled review. I have to say, not only was it a bright spot in a bad day but this car surprised me right off the bat.
It’s a Compact
Relying on observation alone it would be hard to guess that this hatchback wasn’t a full size sedan. It’s long body and unique curves make it appear and feel larger than it is. While we only have one child, she tends to take up a lot of room in the back seat. From her booster seat to her school bag and everything in between it can be a little cramped. But it’s wasn’t a problem we faced in the 3S.
There was lots of room to spare as we traversed to and from school, dance and errands. The front part of the cabin offered plenty of room for mom and dad, and even all of our tech. It had this genius little charging station inside the arm rest where we could plug our devices in and store them neatly inside in the arm rest. As convenient as it was, I think what they really had in mind was one more way to keep the drivers eyes on the road…or at least that’s what all of the amazing safety features led me to believe.
Unbelievably Safety Centric
A convenient storage space for electronics is just one example of how the Mazda 3S is unbelievably safety centric. Lets begin with it’s heads up display.
In addition to speed, this display also provided turn by turn directions (along with distance count down) any time the navigation system was activated. Unlike many systems, I found that this display kept my eyes on the road 99.9% of the time – and when I did find myself looking down it was usually just out of habit.
In a further effort to keep your eyes on the road the 7in touchscreen display actually locks while driving. ‘Forcing’ you to use the commander switch. Personally, I quickly realized that I LOVE that switch far more than any touch screen.
It’s basic buttons for music, home, navigation, back and favorites were easy to memorize and use. Anything not covered by these buttons was easily toggled to by using the large knob/button system. Once this was memorized, I found myself skipping the touchscreen all together, even while parked.
Finally, in addition to auto-dims and auto-brights the Mazda 3S also has auto-leveling, adaptive headlights. So here is the problem most cars have: when you’re turning through curves there is a moment of time where you’re basically in the dark (or at least not as well lit as you would like). This has to do with the way headlights sit on your car. But with the Mazda’s adaptive feature you can literally see the headlights following the path of the car. Which means that you’re never left in the dark, even for a second. As someone who lives on a winding lake road I quickly fell in love with this feature. It’s just one more way Mazda is working to keep it’s drivers safe.
It’s “Only” A 4 Cylinder
In Michigan, not rain nor snow or even a polar vortex keeps people inside. So I spent much of the week driving on iced roads. It’s no ones idea of fun, but it’s necessary. Unfortunately, this meant I wasn’t able to put it’s 7 second 0-60 capability to the test, but I was able to discover some other things. Like it easily handles like a V6, especially in snowy conditions, sport road makes for a nice and tight driving experience – great for taking on the packed snow conditions and overall it has a very zippy driving experience. (zoom zoom, right?)
It’s no wonder the 2014 Mazda 3S Hatchback received awesome ratings and awards from Car and Driver, going even so far to rave “Mazda’s all-new hatchback prove that economical, fuel-efficient cars don’t have to be dull to look at or to drive” and personally, I couldn’t agree more.