By on November 30, 2016

2017 Mazda 3 5-Door - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

2017 Mazda 3 5-Door Grand Touring

2.5-liter I4, DOHC, direct injection (184 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm; 185 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm)

Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive

25 city / 33 highway / 28 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

9.6 city / 7.0 highway / 8.4 combined (NRCAN Rating, L/100km)

Base Price (GT): $24,730 (U.S.) / $26,795 (Canada)

As Tested: $27,730 (U.S.) / $29,995 (Canada)

Prices include $835 destination fee in the United States and $1,795 for freight, PDE, and A/C tax in Canada.

American consumers acquire more than 200,000 new compact cars every month. Only 4 percent of those cars are Mazda 3s.

Compact car buyers are far more likely to drive away from a new car dealer in a Corolla, Civic, Sentra, Elantra, or Cruze; more likely to choose a Focus, Jetta, or Forte, too.

While U.S. sales of compact cars are down 4 percent this year, Mazda 3 volume is down 11 percent.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the more popular compacts. The 2017 Mazda 3 is better than those cars. And this particular 2017 Mazda 3, a hatchback in top Grand Touring trim with the 2.5-liter engine upgrade and — oh my goodness, a manual transmission — is better than other Mazda 3s.

But you remain unconvinced.

I think I know why.

Oh, there’s plenty that appeals to the enthusiast driver, but there are issues with the Mazda 3 that creep up across most of Mazda’s lineup.

2017 Mazda 3 hatchback GT - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

CRAZY TO LOVE YOU
First, the Dunlop SP Sport 5000 tires loudly hum an unmelodious tune, not just at high speeds, but at every speed. It’s difficult to know how much blame is owed to the Mazda and how deserving the Dunlops are of denunciation. Reviews of these Dunlops on TireRack.com largely excoriate the tires, but the Mazda 3 — revised for 2017 with added sound insulation and tighter body gaps, says Mazda — was never known as the Lexus LS of compact cars to begin with.

It’s not just the tires. Last Sunday, slushy roads threw up such an undercarriage racket that conversation with my wife, mere inches away, was truly difficult. Slush is noisy, but why must the Mazda act as an amplifier?

Mazda’s head-up display is a hilarious afterthought perched on a piece of plastic that rises and falls above the instrument cluster.

At the lofty price point of this heavily optioned top-trim car, it’s disappointing to see such a lack of adjustability from the seats. There’s no lumbar support to speak of.

With the outside temperature hovering just above freezing, far milder than some mornings we’re soon to experience, the cabin took an eternity to heat up.

2017 Mazda 3 Grand Touring interior - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

Fuel economy in mostly urban driving is hovering right around 26 miles per gallon, in line with EPA ratings, but well below the 30 mpg rating of the 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport.

You’ve complained about Mazda’s dealer network and the brand’s reputation for rust.

And my, but isn’t she a pricey number. At $27,730 as tested (admittedly luxuriously equipped), the Mazda 3 is $1,315 more expensive than a basic Volkswagen Golf GTI. Pricing for a 5-door 2017 Mazda 3 with the 2.5-liter and a manual shifter starts at $23,530, a $3,600 premium over the basic 2.0-liter 5-Door. The new-for-2017 Honda Civic Hatchback in 180-horsepower Sport trim is a $22,135 car.

DID I EVER LOVE YOU
Too loud. Not as supportive as you’d like. Slow to warm up. Not terribly efficient. Quick to ask for money.

Come to think of it, that sounds an awful lot like your 19-year-old son who wanted to stay home after Thanksgiving instead of returning to university.

But you love him despite his faults and foibles. Indeed, of all the 19-year-olds the world has to offer, he’s your favorite, the one you’d choose.

DANCE ME TO THE END OF LOVE
Exhibit some tolerance of those faults — the Mazda’s, not your child’s — and you’ll be rewarded. Mazda bequeathed the 3 a very lively and precise steering rack. Though presumably aided by G-Vectoring Control in 2017, it’ll be hard to tell — Mazda precisely designed the software to be imperceptible. But there’s no denying that so little effort is matched by such swift changes of direction.

Not that the Mazda 3 would ever be flustered by harsh inputs. Always, the response to cornering is to remain poised, prepared for the next turn, anxious even. Yet the Mazda’s enthusiasm for carrying speed through corners isn’t matched by a reduction in ride quality. On these 18-inch alloys, the Mazda 3 rides distinctly more serenely than the 19-inch-shod Mazda 6 we tested recently.

Compared with the calm and cool Mazda 3, the Mazda 6 — undeniably a joy to drive to quickly — feels like it’s trying to be sporty. All of this athleticism comes more naturally to the Mazda 3.

2017 Mazda 3 interior detail - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

LOVE ITSELF
Plus, the 184-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder is linked here to a six-speed manual transmission. Mazda does manual shifters like Lotus does handling, like Toyota does just-in-time production, like Pagani does carbon fiber. If Mazda is ever forced into doing just one thing, please let it be manual transmissions.

The 3’s throws are short, the gates are clearly defined, gears are engaged with clarity, and the authority you have to make the most of the 2.5-liter allows the engine — often underwhelming in other applications — to feel like a genuine 184-horsepower powerplant. It’s not a fast car, but the 2.5 makes the Mazda 3 quick enough to be cross-shopped with a Golf GTI if you’re willing to sacrifice some low-down urge.

In more practical terms, rear seat space is decent, though white leather won’t be the answer to a slushy winter with kids. There are 20.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity in the hatch; 12.4 in the sedan. Mazda’s infotainment unit, if a bit slow and limited in scope, is easy to operate thanks to Audi-like console-mounted controls. A sedan could save you $750, the six-speed automatic transmission will add $1,050.

AIN’T NO CURE FOR LOVE
Sure, in many areas, the Mazda 3 is an imperfect companion. But it’s not as though all of the other compacts on the market are supremely quiet cars with comfortable seats, instantaneous cabin heat, EPA-matching economy, and 1990s price tags. No automaker gets it all right.

But in an age of self-driving where self still means you, rather than the car, the 2017 Mazda 3 is remarkably adept at making the driving part of life thoroughly enjoyable.

Given that its rivals are also imperfect vehicles, I’ll choose the compact car that’s best to drive and accept its faults and foibles, none of which reduce my affection for the Mazda.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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153 Comments on “2017 Mazda 3 5-Door Grand Touring Review – It’s The One To Have, Not The One You’ll Buy...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    Sadly, with safe and predictable competitors like Corolla, Civic and Cruze out there, “Zoom-Zoom” doesn’t get much play. Most folks buying at this level/class are looking more for “A to B” type cars, and having a row each morning in commuter traffic just doesn’t appeal to them. But I’m grateful to Mazda for continuing to offer such enthusiast oriented vehicles, even if they don’t tend to sell a ton of them.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Sounds like it has not changed over the years. Still tinny, insubstantial and loud. No thanks!

