After a minor refresh last year, the Mazda3 returns for 2013 unchanged; and especially from the outside, it remains one of the more expressive vehicle designs in its compact-car class.
The 2013 Mazda3 remains offered as a five-door hatchback or a four-door sedan; we think the hatchback is the better-looking and more expressive of the two designs; while the sedan isn't frumpy, it's not a standout in the way the five-door is.
The Mazda3's expressive sheetmetal really strikes a good balance between elegant and racy--and that holds true whether in sedan or hatchback form. Last year the front end got resculpted into more of a relaxed smirk, easing the almost sinister grin; a resculpted front airdam and fascia also transitioned more smoothly into the flared front fenders. A new rear fascia and a couple of new wheel designs kept it fresh all around. Overall, what it means to most shoppers is that the look is cleaner, and you'll notice more body-color trim, with the dark-molded plastic now history.
Fuel-saving SkyActiv models are distinguished only by a small badge on the right side of the hatch (or trunk), a blue engine cover, and blue instrument lighting (instead of the base cars' gray lighting).
Both body styles have essentially the same interior styling. At best it's has a sporty cockpit flair, and you can see that it's been influenced by Mazda's MX-5 Miata roadster. At worst, it's somewhat drab, and the collection of hard surfaces and inconsistently grained, scratch-prone plastics altogether don't hold up to close scrutiny. But along with last year's refresh Mazda improved some of the detailing--for instance the same hue now applies to both interior screens (one for the trip computer (or nav system), the other for the climate control.