I ended up with a turbo 3 in my driveway last year because I wanted a nice, smaller car. The closest competition to the 3 is the upper-trim midsize sedans, as they offer similar levels of luxury and performance to the 3, while not being as aggressive as the sport compacts are. A fancy Accord was the runner-up to the 3 in my search, because I didn't need the extra rear legroom and trunk space that the Accord offered enough to spend the extra $5,000.
The infotainment works a lot better if you live in CarPlay or Android Auto. When your phone is connected, the voice control button on the steering wheel maps to your phone's voice assistant. No need to fight the scroll wheel when you can just use Google voice search, or your phone to punch in a destination. The shortcut buttons make it easy to hop in and out of nav and audio, though I still wish there was a touchscreen for panning around the map.
The two big pain points are that the seats took a year to break in, and the combination of AWD and the turbo murders the range. I can go 200 miles in the city, and 300 miles on the highway before I have to stop for gas.
I think I'll end up keeping the 3 for a while, because I'd have to spend a lot more money to get something truly better.
Taste is subjective, of course, but I strongly disagree about the hatchback. I think that chonky C-pillar on the 5-door gives it quite an aggressive and attractive identity. I'm sure it's hell to see out the back but the electronic aids probably mitigate problems changing lanes or reversing.
I'm very happy to see Mazda continue to make, you know, actual cars.
The hatchback is always maligned in articles but it’s the more practical of the two. But yes, I get it, enthusiasts aren’t practical. Enthusiasts choke on practicality like somebody just mixed ipEcac in their martini. Duck the projectile olive. Mazda does make a good rig. Probably best in it’s class. And you get a good amount of tech features included compared to other makes. I always say better to buy a top line cheap car than a base model stripper expensive car. But there I go being practical.