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Exactly, Mazda3 nice to look at. Not to nice to be in for a long period of time. Road noise is a big issue with the Mazda 3 and 6. BMW like? I don’t think so when the vehicle has such poorly engineered insulation for noise.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      My Mazda3 was loud only until I fitted it with Pirelli P4 tires. After that it became amazing. Every day I thank God that I bought Mazda3 and not Civic.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I was going to say. This sounds like my old Protege5, less some seat comfort and plus some safety, refinement and doodads. I would buy that car again if I could find an example that wasn’t well into the process of returning to the earth.

      I really liked my Protege5, and I could stand everything short of the gearing that had it doing 4000rpm at highway speeds.

      • 0 avatar
        xtoyota

        agree….MP5 was a great little car

      • 0 avatar
        devonair

        Ahhh, I often regret trading in my old Protege5 for a yawn-inducing Civic. After about two-years of tolerating the Honda, I eagerly dumped it for a much more entertaining Mazda3. Sure, I wish it had a bit more power and better noise-reduction, but am reminded why I enjoy Mazdas so much every time I end up on a twisty road.

    • 0 avatar
      andyinatl

      But see, this can all be said about the Civic… I’m not sure of the latest iteration, but all the ones prior were faulted with same issues…. And yet they keep selling like hotcakes. Perhaps Mazda is misreading its target market – people more interested in reliability and a-b transportation…

    • 0 avatar
      Giltibo

      Mazdas are awesome new, but fall apart quite fast… and they cost an arm and a leg to maintain compared to the competition (except maybe VW), Nothing is simple in a Mazda! DIYer for maintenance? Good luck!

      My wife drives a 2012 Mazda5. I drive an ’08 Accord Coupe with 2 1/2 times the mileage. Put both cars on a lift and you’ll see that the almost 9-year old car looks much better underneath than the 4-year old.

      Mazda? Never again for me!

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        What DIY jobs are particularly difficult in a Mazda? I’ve never heard of or encountered such a thing.

        I actually find the engine bays in modern Mazdas to have an unusually generous amount of room to work; not that the many Mazdas among my friends have needed much beyond basic maintenance.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        What you’ve said about lifting cars is correct – I know this.

        But everything else you said is bulloni, BS. Speaking specifically of Mazda3, it is not falling apart. In fact, I have 2010 with 90K+ and there is nothing wrong with it, and never was. So, My 98 Protege also didn’t look good in 3-4 years under the car. But in 16+ years and 195K miles I have not changed any suspension part, only 2 of 4 pieces of exhaust. They are rusty parts but they don’t “fall apart”.

        The parts for Mazda cost more – this is true. This is because they don’t make them in massive numbers as parts for Honda or Toyota. But it is negligible. A brake pad set that costs $15 more will not kill you if you like to enjoy driving. You don’t need to change it every month or even year. And then reliability. Honda will set you back there more than Mazda. Buy any source, Mazda as brand is more reliable than Honda as of last 2-3 years.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    My 2008 Mazdaspeed3 was perfect. It also held an incredible amount of cargo. Its still unclear to me why people would get anything else (ok they don’t make them anymore unfortunately).

    I used Zipcar A LOT for my last job driving to client meets. The rest of the compacts drive comically poor.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      The problem is the rest of the compacts don’t drive “comically poor.”

      While not as good as the Mazda3, the Golf and Focus drive well. While also not being incredibly loud and tinny. And without incredibly firm suspension. And without odd option packaging (at least use to in the case of the Golf, they have really trimmed it down in the past year). And with much better visibility (the current Mazda3 hatch’s visibility is comically poor).

      And the cars with poorer dynamics have either incredible reputations for reliability or are better values, important in the compact segment.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “While not as good as the Mazda3, the Golf and Focus drive well.”

        And the Focus has aged remarkably well. Now, if not for that damn transmission…

        And as far as the rest of the compacts driving “comically poor”…well, I don’t think you’ve driven them lately. I can think of one that falls in the “comically poor” category (I’m looking at you, Toyota), but there are several that any enthusiast on a budget would find to be quite satisfying to drive.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          Agreed, FreedMike & whynot. And while I haven’t driven the current generation, the first-gen Cruze has a “drives bigger than it is in a good way” quality that a lot of people like.

        • 0 avatar
          sutherland555

          FreedMike: Focus is a very good car let down by terrible transmission. When I was looking for a car 3 years ago, that was the deal breaker for me.

          Featherston: I had a first gen Cruze as a rental and not my cup of tea but i’ll be damned if it wasn’t a quiet and smooth ride. I can see why people like it.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          “That damned transmission” is easily avoided. Get a Focus with a stick. The lack of rear seat room and ugly interior would be bigger issues for me.

          Though for me, it would be the Golf first, last and always, as the Mazda3 has never impressed me at all. I’ve owned too many VWs to believe the Internet spew about them.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            ““That damned transmission” is easily avoided. Get a Focus with a stick.”

            Easier said than done. I drove a used one with a stick, but apparently the hatch is no available with one (save the ST), and good luck finding a four door with a manual.

          • 0 avatar
            tbone33

            I have a ’14 Focus SE with a stick in my garage. 60k miles later I can report it drives well and has been reliable though the front strut bearings are making some noise on occasion. I do wish there was another 3″ of rear legroom, and the Sync interface could be way simpler, but the car definitely has outperformed its $16k (after rebates) price.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            “I drove a used one with a stick, but apparently the hatch is not available with one . . .”

            Wacky. It’s available and plentiful in Canada.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      The Focus feels far tinnier than the Mazda. It feels like it’s built for a third world country by comparison.

      The Cruze is built for a totally different audience than the Mazda, and if my only criteria were fuel economy and comfort at good value, it would be my choice. It didn’t drive well unless it was going in a straight line, but I feel like most of the blame was on the hyper efficiency-minded tires.

      The Corolla really isn’t competitive with anything else in this class (other than the Lancer and Dart) other than in roominess, fuel economy and reputation. Driving my mom’s current-gen Corolla is like stepping back in time 15 years from my Mazda 3.

      I haven’t driven a current Civic but could never get past the looks.

      The Golf is the only car in this class better than the 3 overall in my opinion, I just couldn’t drive a Volkswagen as someone whose environmental leanings stop barely short of “ecoterrorist”. The Cruze is probably the best choice for the non-enthusiast.

