It's easy to see why this little car is so loveable. It rides and drives like something more expensive. It's rock-solid on the highway and taut in the twisties. With Mazda's SKYACTIV engine technology, even the larger 2.5-liter, 184-horsepower four-banger delivers mileage of 28 city/39 highway with the automatic. (Fortunately, Mazda plans to offer a six-speed manual for this drivetrain in 2015.) The interior fit, finish and materials give off a distinct whiff of Audi. And we're more than giddy that the old "smiley-face" grille has been banished to the junk heap.
Things we could do without include the two-tone almond-and-black leather interior, the rather thin driver's seat bottom and the stick-on dash control screen. But that may just be splitting hairs. We'd still take an s Grand Touring five-door in "Soul Red Metallic" with the all-black leather interior, please. Or, we'll wait for the Mazdaspeed version that's said to be on the drawing board as this is written. Mazda, how about an introduction date?
BY THE NUMBERS (s Grand Touring)
0-60: 7.4 secs (Motor Trend)
Curb weight: 3,002 lbs
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