Mazda’s latest entry in the compact sedan and hatchback segments, the Mazda3, is considered as one of the best in its class. With a fresh redesign last year, the 3 benefits from svelte styling and a noteworthy lineup of technology and safety features. But, it is not just about aesthetics and content. It also shows improved gas mileage and ideal ride quality that most drivers will appreciate.
NEW FOR THE 2015 MAZDA3
- A six-speed manual transmission is now available with the larger 2.5-liter powertrain.
- Save for the base Mazda3 sedan, all versions now come standard with Mazda Connect infotainment system.
UNDER THE HOOD
Mazda3 can be equipped either with a 2.0- or 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Both powertrains come with Skyactiv technology that helps increase their fuel efficiency and output, and work either with a six-speed manual or the optional six-speed automatic gearbox.
The base 155 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder powertrain is what drive’s the Mazda3’s i models. Although not too powerful, it receives high fuel efficiency ratings, with the sedan checking in at 29/41 mpg with manual transmission and 30/40 mpg with automatic transmission and the hatchback registering 29/40 mpg with manual transmission and 30/40 mpg with automatic transmission.
The bigger 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine fires up the Mazda3 s models. Rated at 184 horsepower and 185-lb ft of torque, it improves the vehicle’s sporty character but not at the expense of its fuel efficiency. Mileage for this engine is rated at 25/37 for the sedan with manual transmission, 29/40 mpg with the automatic transmission and 26/35 mpg for the hatchback with manual transmission and 27/37 mpg with automatic transmission.
3s models can be had with the optional i-ELOOP system, which aids in capturing and redistributing energy from braking. When used together with the 2.5-liter four, the Mazda3’s fuel economy ratings go up to 29/40 mpg for the sedan and 28/39 mpg for the hatchback.
ON THE ROAD
Regardless if a buyer opts for the 2.0-liter inline-four or the 2.5-liter engine, the Mazda3 drives enthusiastically and feels sportier than most of its rivals. To make things even better, it does not sacrifice fuel efficiency just to achieve good road performance. It works well into corners and the steering is precise. Partnered with the automatic transmission, shifting between gears is done with great ease, while the manual is equally satisfying to use.
Ride quality is generally refined and comfortable. However, some test drivers noted that the s models tend to be bumpy when driven on road irregularities due to the larger wheels and tires they use.
INSIDE THE 2015 MAZDA3
The new Mazda3 feels premium from the inside, which is evident from the upscale interior panels, upholstery and switches. The cockpit is driver-centric with the pedals, controls and all the other buttons logically placed in a manner that makes it easier for the driver to perform and focus on the basic tasks at hand.
All models, with an exemption for the base sedan, feature a dash-mounted 7-inch touchscreen display that looks and feels upscale. The good thing about this interface is that it can also be controlled by a knob-type dial, which makes it easy to use.
The front seats provide sufficient cushion and support. However, the svelte proportions of the Mazda3 somehow affect the space at the rear seat, as legroom is a bit tight and three average-size adults will find it uncomfortable inside. Competitors such as the Volkswagen Jetta and Toyota Corolla offer more interior space that allows for a more comfortable ride. Cargo capacity is at the low side as well, with the sedan having just 12.4 cubic feet of trunk space and the hatchback with 20.2 cubic feet.
The 2015 Mazda lineup is available in two major trims–the 3i and 3s–that are further divided into sub-trims. Features for each trim are found below.
3i SV: Available only in sedan body style, the 3i SV has 16-inch steel wheels, A/C, power accessories, trip computer, steering wheel with tilt/telescoping function, height-adjustable driver seat, folding back seat, trip computer, push-button start and four-speaker AM/FM/USB/aux audio system.
The remaining Mazda3 trims are available in both sedan and hatchback body styles.
3i Sport: On top of the equipment found in the 3i SV, the 3i Sport gains cruise control, seven-inch commend screen, six-speaker audio system with streaming services and HD radio, Bluetooth connectivity and 60/40 split folding rear seat.
3i Touring: This trim is equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, keyless ignition and entry, rear spoiler, heated side mirrors, center armrest for the rear seat, leather-clad steering wheel and blind-spot warning system. The Technology package can be availed for the 3i Touring trim, which includes a sunroof, navigation system, dual-zone automatic control, voice controls a nine-speaker Bose sound system.
3i Grand Touring: The list of equipment added to the 3i Touring is also standard to the 3i Grand Touring and from there it adds heated front seats, leather upholstery, six-way power driver seat with lumbar adjustment and an auto-dimming mirror.
3s Touring: This particular trim mirrors the equipment of the 3i Grand Touring. It further ups the ante by having 18-inch alloy wheels, a head-up display and paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel.
3s Grand Touring: The top trim level 3s Grand Touring gets to enjoy similar features as the 3s Touring trim, but includes in its list of equipment an auto-dimming rearview mirror, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, leather upholstery and automatic wipers. Exclusive to the s Grand Touring trim is a Technology package that contains Mazda’s i-ELOOP system, radar-based cruise control, Smart City Brake support and radar-based cruise control.
Photo credit: mazda.ca