      Also as I’ve said many times on here, I don’t notice any road noise or anything while driving the 3. The wind, yes, but not any more than in other compacts. The suspension is not harsh at all unless you have people in the back seat (it goes rock hard if there’s more than 100 pounds of people or cargo in the rear half of the car). The visibility could be better but again it’s no different than any other modern hatch or crossover I’ve driven. And it’s better than it was in my Scion xD.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    That’s odd that it took a long time to warm up. My 2016 6 has the same motor and I have heat by the time at the end of my neighborhood cul-de-sac and that’s without letting the car idle and warm up (I wait until the initial RPMs drop and then go, usually 15-20 seconds).

    I test drove a 2016 Mazda3 sedan with my friend this weekend and it was quite loud. Not so much that an average car buyer would complain if they were used to it, but it was a lot louder than my 6 (a car that TTAC says is so loud it’ll basically bust your eardrums or something).

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      It’s difficult to understand how a 4 cylinder internal combustion engine with aluminum head and block takes a long time to transfer heat to the heater core. Does Mazda have some type of unique cooling system flow at startup for emission reasons?

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      I never understood why cars couldn’t have a supplemental electric heater to cover the gap between start-up and warm-up.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Power draw. You can have seat heaters, but heating the cab on a crisp Fairbanks winter morning off a car battery, requires, at a minimum, lighting the poor battery on fire and burning it to the ground.

        In Europe, many small, slow to heat, diesel cars are sold with small diesel stoves feeding directly from the tank (Webasto, Espar..). Big trucks tend to have them as well. Those are sweet as heck, but I’m not sure if you can get petrol versions. They’re also quite expensive.

        • 0 avatar
          Ol Shel

          I mean, with an appropriate battery and charging system designed in.

          I’d pay extra for heat that works within seconds of turning the key, oh yes I would.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            A small heater for the front windshield would be welcome. Surely that would be doable, and probably a standard feature if everyone lived where it hits -40C in the winter. I can dress appropriately for the weather to deal with the cold myself, but it can take forever for that windshield to clear at times.

  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    Seems like Mazda is quite the opposite of BMW. Rightly or wrongly, while BMW softened their sedans and selling more cars, Mazda clings onto that zoom-zoom image at the expense of improving their cars where the typical buyer of compact and midsize cars deem important, comfortable and quietness, competitive price. Wind and tire noise, it’s well documented. Price premium for that zoom zoom while the typical buyer of Mazda (and Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, Ford, etc.) have budget to contend with. No surprise here.

  • avatar
    NoID

    Dear Sergio,

    License this car from Mazda. Apply crosshairs and rhombi as appropriate. Call it the Neon. Sell it.

    Mazda gets more plant utilization. Dodge gets a small car. SRT gets something to play with that weighs less than the scrap bin behind a die casting factory.

    We all win.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Again exhibiting the differences between the USA and the Canadian markets. In Canada for 2016 the Mazda 3 has approximately 8% of the ‘small car’ market, as reported by Timothy Cain in ‘Good Car, Bad Car’. With YTD sales of 23,588.

    The Canadian market also purchases a larger percentage of manual transmission vehicles.

    This may partially due to the Quebec market. However Canadians who generally purchase smaller, less expensive, more efficient vehicles than those in the USA (with the exception of our love affair for pick-ups) buy more Mazdas by percentage than our cousins to the South.

    This review does not mention the Mazda 3’s issues with rear seat headroom, lack of space in the hatch and the fact that exit/egress is far more unwieldy than in a Civic or Corolla.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      The Mazda 3 is also cheaper in Canada in comparison to the competition.

      It was the cheapest out of the cars I test drove when I was shopping (Forte, Focus, Golf, which I feel are the cars the Mazda usually gets cross shopped with along with the Civic)

  • avatar
    abayaa

    Own a 2012 3 sky activ hatch and I understand why it doesn’t sell too well.

    1. Reputation for rust. Not only body either. I couldnt remove my brake rotor with sledgehammer or fire. My buddy’s civic had no such problem.

    2. Loud and firm suspension

    3. Not any cheaper than other cars in its segment (canada pricing)

    4. Depreciation is absolutely killer in first few years compared to civics and corollas

    5. Fuel economy is at best average. I get around 10l/100km and 9 when I really tried.

    6. Cramped rear seats (my baby seat basically makes my passenger seat for midgets)

    For yor average shopper when they decide japanese I think they tend to think of corolla for vanilla and civic for a bit of flavour.

    I love the hatch, the drive is better than its competitors. But for average joe he couldnt care less. And to be honest as I have a kid and wife now, corollas and civic qualities get more appealing. If you are looking for fun I would recommend making the jump to a gti or wrx.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I have a 2010 3 hatch with the 2.5 and echo your sentiments to some extent. The two that stand out to me the most are:

      1. Noise – yeah, it’s loud.
      2. Rear seat space (and trunk space to an extent). I wouldn’t even consider swapping my kid’s car seat out of the SUV unless it was on fire and the Mazda was the only choice.

      Depreciation has been pretty moot to me – it sells at a comparable price to similarly aged Civics and Corollas right now. If I was only keeping it 2-3 years, I would have leased.

      Not any Cheaper – true, but when we bought it Mazda was the only one loaning free money (0%)

      Suspension – My other car is an S2000 so this is a boat in comparison. I’m pretty content with it in any case; it’s athletic enough that I enjoy it while still being relatively comfortable. My in-laws have a 2010 Civic and I wouldn’t say it’s any better. If anything, it feels more crashy on bumps.

      Fuel Economy – It gets what the sticker said. Not great (28-29mpg with the old engine), but it’s not a surprise – it was written on the car with big numbers.

      My next car will not be a Mazda, but only because of the noise. My need to cart kids means I’m going to step up to a midsize, probably a Passat if VWpocalypse is still affecting sale prices to the tune of $5k off MSRP.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        About your in-laws and the Civic – exactly! As a matter of fact, I drove both on the verge 2010-11 and if there were 2 cars alike, by space, trunk space, ride, noise – these were Mazda3 and Civic. Only Mazda3 had way nicer interior and better driving credentials. Everything in Civic was “cheap” and in Mazda3 it felt “expensive”. the good news for Mazda is that by far most of its noise came from Bridgestone tires. Once I replaces those with my old friend Pirelli P4 – my Mazda3 became very quiet.

    • 0 avatar
      sutherland555

      Very much agreed on the loud and firm suspension….I don’t mind it but understandably a deal breaker for some.

      As for the fuel economy, are you doing mostly city driving? I’m getting about 7.5 L/100km on average with a 50/50 mix. I find the highway economy stellar (around 6L/100km) but city economy (9-10L/100km depending on how bad traffic is) is atrocious

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      2012 is only part time skyactive. “Skyactive” engine is a little bit sky active while transmission I believe 100% skyactive. Body is 0% skyactive.

