The more I drove the all-new Mazda3, the more I came to the conclusion that Mazda’s new compact sedan should be seen as an alternative to the Acura ILX, the defunct Buick Verano and perhaps an Audi A3 rather than just a Corolla or Civic competitor. The new 3 handles impeccably, but the real win here is the cabin where we find materials that are simply more premium than any other mainstream competitor and a style that is elegant and refined, something lacking in the latest Japanese competition. By adding AWD to their compact sedan, Mazda didn’t make a Subaru Impreza alternative, instead they created a discount luxury sedan. How was this transformation possible? Part of it is likely connected to the new base price which is significantly higher than the competition, allowing Mazda to use more premium materials for the core of the interior.