The 2017 Mazda3 offers premium qualities at affordable prices. Brady Holt/The Current

While economy cars tend to be popular as simple, affordable transportation, Mazda has added further appeal to its entry in this class. The Mazda3, sold as a sedan or five-door hatchback, makes use of its compact size to provide sporty handling. It’s also infused with stylish bodywork, a premium interior and lots of available luxury features.

The result is a potential alternative to entry-level luxury cars. Buyers not wedded to the all-out luxury experience might do well to consider it.

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As an ordinary economy car, though, the Mazda3 doesn’t have the interior room of a Subaru Impreza or Honda Civic. Note that the latest Civic also can also offer surprising driving enjoyment and a premium feel.

The current Mazda3 dates to 2014, but 2017 brought an impressive new feature that subtly adjusts engine power to make the steering feel more responsive or to keep the car in a straight line.