      • 0 avatar
        jomu

        If I’m driving responsibly I can squeeze 750km of highway driving from one tank in my ’13 Skyactiv. 50/50 mixed driving… aggressively (the way the Mazda3 is meant to be driven) will return about 7.9L/100 km or 600-650 km per tank.

  • avatar
    tremorcontrol

    I want to see Mazda bring the 6 WAGON to the N. American market. I think it’s one of the best looking wagons luxury or otherwise and would have a bit more cargo room than the 3 (google mazda 6 wagon). Would make a perfect alternative to an SUV/CUV for people who still like to drive. I would buy one in a nanosecond. (Unfortunately, I’m guessing it would be me and 14 other people who would actually buy one.)

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    They must really spec these things different for the rental market. I just don’t see the dynamic hype.

    For the same $$$ the enthusiast’s choice is obvious. 3s drive like base Golfs with less torque. The same money puts you in a GTI with mind-blowingly better tires and significantly more power. Not just a little more oomph- an easy 2 seconds lopped off the 0-60 time, and about a second and a half off the quarter.

    Not to mention the GTI is roomier, and for the $$$ I think is at least as well if not better equipped. Only thing the 3 has on it is better interior design.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      That’s what I was thinking. If you’re looking for something sporty, why wouldn’t you just get a GTI?

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        E-e-e-e-eh. I did extensive comparison of GTI-Mini Clubman-Mazda3. Although I am not ever going to top trims with these things. Base models mostly ok for me. So, in such comparo Mazda3 in my mind is the best. For 2.5L 5MT It gets most EPA, features, and it is cheaper. It is a bit slower off the line than GTI and this is pretty much all it loses to GTI. Arguably ride quality too but my current 3 ride quality fully satisfies me. Mini needs to be nearly naked and 3-cyl at that price point. And premium fuel required. GTI also eats premium. Plus, we’re talking cars made in England and Mexico with extra breakable component – turbo. Mazda 2.5 made in Japan and has excellent quality. After all, Mazda has more pros over GTI. And Mini is just too expensive to match. Also, I sat in new Clubman – this is a joke. I pushed my finger into a seat padding and felt the hard stuff 1.5 inches below. Are they kidding me with these seats?

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Ehhh different strokes. I get bored with a car after ~2-3 years so long term reliability is not of much concern to me. I do prefer the 3’s interior but the GTI’s is still way nicer than every car I’ve owned (including my old 350Z). And my other ride is a 12 second motorcycle (slow in the bike world) so the GTI’s superior straight line speed is much appreciated. Also helps that the GTI is available with a god honest mechanical LSD for cheep. GTI is the working man’s 911….

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      A same-price GTI will not be as well-equipped as a the 3s GT, last I checked.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      Roomier? What? The 3 has more shoulder and front legroom, and not to mention more overall passenger volume.

      At 6’2 I cannot drive the Golf, but I can a 3 hatch. Just not enough legroom. The 3 has noticeable more shoulder room as well, especially with someone in the car.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      The 3 is also much more reliable than a VW. So you forget that aspect too.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        I never forget about this. Interestingly, a guy worked with me, a big VW fan, had GTI. His car was in the shop few times, for days; one time for bad crankshaft. And he kept on telling how great VW was. Between my 2 current Mazda3 total 160K+ not even single day out of service. How well Mazda is built? – I sold Protege – 16.5 years, 195K miles. It had original CV-boots, shocks/struts, clutch, timing belt, and many other components that too long to list here.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Anyone who buys the “big” 2.5 engine in this car is a fool.

    Heresy, right? Wrong. The 2.0 model is better, by far.

    I’ve driven both, and the 2.5’s higher price doesn’t translate into radically better performance. The actual test numbers prove this thesis out.

    http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2016-mazda-3-20l-manual-test-review
    http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2017-mazda-3-25l-manual-test-review

    The 2.0 has the same great steering and suspension, same styling, better ride (the 16-inch tires eliminate much of the road noise and harshness you get with the model Tim tested), and it’s $21,000 before discounts.

    The base model is brilliant. The loaded-up one is a ripoff.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I have only driven the 2.0 automatic, but BY GAWD…. that thing was dog slow. My 8th gen Civic 1.8 5 speed feels like it has 20-30 more HP.

      I really enjoyed the Golf TSI way way way way way more, as the handling was similar, but the engine delivered downright “waftable” performance. It drove like a luxury car.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        In terms of actual numbers, the automatic isn’t much slower than the manual.

        http://media.caranddriver.com/files/2014-mazda-3-i-touring2014-mazda-3-i-touring-sedan-comparo.pdf

        The weird thing about the 3 is that it feels slow when you’re putzing around in everyday traffic, and quick when you’re driving aggressively.

        And agreed on the Golf – the TSI engine is terrific, and overall it’s far more refined than the 3. But the Mazda has far sharper handling and steering, even with the base versions.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “The base model is brilliant. The loaded-up one is a ripoff.”

      Interesting premise. Someone should write a series of articles around it. :-)

      Truth is, that’s the case with many cars. Well, maybe the base model isn’t brilliant, but increasingly the higher trim levels seem to offer less value and more profit margin to the manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      At least the 2.5 gets an analog tach. That goofy digital one on the 2.0 is just awful. You’ll also get a Japanese-built car rather than a Mexican one. I know a lot of people will argue that it doesn’t matter where it’s built, but a lot of factories still source parts locally, so they can be different.

    • 0 avatar
      MichiganMike

      I purchased a 2015 Mazda 3 with the 2.5 engine. I agree with Edmunds description of the differences between the 2.0 and 2.5 engines:
      “The base 2.0-liter engine in the Mazda 3 sounds a bit raspy under hard acceleration but provides better-than-average acceleration and has useful midrange torque output, making it a completely viable pick. Nevertheless, it’s still tempting to stretch your budget for the larger 2.5-liter engine. It’s quicker, smoother and slightly quieter, and there’s a minimal impact to overall fuel economy.”
      I was willing to sacrifice some fuel economy for better acceleration and a smoother, quieter drivetrain. Also, there were options that I desired that were only available with the larger engine.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    This 2.5 Grand Touring hatch and the GTI are on my short list of next cars. I have driven both.

    The Mazda offers more creature comforts for the price, but doesn’t have the turbo punch that a GTI does. Handling is similar enough. In my mind, it comes down to: do I want more comfort (2.5 GT) or do I want more power (GTI)?

    The 2.5 Grand Touring is more expensive than a GTI S because it offers features that the base GTI, such as dual-zone automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry, sunroof, pleather seats.

