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Ace of Base: 2017 Mazda3 4-Door Sport

2017 Mazda3

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

When we started this nonsense Ace of Base series all the way back at the beginning of August, our very first contendah was the 2016 Mazda3 i Sport. Since then, the boffins in Hiroshima Prefecture put their heads together and applied their considerable skill in updating their compact sedan. Can a slathering of new styling and a further refined driving experience keep the 3 in the hunt for base-model supremacy? Is G-Vectoring Control simply a marketing gimmick only found on top trims? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Let’s start with what hasn’t changed. The all-caps and spellcheck-defying SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter engine is present and accounted for in the base model, cranking out 155 horsepower by way of sixteen valves and dual overhead cams. A great shifting six speed stick remains standard, as does niceties such as push button start, keyless entry, and a steering wheel which adjusts for reach and rake.

Inside, even the basement models deploy an iPad-esque seven-inch full color display set proudly on top of the dash, serving up infotainment and communication controls. My sole gripe is the lack of SiriusXM radio. Bluetooth and a couple of handy USBs should satisfy all but the most ardent of gadgetphiles. There’s is a backup camera at this price point — an excellent inclusion as the 3 may well serve as a ZOMG FIRST CAR for many new drivers. Junior has no excuse for backing into a lightpole during a late night run to White Castle.

Mazda charges an extra $300 each for three of the eight available hues on the 3, allegedly due to the unique Takuminuri paint process consisting of color, reflective, and clear coats. Fancy. The natty Deep Crystal Blue Mica remains $0, along with a new-for-2017 shade of Eternal Blue Mica. These colors work well with the newly sharped exterior at an agreeable MSRP of $17,845.

Mazda will tell you it pursues ideal Jinba Ittai, which means “horse and rider as one,� helping to explain why just about every Mazda drives better than its competitors. To that end, Mazda has been building cars based on a human-centered design philosophy that prioritizes people. Equine comparisons aside, G-Vectoring Control was invented to deliver on this edict, adjusting engine torque in response to steering wheel action in an effort to optimize the vertical load on each wheel, enhancing the vehicle’s responsiveness and stability. This was space-race stuff not too long ago, so for it to appear on a base model sedan with a sticker well south of $20,000 is nothing short of remarkable.

But no one listens to us. Folks are all too busy buying crossovers.

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, BB? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer may sell for less, so do your research and bargain hard.

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