The 2017 Mazda 3 has a new face and interior layout this year, which improves its standing as one of the best-looking compact cars on the market. It's one of the most eye-catching and contemporary designs for its class, in fact. The hatchback gets a new tail for 2017, and its "cab-back" form evokes the proportions of a rear-wheel-drive car, according to our eyes.
We say the interior looks good and the exterior looks better than good—it's great. It earns a good 8 out of 10 on our style scale.
The visual changes are subtle up front, and most notable in the lower half of the front fascia. The assembly for the fog lights has been significantly revised with a smaller fog light and turn lamp unit accented by a chrome-colored fin that draws eyes into the wider, deeper grille. The nose has been pushed up a little higher, with the Mazda emblem more deeply set into the grille than before.
The windshield pillars are still pushed 4 inches further back from the hood, which helps the Mazda 3 achieve a more athletic profile than some other compact cars on the roads.
A shoulder line that sweeps along the body side ends in taillights with pointed ends. Hatchback models adopt a more fastback roofline, which culminates in a rounded-off hatch, sacrificing some cargo capacity compared to the outgoing model. Both the sedan and hatchback ended up a little too rounded in back, even though they're so distinctive-looking in front. Although the rear proportions seem to work better for the sedan than the hatch, we'd likely still choose the hatchback for its superior flexibility.
The hatchback's rear bumper is also slightly revised, with a little less cladding underneath near the tailpipes.
Inside, the steering wheel has been slightly updated and the manual handbrake has been replaced with an electronic lever. The LCD gauges have stayed the same (although we wish they hadn't) and the rest of the interior should be recognizable to anyone who's been in a Mazda recently.
Mazda has designed a new driver-focused cockpit for the latest 3, with pedals and manual controls arranged symmetrically around the driver's centerline. A head-up display is available and it uses a clear panel that pops up from behind the instrument cluster when the car is turned on to show speed, turn-by-turn directions, and other critical information.