    I think the better comparison would be a 2017 GTI SE and a 2017 Mazda3 2.5 Grand Touring with the Premium Equipment Package. In that configuration, the MSRP of the GTI is $5,100 more. The 2017 GTI SE does include a mechanical LSD, but does not have automatic HVAC.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Driving experience with your two options GTI vs. Mazda3 are night and day. Even with the 2.5 in the Mazda you’re basically putzing around. The GTI is in a different category, which is quicker and surprisingly more comfortable especially when it comes to road noise. GTI will put a smile on your face every time you drive it while the Mazda 3 will have saying why didn’t I buy the GTI.

    • 0 avatar
      dawooj

      I cross shopped the 2017 Mazda 3 2.5 GT 5-door with a 2017 VW GTI Sport. Both manual. As you say, the 3 has much more creature comforts, but I bought the GTI because it’s more polished and I don’t care much for pleather/fogs/sunroof.

      Consider a remaining 2016 GTI SE with Performance Package if you can find one near you. VWs these days can be had for thousands under MSRP without much haggling.

      • 0 avatar
        phillymiata

        I did the same cross shopping and came out with the Mazda3S instead. The GTI just didn’t feel faster and was a very significant step down with regards to features. I wanted blind spot monitoring, navigation, rear traffic cross detect.

        Neither car is fast on the highway but the Mazda felt better on the backroads. When you add in VW reliability and the piss poor residuals on a VW lease (55% vs 63%) it really was easy decision.

        What I REALLY should have done is buy a VW TDI like i contemplated. Could have driven for basically free.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’ll beat this drum again: if you are really interested in the 3, skip the 2.5 and check out the 2.0 with a manual. It gives up very little to the 2.5 performance wise, and it’s a lot cheaper.

      But if I were looking for an actual performance compact, I’d definitely take the GTI.

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        The 2.0 may not give a lot in measured performance but if you want a manual transmission 2.0, it gives up a few nice features. Note: the 2.0 can only be had with a manual in the base Sport trim.

        Features available on the 2.0 Touring (AT only) that aren’t available on the 2.0 Sport: power heated leather seats, leather steering wheel and shifter, proximity key, automatic HVAC, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights.

        Going further, the 2.5 Grand Touring adds sunroof and “unlocks” significant options like bi-LED adaptive lights, nav, Safety Sense.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @LeMansteve:

          Good point about the toys you can’t get on the base model…it’s just that those kinds of options aren’t important to me. If that’s your thing, then, yeah, you’d be better off with the higher priced model.

          If that’s the price point, though, I’d rather be in the GTI, even without all the tech toys. In the end, the GTI’s just too damn good.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I believe the 3 GT gets actual leather (the 6 GT as well). The Touring models make do with the fake stuff.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Nozzle tov! Such a beyootiful snout!

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I wonder if the sedan would be any quieter by virtue of the cargo hold being enclosed?

    I’ve had my eye on these too just by virtue of “big engine in a little car” – at least until they put a turbo on the Mazda 6.

    Who else offers a manual trans in a wide variety of trim levels? I know Subaru still offers the manual Impreza in levels above “base” (including having heated seats be available in manual trans cars) but who else offers a non-base model manual without having to buy the SI, GTI, ST, WRX etc?

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      If it’s anything like the old 3s (I own one) the brunt of the noise is coming from the A pillars, front tires, and doors. I don’t think there’s a scrap of sound deadening up there.

      I’m sure there’s some coming from the rear too, but the front is overwhelming to the point that I don’t even notice noise in the rear.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    I’m not going to start a tally but it feels like this review was about 80% negative which explains the sales figures but not the rave. I love the 3. I actually love all Mazdas. In my view, every single Mazda is at or near the top of its class. But reviews like this don’t help.

    Personally I’d save the money and skip the 2.5L. As an above comment pointed out the performance jump isn’t all that meaningful and you get a lighter, more efficient car for less money.

    2 years ago, the 3 would have been my choice in this segment. However, I believe the Civic has jumped to the top of the class after about 10 years of mediocrity.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “I believe the Civic has jumped to the top of the class after about 10 years of mediocrity.”

      If it weren’t for that damn CVT, you’d have a strong argument – it’s better than the last one, but it still sucks. The only way to get a manual in this car is a) the base LX sedan (a rare bird), or b) the hatchback, which Honda dealers ain’t dealing on at all.

    • 0 avatar
      zoomzoomfan

      TTAC doesn’t really care for Mazdas. They are one of the few review outlets that give them generally negative marks sprinkled with occasional praise.

      Many of the complaints are somewhat justified, but I find that in day-to-day driving, they just aren’t as noticeable to me, nor to my passengers. Of course, I have a 6 and not a 3. But the complaints about the 3 were largely repeated during TTAC’s review of the 6.

      • 0 avatar
        Funky

        I think you’re correct about the general negativity here. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently biased in favor of Mazdas. I own a 2017 CX-3 GT, 2016 CX-5 GT, and have on order a 2017 6 Touring w/ manual (and, of course, I’ve owned a MX-5/Miata PRHD). I am not familiar with the Mazda 3, aside from seeing them and sitting in them in the dealer showroom. I’ve never ridden in one nor have I driven one. Someday, maybe I’ll give one a try. In regard to the others (excluding the MX-5/Miata), I don’t have any complaints about sound/noise level (I’m honestly not sure from where these complaints come). And, the interior designs are very nice and comfortable. And, including the CX-5 small SUV, I get a kick out of driving them.

        And as an aside, at the local college campus I often see a Protege Wagon. It is banged up and is likely driven by a university employee or maybe a student who has been around for a few years. I sometimes park next to it in the parking lot. I’ve had a good look at it. It definitely does not have any rust (and, allot of road salt is used in our area). So, I am a bit skeptical about the rust comments (just because my first-hand experience contradicts the comments).

        • 0 avatar
          zoomzoomfan

          Same here. I had a 2008 3 hatchback for six years and it was rock solid reliable. Never really gave me any trouble over 60,000 miles. It also never rusted despite me driving it all winter. I just washed it every now and then.

          My wife owns a 2013 CX-5 that we bought new in December 2012 and it hasn’t given us any problems over 41,000 miles, either. So, when it came time to replace my 3, I naturally went Mazda again. I love my 6.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          “And as an aside, at the local college campus I often see a Protege Wagon. It is banged up and is likely driven by a university employee or maybe a student who has been around for a few years. I sometimes park next to it in the parking lot. I’ve had a good look at it. It definitely does not have any rust (and, allot of road salt is used in our area). So, I am a bit skeptical about the rust comments (just because my first-hand experience contradicts the comments).”

          It must be a recent southern transplant then. Proteges of the generation and the rounded looking one from the mid-90s preceding it are horrific rusters, worse than the early Mazda3s even. The only other cars of that era that rotted as badly that I can think of are Nissans (Sentra,Altima, Maxima, Pathfinder).

