The Mazda 3 is a premium car in a compact package. It’s an affordable car that offers a pleasant interior environment, sporty handling, and useful space. Completely redesigned for 2010, the Mazda3 carries over into the 2011 model year with no significant changes.
Mazda3 comes as a four-door sedan or four-door hatchback.
The 2011 Mazda3 adds rain-sensing wipers, auto on/off headlights, bi-xenon headlights with auto-leveling, Adaptive Front lighting System, and LED rear combination lights to the Technology Package.
The Mazda3 is practical, with useful small items storage up front, as well as plenty of room for the front passengers. The back seat will fit two adults fairly comfortably, provided the front occupants aren’t too tall. In both the sedan and hatchback, the rear seats fold 60/40 to create a mostly flat load floor. Flip the back seats down in the hatchback and you’ll have lots of cargo room. With its sportier character, better looks, and more useful interior space, the hatch is our choice between the two body styles.
The Mazda 3 features a first-class cabin loaded with convenience features. Higher line models get a Multi-Information Display below the windshield that houses readouts for the vehicle information center, climate system, radio presets, and even the available navigation system. A unique cluster of buttons on the steering wheel controls these functions. The readouts are easy to see and the steering wheel controls work intuitively. The other controls are mounted high on the dash’s center stack, and are also easy to see and use.
On the road, the Mazda 3 feels firm and composed, with moderate lean in turns. The steering is sharp and precise, and the brakes provide a linear pedal feel. The suspension deals well with most bumps, though large ruts can pound through with the available 17-inch wheels.
Two engines are offered. Mazda 3i models come with a 148-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder that achieves an EPA-estimated 25/33 mpg City/Highway. We found it provides adequate power for most needs. Mazda 3s models offer a sportier driving experience with the more powerful 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which delivers 167 horsepower and is available with a smooth-shifting 6-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automatic with manual shift capability.
The Mazda3 comes in four-door sedan and four-door hatchback body styles, two model ranges, and an array of trim levels. Mazda 3i models come with a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a choice of 5-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automatic with manual shift capability. Mazda 3s models come with a 167-hp, 2.5-liter four and a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic.
The Mazda 3i SV ($15,800) comes with cloth upholstery, power mirrors, power windows, reclining front bucket seats, tilt/telescoping steering column, 60/40 split folding rear seat, AM/FM/CD stereo with four speakers, auxiliary audio input jack, and P205/55R16 tires on steel wheels. It is offered only with a manual transmission. The Mazda 3i Sport ($16,705) adds air conditioning, an outside temperature display and an available automatic transmission ($17,555).
Mazda 3i Touring ($18,100) adds power door locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control, two additional speakers, a Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link, steering wheel audio and Bluetooth controls, traction control, electronic stability control, and alloy wheels. It’s available with the automatic ($18,950).
Mazda 3s Sport sedan ($19,545) and hatchback ($20,045) models get a special front fascia, sport seats, electroluminescent gauges, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, front center console, Mazda’s new Multi-Information Display, an iPod adapter, fog lights, rear lip spoiler, and P205/50R17 tires.
Mazda 3s Grand Touring sedan ($22,510) and hatchback ($23,010) add dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, leather upholstery, eight-way power driver’s seat with memory, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, LED taillights, and heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals.
The Mazdaspeed3 hatchback ($23,700) comes with a 263-hp turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-4, 6-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential, sport seats with special red and black cloth interior trim.
Options include the Moonroof & Bose Audio Package ($1395) which includes a 10-speaker, 242-watt Bose Centerpoint surround sound system with 6CD. The Technology package ($1,835) comes with navigation, a full-color version of the Multi-Information Display, Sirius satellite radio with a six-month subscription, keyless access and starting, rain-sensing wipers, auto on/off headlights, bi-xenon headlights with auto-leveling, Adaptive Front lighting System, LED rear combination lights, and perimeter alarm.
Safety features standard on all Mazda3 models include dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, active front head restraints, tire-pressure monitor, and anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. As mentioned above, traction control and electronic stability control are standard on the Mazda 3i Touring and all s models.