Our review score: 8.5 / 10
The 2015 Mazda Mazda3 is one of the best vehicles in its class, easily surpassing the competition when it comes to performance, safety and design.
Precise handling, solid fuel economy, top safety ratings, neat interior design and lots of options – the Mazda3 has it all. Few compact cars can deliver so much value for such a relatively low price. The Mazda3’s only downside is the lack of space, which can unfortunately be a deal breaker for some. But, if you’re okay with that, then you will be in for quite a treat. Here’s why:
Deliciously Eye-Pleasing Design
The Mazda3 stands out visually thanks to its undeniably sporty proportions and all-around attractive cues.
You might recall (not too fondly) the smiley-face grille of its predecessor, which wasn’t all that great. Fortunately, that thing is long gone, and now we have the new five-point grille, with its corners neatly connecting to the vehicle’s swept-back headlights. The sense of sportiness is especially pronounced in the placement of the Mazda3’s cabin, which sits much further to the back than before. This means that the hood now appears longer, while the windshield pillars are located further to the back. Combine all that with gentle curves and you get something truly eye-pleasing.
The vehicle is available in two body types: sedan and hatchback. The latter version unfortunately sacrifices a bit of cargo capacity in favour of a more fastback roof and rounded-off hatch, which is something its predecessors haven’t done. The sedan benefits a little more from the design, but its cargo area is not nearly as spacious or flexible as the one on the hatchback.
Inside, the Mazda3 is undeniably sporty too, delivering a driver-focused cabin – with pedals and controls placed around the driver’s centreline. And thanks to a clear panel that comes up from behind the instrument cluster, the driver gets information like speed and directions without having to look away from the road, which is neat.
Under the hood, the Mazda3 can sport one out of two possible engines – either a 2.0-litre four-cylinder that can produce 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque or a 2.5-litre four-cylinder with 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. However, no matter which one you decide to settle for, you will get a satisfying performance and better responsiveness than in most of its competitors. Transmission choices include a six-speed automatic and a six-speed manual, both of which are equally viable options.
The 2.0-litre engine offers a little less power, but it provides better fuel economy in exchange – which is 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres on the highway (with the automatic transmission). You may hear it strain a bit under hard acceleration, but that shouldn’t be a huge issue.
Still, if you can spend extra cash on the large 2.5-litre engine, which happens to be smoother and quieter, then we recommend doing so! The fuel economy with this engine and an automatic transmission installed is 8.4 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres on the highway. These numbers are admittedly higher than on the other engine, but they are still very decent.
Top Safety Pick+ Status
On top of everything, the new Mazda3 also delivers a very impressive assortment of standard safety features that almost seem too good to be true – especially on such an affordable vehicle. Available features include a rearview camera, lane departure warning system, smart city brake support, forward obstruction warning and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. Not bad, right?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has named the Mazda3 its Top Safety Pick+, awarding it with top “good” scores in every category. The organization has also awarded the version that has the available crash-prevention feature with an “advanced” front crash protection rating, which is very impressive.
How Does It Compare to the Hyundai Elantra?
Many have compared the Mazda3 to the Hyundai Elantra since they are in the same segment, but there a few notable differences. The Elantra is noticeably bigger than the Mazda3, especially at the back. So, if interior space is a priority, then we recommend the Elantra – because its rear seats can actually fit people. However, if you are looking for a fun driving experience and good fuel economy, then the Mazda3 is your car since the Elantra is far more fuel-hungry despite being slower.
For a more detailed comparison, check out this page.
The Mazda3 is a bargain in every respect. Few vehicles will offer you so many perks for such a low price. So, if you need a solid hatchback or sedan that doesn’t cost too much, then this vehicle should be at the top of your list.