          A neighbor of mine has a red MP5 with red tape covering big holes in the rear quarter panels, and we don’t even get anywhere as much salt in Indiana as back home in Central NY.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I thought you moved to a fancy neighborhood, why’s your neighbor rolling that crap!?

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Gtem

            I’ve seen maybe two well kept early 90s Protege’s in all my life with minimal rust. Otherwise, after searching them used and just seeing them in the streets, I’ve yet to see one that doesn’t have a wad of rust in the back!

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            The neighborhood I moved to is sort of ‘eclectic,’ definitely a nice and safe place to live and desirable for its walkability to things. My street has new Tahoes and Touregs sharing space with said rusty MP5, Montero Sports, u-body GM vans, and everything in between (just regular run of the mill newer cars). I suppose My ES300 on steelies has an overall depreciating effect on my block :p

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh noooo your property value!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @gtemnykh

            Just put hubcaps on it and watch the trend reverse.

          • 0 avatar
            Funky

            It is possibly just a super well maintained example. I saw it in-town, last night, while I was at the local Santa parade. It is a very nice looking little wagon (except for the banged-up panels). If it’s as tough as everybody claims to fight off the rust on these things, the owner of this one must spend 24/7 battling the rust. Because it is a very rust free example.

        • 0 avatar
          legacygt

          Regarding noise level, Mazdas generally cater to more enthusiastic drivers who may not put noise levels at the top of their priority list. I recently replaced my CX-9 with a Dodge Durango and I can tell you that the NVH difference is striking. Being in the Durango is like being in a vault compared to the CX-9. (Note the CX-9 was updated this year and I’m told that they’ve included much more sound insulation.) Of course, the Durango doesn’t hold a candle to the Mazda when it comes to steering or driver engagement.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s just not true. Many of us have either owned Mazdas in the past or currently own one.

      • 0 avatar
        Der_Kommissar

        In all honesty, I think some of the other outlets (car and driver) are way too biased towards Mazda, almost coming across as advertising. Even though they had a long term 3, I don’t feel like they ever actually live with any mazda other than the miata. These are all great cars for 30 minutes, but they wear on you over time.

        • 0 avatar
          zoomzoomfan

          I think it just depends on what you are looking for out of the car and what your daily driving conditions are like. I have yet to grow weary or tired of my 6 after one year and 12,000 miles, but I know others that have had 3s and such and didn’t like them after a while. It all boils down to personal preference, and unfortunately (for Mazda), most people don’t prefer them.

          I just hope I get mine paid off before they discontinue the model due to low sales. Rapid depreciation = sad me.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          After twelve-and-a-half years, the only thing about my Mazda3 that wears on me is the lack of a limited slip differential.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Considering that Mazda advertises in a few of these outlets, I’m not surprised the reviews are a bit bias’d.

          Rust? Just do a few quick google searches, nuff said.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          the thing is, Mazdas have plenty of flaws. But most car publications are staffed by enthusiasts (both real and self-proclaimed) who don’t actually own the cars, and they praise the driving dynamics with nary a clue about how they actually hold up. anecdotally I know a couple of people who’ve owned Mazdas, and one (a Protege) was an enormous piece of sh!t, and the other (an ’08 3) has been okay, but has suffered broken coil springs (not uncommon on the 3) and at 80,000 miles needs a bunch of stuff done underneath the car. At least it isn’t rusting.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      What negativity? Every review about Mazdas here is the same… they gush over the driving experience and design, and (rightfully) dump on the lack of power and refinement. Pretty honest assessment. For me personally the 3 seems hella refined but my points of reference are Hondas and motorcycles. In any case I’m not getting a sense of unfair bashing or clickbaity hate like with the Alpha platform or FCA deathwatch stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I’m a 3 owner and I like mazdas. They do 2 critical things wrong though, and that costs them a ton of sales, especially in this segment.

      1. Road noise, at least as far as the 3 and 6 are concerned. They are both far and away the loudest cars in their segments.

      2. Rear seat space. The 3 may as well not have a back seat if you compare it to the Civic, Corolla, or Jetta. You’re eating dashboard with any sort of rear-facing car seat behind you. Also, I wouldn’t want to sit behind myself and I’m only 5’10”. That is significant.

      3. Trunk space. The hatch isn’t all as big in real world usage as I thought it would be, though it can swallow fairly large items if you fold the seats.

      I commented on my in-laws’ similar-year civic to our 3 above. It gets everything wrong with the Mazda right (quieter, rear leg room, massive trunk), albeit at the expense of a cheaper feeling interior, crashier, less athletic suspension, and comparatively anemic motor (140hp vs 170hp).

      The things the Civic gets right are the things consumers actually care about, and that’s why Mazda doesn’t move more units comparatively.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    Loaded up like this tester, the interior is probably a nice place to be. I rented a base model 3 earlier this year, and drove 200 miles of highway and curvy back roads. I disliked every moment in that car. Terrible sound system, S-L-O-W acceleration in all ranges, road texture created interior boom that killed my ears, too-light steering… need I go on? Granted, I am used to driving a new A3 and a new Golf R, but I think the last 2015 Cruze I rented felt more solid and comfortable than the little Mazda.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    Sound insulation is about $300 to turn this car into something much quieter. However it requires a weekend in the garage and a lot of bending and twisting.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “Fuel economy in mostly urban driving is hovering right around 26 miles per gallon, in line with EPA ratings, but well below the 30 mpg rating of the 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport.”

    2.5L vs 1.5 turbo hamster. One engine barely spins, another ever works hard. Made in Japan vs Made in England.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Less cargo capacity and over 6″ shorter than even the miserable brokeback HR-V.

  • avatar
    jomu

    More sound deadening = more weight and mass is Mazda’s biggest enemy. Being one of the lightest in its class means it’s also the most agile. Mazda knows what it’s doing and I’ll be a customer as long as they continue to build affordable and fun to drive cars.

    I drive a ’13 Skyactiv hatch and I’ll continue to scare the living shit out of my boyfriend and all my friends every time I pull a tight second gear turn around a city corner while still averaging 28ish mpg. I considered the GTI but I’d rather not pay for VW maintenance.

    I don’t know what kind of automotive witchcraft Mazda’s engineers are up to but my god is the steering ever precise! It takes me a minute to adjust every time I drive a Toyota or a Hyundai… it freaks me out when I drive over a visible imperfection in the road and zero tactical feedback makes it’s way back to my hands.

    It’s really difficult to find another car in it’s class that you can drive as aggressively as the Mazda3. If only Mazda would listen to our prayers and bring us a new Speed3 with the all-new 2.5L turbo from the CX-9.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    1. Under carriage noise isn’t hard to find in this class, period. Civic, Corrolla, and focus were all as bad. The only one better was the Cruze.

