Visually the Mazda3 5-Door is an absolute standout, especially in the Winning Blue Mica finish that my tester was coated in. Its design is so cool that it instantly left its

Especially compared its predecessor Protege5, the Mazda3 5-Door absolutely stands out from the crowd.

predecessor, the attractive Protege5, looking dated and uninspiring. When I picked up the keys, the Mazda rep said I would be driving the blue 5-Door s located somewhere in the vast array of Mazdas and other cars cluttering the parking lot. But like a beacon in the night the 3 stood out from the rest. I hit the keyfob’s unlock button and a flicker of the signal lights confirmed I was on the right trail.

A quick visual inspection of the exterior knocked my socks off. This is an entry-level sub-compact that exhibits quality levels commensurate with premium brands from far-off lands. Body panel spacing is among the

The Mazda3 is an entry-level sub-compact that exhibits quality levels commensurate with many premium brands.

tightest and most accurate I have seen regardless of price tag. The exaggerated front fenders and sharp creases defining its shapely body amplify the depth of its electric-blue finish. I was also quite smitten with the shapely C-pillars, which give the car a “bratty” appeal.

And the eye-candy didn’t end with the striking blue exterior. Sliding into the Mazda3 I was struck by how chic, firm and supportive the black cloth seats featuring blue weave insets are. My enthusiasm was quickly followed up by admiration for the attention to detail that Mazda has applied to the rest of the interior. Upper door panels are covered in a sheer fabric, the fine feel of which exceeds entry-car expectations. The car’s fit and finish is first rate.