2018 Mazda3 Sport GT: A Professional Driver’s Perspective

2018 Mazda3
2018 Mazda3 Sport GT: A Professional Driver’s Perspective
Find Oakville's Cheapest Gas

About the Author

R. G. Beltzner

R. G. Beltzner

A long time automobile enthusiast, and competitive race driver, Rainer Beltzner provides performance driving and racing instruction for Porsche, BMW, and Ferrari owners and clubs. He's been doing this for over 25 years. Often, Rainer is found driving/teaching on one of the Canadian Tire Motorsport, Shannonville or Watkins Glen tracks. During the “off-season”, Rainer spends his spare time driving and evaluating a broad range of vehicles. Follow Rainer on Twitter @redy2rol.

Latest posts (See all)


The Mazda3 has been around since 2004 and is now in its 3rd generation that started in 2014. The 2018 Mazda3 continues to be a very popular choice among the compact car category, especially with its extensive array of standard equipment, good comfort, practicality and reasonable pricing.

My test vehicle was the well equipped 2.5L Sport GT with the optional “premium package”, priced at $28,300. I opted to review the 6-speed manual rather than the 6-speed automatic – for that additional “fun” factor – and I was not disappointed.

Technical details

The 2018 Mazda3 is a front wheel drive compact car available in three trim levels with either a manual or automatic 6-speed transmission. The GX and GS models come with a 2.0L 155hp engine whereas the GT comes equipped with a 2.5L 184hp engine. The GT is roughly 60 kg heavier partially as a result of the larger 18” wheels and tires and larger front disc brakes.

All trim levels come with MacPherson Strut type coil spring and stabilizer bar front suspension and multi-link type coil spring and stabilizer bar rear suspension. Steering is rack-and-pinion with power assist to adjust for different speeds. Mazda has always been excellent at including many desirable safety and security features as standard equipment.

2018 Mazda3 sport GT standard features

  1. Wide angle rear view camera
  2. Stability and traction control systems
  3. Hill launch assist
  4. Brake support
  5. Blind spot monitoring
  6. Rear cross traffic alert

The optional premium package provides additional safety and security features such as:

  1. Lane departure warning and lane keeping systems
  2. Forward obstruction warning, and
  3. Distance recognition support

Driving and handling characteristics

The 2018 Mazda3 Sport GT is a reasonably well handling car that is simply lots of fun to drive. The 2.5L engine with manual 6-speed transmission makes for a real driver’s car – with adequate acceleration, smooth shifts and good gear ratios.


2018 Mazda3 Sport GT

2018 Mazda3 Sport GT; Photo Credit: Mazda Canada Inc.


Driver controls are well positioned which in combination with the leather 6-way power adjustable driver’s seat makes for a comfortable ride. Mazda3 cars come with “G-Vectoring Control” (GVC) that adjusts the engine torque to transfer weight to help with traction and overall stability. The front wheel drive and GVC helps with more aggressive cornering but under steer does show up at higher cornering speeds. Despite this, the car is nimble and a delightful drive on a twisty road. At higher speeds on the highway, I did find the interior a bit noisy but nicely overcome by cranking up the Bose 9-speaker audio system.

Comfort and Styling

The Sport GT with the premium package is nicely equipped and finished both inside and out. As one would expect, the seats are leather wrapped as is the steering wheel, all heated of course. The moonroof adds a nice touch as does the 7” colour touchscreen display with Mazda Connect.

2018 Mazda3 Sport GT

2018 Mazda3 Sport GT interior; Photo Credit: Mazda Canada Inc.

As mentioned, the premium package adds the Bose 9-speaker audio system with CD player and MP3 capability. Navigation system is voice activated. Despite this being a “compact car”, there is lots of room for the driver and front passenger, as well as being easy to enter and exit. The rear seats are great for younger kids and if you fold the seats down, cargo space increases from 575L to 1,334L – which is plenty big for most situations.

I drove this car over 600km along country roads and highways to city streets with their traffic conditions. The experience was very enjoyable.

Things to consider

The Mazda3 has been a favorite compact car for many years and it is easy to see why. In addition to good style, comfort and practicality, the car has been reliable and reasonably priced (Base MSRP: $25,100) when all of the standard features are considered. The biggest decision may be to choose from the manual or automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The car comes with Mazda’s 3-year new vehicle unlimited mileage warranty.

For more automotive reviews and insights, follow me on Twitter @redy2rol.


, ,

Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.