    2. The screen is perfectly placed in IMHO. While it seems magazines seem to hate it, lots of people who own the car seem to like where its at, and while the UI isn’t great, its much better than what came before it.

  • avatar
    sproc

    We took one of these for a lengthy test drive earlier this year and loved a lot about it. However, both my wife and I found the non-retractable heads up display an absolute dealbreaker. I thought it looked cheap and it was distracting to have in my field of view, even with the display itself turned off. For my very small-of-stature wife, it actively interfered with her sight lines and was a legitimate safety issue. No thanks.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Mazda 3 is $1,315 more expensive than a basic Volkswagen Golf GTI”

    Wow.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Must have ticked off some expensive options. Looking at their websites, I see the 3 GT as $600 less than the cheapest GTI. But you can add thousands in extra safety and premium features to the 3.

      And of course, the 2.5 Touring trim starts even lower. $2100 less than the GTI, and that’s with an automatic, pleather, and a sunroof thrown in.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      That’s for a top of the line 3, though, Corey.

      Now, if you want a Golf with leather seats, nav, a sunroof and all the tech toys, that would run in the low $30,000 range, easy.

      Personally, I’d take a base GTI over the top of the line 3.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I just feel like the GTI has more innate goodness than the 3 would. It’s on a special level of hot hatchback royalty.

        Nobody who knows cars will question a GTI badge.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Agreed 100%, Corey…that’s why I advocate for the base 3, which offers about 95% of the 2.5’s performance envelope, at a much lower price. People are right when they say the 3 has faults, but the ones that are objectionable at a $28,000 price point become far more forgivable at $21,000. The base 3 is definitely the way to go, and far more competitive with cars at a lower price point than higher-priced ones.

          Just got done buying my new car, but I’m already looking forward to the next one…a GTI will definitely be in the running. Right now, it’s out of my budget.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I don’t understand why Mazda is so stingy about offering any kind of adjustable lumbar support. Even in the 6, you have to move up to the Grand Touring to get any adjustable support. Not available on the Sport or Touring trims. And not available even on the highest level 3, if I’m reading that right?

    That’s just ridiculous. People have different bodies and need different seats, and Mazdas are way to pricey to not have any sort of adjustability built in. Having owned two Mazdas so far, the seats in both are/were pretty miserable.

    I’m also kind of irritated that this car only has the one-touch window control for the driver’s side window. The same as my 2009 Mazda3, which didn’t make such an effort to be premium. The 6 has one-touch on all four windows, as does the GTI. On the highest trim level, there’s no reason for the 3 not to have it as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Der_Kommissar

      The 2016 had it- did they remove it for 2017? It was a crappy manual job that really had very little effect on the seat, but it did exist. Felt like a throwback to a 1991 Corolla.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      My absolute base model 2016 3 has auto down and up for driver and passenger front windows.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        That’s good to hear about the windows. The last time I sat in one was probably two years ago at an auto show. It didn’t have auto up/down on both windows, only the 6 did. So I’m glad they fixed that.

        Not sure about the lumbar adjustment, just basing my comment on Tim’s mention of it. Sounds like there is no adjustment. My ’09 has a crummy lever on the seat, that doesn’t make it any more comfortable or supportive. The seats are really miserable in that car. My Mustang’s seats are far better, and the adjustable lumbar support is far more supportive.

      • 0 avatar
        Der_Kommissar

        REally, my 2015 S model only had it for the driver. I do not believe any Mazda 3 has it for more than the driver. Hell, they’re not even lighted Except for the drivers one. Its cheaper than cheap.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          I’m glad to know I’m not crazy about the windows. Even more glad that Mazda fixed it. I like to have my windows open the same amount on each side. So I always press the auto down driver’s window in my 3, but then have to hold the button for a few seconds to get the other one down.

    • 0 avatar
      MRx19

      As a 2016 Mazda 3 owner, the comments about the lack of lumbar support is dead on. Only the Grand Touring has an manually adjustable lumbar support. I solved he problem with a quick trip to Hobby Lobby and the purchase of a block of 2″ foam. Unzip the back cover and insert a piece cut to 12″ x 6″ between the metal support framing and the seat cover and problem solved. Granted, this should not be necessary but there is a simple solution to be had. Other than that, the car is well above my expectations.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    This was the exact spec I was considering buying ~2yrs ago. The way most mainstream automakers package options, it was the only way to get features I wanted, having to accept things like that stupid HUD.

    I just couldn’t stomach handing over 27 large for what in my mind is still a Mazda GLC. What’s worse is that the base car is 10 grand less, and is a Ace of Base candidate.

  • avatar
    badhobz

    the car is ridiculous for the price. This is exactly why i just leased a 2016 corolla le. My car (cdn dollar in BC) cost only 19,450 (minor haggling). Yes it wont corner carve as good, and it doesnt have a stick, but its quieter, more reliable and way better on gas. Im getting 6.3L/100km in mixed driving.

    Toyota is trying to clear out all their 2016 so i leased mine for 48 months, 240 dollars tax in and 0 down payment. They even gave me a gas card good for 888 litres of fuel. I love this cheap-rolla!!!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You’re not -really- who Mazda is after with this car.

      “I wanted a filet, but I bought some Great Value bologna instead. I’ll still be as full afterward!”

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Yeah those who will accept Corolla are not Mazda customers. However the question remains if Mazda can carve out enough of a niche to stay alive.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          Yes Maxda can carve out a nice he. It has 2℅ of the market with limited offerings (no trucks, mi Ivan’s or muscle cars) and are profitable. Their volume globally are increasing, they have increased average transaction prices too. Every criticism thrown at them (some valid) have been answered. Examples include poor fuel economy (now class leading), poor design, infotainment screens too small, noisy (CX9 has fixed that and future models will follow), rust etc etc.

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        “You’re not -really- who Mazda is after with this car.”

        Right. Mazder is after those 27 car guys with kids under 5 and, by God, they’ve gotten most of ’em!

    • 0 avatar
      sutherland555

      I can’t argue with you on quieter and more reliable. Corolla runs on an older and proven engine and platform so obviously, generally speaking, more reliable. Definitely quieter.

      Regarding fuel economy, he tested the 2.5L, which will obviously used more gas than the 1.8L in your Corolla. I would venture that the 2.0 Mazda3 would be at least be equally efficient as the Corolla and it offers up more HP and torque.

