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For years US buyers have stayed away from hatchbacks even though they are super practical and just as fun, if not more fun than their sedan counterparts. In the last year we’ve seen some significant new entries in the compact hatchback segment that may finally win over US buyers, like they have with our friends in Europe. This year the Honda Civic hatchback finally made a comeback and Chevy even introduced a Cruze hatchback. Although both new entries are welcome, they already have some heavy competition from the segment leader – the Mazda3 5-Door.

The Mazda3 is actually one of the oldest models now in the segment, but each year the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback continue to be the benchmarks for the segment. Here are five things that you should know about the 2017 Mazda3 5-Door:

1Fun to drive, like all Mazdas

Since its introduction in the early 2000s, the Mazda3 has always been the most fun to drive model in the segment and that continues today. The Mazda3 is nimble, zippy and loves being pushed hard. The fact that Mazda even offers a manual transmission in the top spec model speaks volumes about how much the automaker places “fun” as a priority, even though most buyers probably opt for the automatic. After driving a Grand Touring with the 184-hp 2.5L and six-speed automatic for a week, I enjoyed every minute behind the wheel of the Mazda3. From the responsive powertrain, near perfect steering, to the confidence-inspiring suspension.

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