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October 10, 2008

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Mazda. Since the early years of this decade, they have cosistently put out some of the best – and most underrated – cars in their respective classes. Superb handling, simple good looks and great price points have transformed them into something of a mainstream BMW. Or rather, a hybrid of sorts between Honda and BMW, drawing on the economical philosophy of the first and the sharp handling of the second.

I had the pleasure to drive a Protege5 for a time, and credit it as the car that won me around to the charms of small, agile hatchbacks.

The Protege’s successor, the Mazda 3, is an even better car, combining that same crisp handling with sharp looks. Even though it was introduced way back in 2004, it is still regarded by many as the best compact car on the market.¬†

Over the past few months, prototypes of the new 3 have been popping up here and there in various disguises, but earlier this week Mazda finally released the first official pics of the new model…which in my opinion builds nicely on the current 3 and should cement its position at the top of the compact class.

You can see more pics HERE. Overall, there’s a lot to like, but I’m still dying to see what the 5-door hatch is going to look like.

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