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February 5, 2020

Why the 2020 Mazda3 Deserves Its Title as Women's World Car of the Year

If you happen to ask me what my favorite car brands are, Mazda would definitely be part of the list. With its impeccably clean lines, it’s not difficult to fall in love with it. Add to that their refusal to compromise on the driving experience, and you can bet that Mazda’s “Jinba-ittai” or “horse and rider” as one philosophy will make your everyday commute feel special.

This brings me to one of their latest offerings: the all-new Mazda3. It’s my first experience with a Mazda sedan, since my spattering of other drives before were all hatchbacks or SUVs. Interestingly enough, this was awarded as the 2019 Women’s World Car of the Year as well as the Women’s World Family Car of the Year. Besides the pretty face, does the Mazda3 actually deserve that win? The answer is a resounding yes, and the reason boils down to mixing excellent style with everyday usability.

Personally, front visibility hasn’t been a Mazda strong point. At my height and frame, I’ve always had difficulty in estimating my distance past the hood. In this new-generation Mazda3 though, designers seemed to have fixed that flaw. Not only is the windshield wider and the hood now more sloped, but the driver’s seat itself gives a wider range of adjustment allowing me to feel much more in control than before.

Visibility aside, I also enjoy how the new dashboard’s laid out. That new center monitor molds around better (it looks less tacked on), but I can imagine that because of that catch-basin shape, it’ll eventually become a magnet for dust, and what-not. Some people criticize Mazda’s decision to remove the touchscreen functionality, but given the way it’s angled and stuff, it’s almost impossible for anyone to comfortably reach out for it without fumbling anyway. Controlling the functions are done via buttons and knobs on the center console. I found it awkward at first, but once I got the hang of it, I actually found it more accurate than any touchscreen-based system.

The biggest highlight though is how this large screen is fully-utilized as the monitor for its 360-degree camera. Now, a lot of cars out there already has their own version of parking sensors or cameras, but the Mazda3 deserves a round of applause for its accuracy and simplicity of use. Not only is the display so crisp and detailed, but there’s no lag too. And unlike other systems, the camera shows a “safe zone” line even in the curb-side view. Following this, it gives you a buffer of about 30 centimeters from the curb—reducing the changes of snagging those mag wheels.

Often overlooked, I have praises too for the Mazda3’s air conditioning vents. One of the nuances that I encounter is having the fan blow directly into my face, instead of my body; and no matter what adjust I make, it never seems to hit me right. The decision to mount the vents lower doesn’t just add to the Mazda3’s minimalist look, but it helps blow cool air to the body first. At the same time, I love how the passenger vents are separate from the driver’s side vents allowing for more flexibility.

On to the drive, I’ve nothing much to say about the Mazda3. As with any other Mazda, it’s a pleasure to take around and beyond the city. It may not exactly be the most powerful compact car on paper, but it responds smoothly and easily coaxed to accelerate. It also feels much more balanced and solid, even when pushed. More than once, I had to glance at the heads-up display just to make sure I was still under the speed limit.

All in all, I firmly believe that the all-new Mazda3 has reasons to win the title of Woman’s Car of the Year. Again, this is not to say it’s the perfect car. However, I believe that the reason why the win is well-deserved is because Mazda actually put thought and work into substantially improving on what they’ve already created. There’s no doubt that it looks like a piece of art, but beyond that it infuses real-life practicality making it less intimidating, and more approachable.

Words and Photos by Gen Tiu.

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