2015 Mazda Mazda3 Reviews and Ratings

Sedan 4D s GT I4

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2015 Mazda Mazda3
NADAguides Test Drive Review

We live in an age where vehicle performance and affordability are not exclusive to one another. The mildly updated 2015 Mazda3 is a perfect example of this era we live in.

Performance, Technical Specs and Pricing

  • 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, SKYACTIV-G engine
  • 6-speed manual transmission (tested, however automatic is available)
  • 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque
  • 26 mpg city and 35 mpg highway (29 mpg combined)
  • Mazda3s Grand Touring MSRP: $26,340 (includes $795 destination fee)
  • Tested Price: $28,385 after destination

The fast lines and athletic stance of the Mazda3 convey this compact is a driver’s car. After spending significant time helming the top-spec’d Mazda3s Grand Touring model, it can be said it drives just as sporty as it looks.

In addition to the features found on the lessor equipped Touring trim, the Grand Touring model features auto on/off bi-xenon adaptive headlights, LED combination taillights, LED daytime running lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink®, and perforated leather-trimmed seats.

The “sporty appearance backed by performance” theme continues inside the vehicle. A beefy leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob have a substantial hand to them, while the front seats feature aggressive side bolstering nearing those found in a $90,000 Jaguar XJ recently tested.

Probably the coolest “wow” feature that comes standard on all Mazda3 trim levels is the Active Driving Display. According to Mazda, “This clear pop-up panel is vertically mounted behind the meter hood to deliver vehicle speed, navigational directions and other related driving information safely within the driver’s line of sight.” If you’ve seen heads-up display in pricier brands, then you understand how cool this feature is from a safety perspective.

While a Technology package can be ticked on the optional equipment configurator, our tester did not come equipped with the safety-focused suite. Equipment like blind spot monitoring and crash avoidance are just some of the package features. The tester did, however, come with an optional cargo mat ($70), rear bumper guard ($100), door sill trim plates ($135), and Appearance Package ($1,790), which includes a front air dam, door mirror caps, rear hatch spoiler, rear bumper guard and side sill extensions.

The MAZDA CONNECT infotainment system is a much-needed improvement over the previous system the manufacturer used to offer. An intuitive, 7-inch touch screen sits atop the center stack, with a jog wheel located on the center console capable of controlling the system. Bluetooth streaming is further enhanced by a full suite of apps, not limited to favorites such as Aha, Pandora and Stitcher.

The Mazda3 is in a competitive segment. Sparring with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Hyundai Elantra GT—just to name a few—might make you wonder what makes this auto different. The answer? Handling.

If you’re a driver—you know, the kind of person who goes out for a jaunt when you want to relax—then this is the car to consider. A light clutch and gear stick endear themselves to everyday livability, while the car’s adeptness at negotiating uneven S-turns handedly build confidence. A compliant, yet just stiff enough, rear multi-link suspension assists with soaking up bumps and accelerating past encroaching big rigs. It does it all with not two, but five doors and 20.2-cubic feet of cargo area (47.1 cubic feet with the rear seats down).

For good reason, it’s no secret the newer Mazda vehicles are a favorite by many automotive journalists across the U.S. The compact is an enthusiastic drive and possible to obtain on a scribe’s budget. Are there other six-speeds you can obtain for around the same price point with the comparable content? Sure. But none of them are both this fun and practical to drive.


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