Remember when the folks at Mazda decided to plaster a trademark smiley face grille on their Mazda3 sedan? Well the styling misstep was a move that was rather polarizing. Thankfully Mazda has moved on from the once clownish nose persona. The 2016 Mazda3 has an overall design that is definitely turning heads and putting grins on them.
Speaking of grilles, the Mazda3 has an imposing one, it also sports a rising beltline, graceful lines; it is truly an elegant, yet aerodynamic looking compact. Not only does the Mazda3 look good on the outside but its cabin is one of the most striking of its class with high quality touches throughout. It is pretty evident that there was quite a bit of attention paid to the compact’s innards—soft touch surfaces, neat stitching, nice metal surrounds. Seating in the Mazda3 is beautifully bolstered, lumbar supportive and long-trip comfy. Leg and headroom in the compact’s cabin is surprisingly accommodating for early six-footers and room in the rear is actually class competitive. The Mazda3’s dash is sports-inspired which is evident by the large tach that takes front and center. The optional 7-inch touchscreen infotainment display is clear and there’s even an intuitive knob controller on the center console. The touchscreen feature is disabled however, when the sedan is in motion. Kudos to Mazda for creating a Bluetooth pairing system that is not a hair-pulling experience. And now for those nitpickers. They might find the Mazda3’s trunk space to be a bit paltry, 12.4 cubes. There is also no lift gate button on the vehicle’s key FOB.
Available as a sedan or hatchback, the Mazda3 is offered as a model 3i (2.0-liter four-cylinder) or 3s (2.5-liter four-cylinder), and then these are broken down into various trims. The Mazda 3i has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that kicks out 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. The Mazda3s (test vehicle) model kicks up the power factor with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 184 horses and 185 lb-ft of torque. Driving the Mazda3s is just plain old fun. Its nod-worthy driving dynamics is clearly evident particularly when tackling tight corners. Responsive with a steady stream of “zoom-zoom,” the Mazda3s Grand Touring is a smooth performer with steering that is well-tuned and a suspension that is solid. The sedan has got character plus, engaging the driver from start to finish. As far as fuel economy, the Mazda3 comes in at 30 city/41 highway that shouldn’t put a hurting on pockets at the pumps.
The Mazda3 certainly delivers safety-wise–antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, a rearview camera, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. For those wanting even more safety features, the Technology package offers a lane departure warning system, forward collision warning and Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support, a forward collision mitigation system that can automatically brake the car to a stop at lower speeds, if the driver is slow to respond. Government crash testing for the Mazda3 resulted in stellar ratings– five out of five stars for overall crash protection.
The 2016 Mazda3 is a standout in a segment that is pretty overcrowded. Refinement coupled with top-notch engineering details, the Mazda3 is the kind of vehicle that will make you want to take the long way home.
Prices start at $17,845. Need more info? www.Mazdausa.com