      That said, I can understand your purchase. Toyota’s aren’t my cup of tea but for reliable A to B transportation, that or the Civic is your best bet.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      I’m not as vehemently opposed to Corolla ownership as I used to be, but going through the online “build” app, I could never get a configuration to fall in place that was anything better than a straight up commodity car. I have a thing where I won’t buy another car with a black interior. Every time I tried to build a nicely equipped but sensible Corolla biased towards comfort, the only color options that turn up are about three shades of gray on the outside and black on the inside.If I’m going to buy a boring compact sedan, I at least want to make a few aesthetic choices to make it tolerable, therefore I’d probably go with Elantra instead.

      • 0 avatar
        badhobz

        Erruhhh I think the base rollas come with grey interior (on the black / white / silver) and beige interiors (green / browny)

        Either way I think black interior is only on the S model.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      48 month lease? On a Corolla?

      LOL…

      • 0 avatar

        Should have Asked Bark on that one. For real.

      • 0 avatar
        badhobz

        What’s the joke here? 48 month was zero percent interest. 36 was the same so why pay more per month?

        We wanted a few things from this “beater” car

        1) invisible – didn’t want to stand out in any way. Didn’t want to be noticed by anyone or anybody. Why is this important? It is to us

        2) utterly reliable – I’ve seen taxi’s in the gvt area with 300k+ on a 2013 corolla and they still hold up well

        3) cheap on gas – I’ve never had a car get 6.3L/100km that wasn’t a hybrid.

        4) loaded with just enough tech crap – she wanted heated seats, bluetooth, backup camera, etc

        I have other more interesting vehicles for weekend and spirited driving so the Rolla makes total sense to me.

        I got mine in green!

  • avatar
    Der_Kommissar

    About that hatch- I watched a young mother attempt to load a folded graco type baby stroller into the hatch of a 3 while I was waiting for service about a year ago, but it was too big to fit. The hatch area is very small and impracticable for a hatch. You can’t even get a set of golf clubs in width wise. I bought the sedan because of that, which I later regretted for other reasons. Hard to sell a hatch in the states that has very little practicality. The Golf/GTI is way better on this one.

    • 0 avatar
      sutherland555

      I have a previous gen Mazda3 hatchback. Lots of usable trunk space but this gen, the way they’ve shaped the back has really compromised the trunk space. While this gen is a much nicer car overall, the crappy trunk space is would probably be a deal breaker for me and I’d settle for sedan instead were I buying.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I always say, if you expect to drive 3 kids around, Mini is not for you. When I said, I love to buy Juke and someone told me, “there is no room in the back”; I say – I don’t need room in the back.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      That’s harsh. I haven’t really looked in the back of the new 3 hatch to see how much room there is. In my first-gen car, I’ve easily stuffed a large La-z-Boy into the back (with the rear seats down, of course).

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        Stuffed a freezer and bunch of groceries in my Forte 5 once…..the guy at the store was amazed that freezer even fit in the hatch.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          Lol, I bought a 60″ plasma a few years ago, and someone who walked past me in the parking lot said to his friend that there was no way it was going to fit in the 3. He was wrong (luckily I measured beforehand).

  • avatar
    JMII

    To compete with the GTI the MazdaSpeed edition with a turbo needs to return. However as others mentioned the shape of the hatch makes the GTI more usable.

    I’ve gotten the sedan version of the Mazda 3 multiple times as a rental and my biggest complaint: the Nav system. You see it is an option and if you (or Hertz in my case) didn’t pony up for it you’ll be sorry. Because when you push the Nav button (which is always installed) you are greeted with a reminder that “your Mazda dealer can install a map here”. Its super embarrassing! The system then mocks you with a small digital compass display.

  • avatar
    silentsod

    I picked up a 2017 GT with the manual recently and I will say that the tires are killing it on one particular road surface type. I have Blizzaks ready to go and, because the car is so quiet on most road surfacing where I live, I am expecting the noise over the surfaces where it does poorly to be much improved.

    After cross shopping this, the Focus ST (similar price wise after incentives), and the Civic hatch we settled on the Mazda because it’s interior is the nicest materials and controls wise, it has a manual transmission available with fancy features (thanks, Honda, for not selling the United States of America an uptrim manual) and it was the most enjoyable to drive. The FoST lost out because the interior is a disaster compared to the other two but otherwise was a very nice car.

    That said, I would have put up with Honda’s slightly chintzier interior materials if they had offered their sensing package, better lighting, heated seats, etc on a manual hatch.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    That poor thing looks so *sad* in the top photo!

    “I got squozed in the middle till my nose popped out and my sides caved in!”

  • avatar
    buzzyrpm

    Love the interior design of the car with the great detailing. Unfortunately the exterior is a big miss, although the 2017 updates to the front end is a big improvement.

    The noise issue is scary as I have a 2010 Mazda3 and need a quieter car. It’s not clear how much quieter the latest gen is, as there are as many articles and posts that say the car to suitably quiet as not.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      The interior is great looking, but it seems significantly more cramped than the previous two generations.

      • 0 avatar
        buzzyrpm

        Yes the smaller interior space is another issue to contend with. I may delay the purchase till I test drive the new Civic Si. Though I wish the Si was available in the 4 door hatch instead of the sedan. As the Sedan has odd lines towards the back.

        • 0 avatar
          Der_Kommissar

          I don’t think I would have bought my 3 if the updated Civic had been out. It’s just a better balance of all things a small car needs to be. Other than the CVT, of course.

          • 0 avatar
            buzzyrpm

            A used Mazda3 top trim with the 6speed would be great. But they are impossible to find new and used. Funny as that’s the car they advertise on TV, in print and at auto shows..

  • avatar
    rofergZ28

    I chose my 2016 3 GT M6 sedan over a comparably-priced Golf Comfortline 5MT because the shifter in the test drive car was so good…

    …and the shifter in mine is utter crap. 3 to 4 shifts sometimes catch, and it hates going into reverse half the time…and this is after a complete transmission REPLACEMENT at 18,000kms on the odometer!

    I’m immensely happy that I’ve only got 24.5 months left to go on my lease – I’ll be happy to see it go. I like the interior a lot, but ingress/egress is a pain (those damned door openings are too small!) and a manual transmission is supposed to be a joy, not a chore.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’m amazed you found a manual-equipped Golf to begin with.

      • 0 avatar
        rofergZ28

        They actually had them on the lot in both three and five doors (but no wagons)! I really, really wanted a stick this time out and that severely narrowed the field…I wanted a Fiesta or Focus ST but I just don’t fit in those damned Recaros (and they’re mandatory in Canada). :(

  • avatar
    vanpressburg

    It is a great car. The steering feedback is amazing,
    but Mazda3 2.5l costs more than Honda Accord 2.4l.
    Accord looks much better.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    I had a 2006 Mazda3 S Touring: you got the big engine, the big wheels and tires, and the stick, all for a very reasonable price…plus a roomy interior with good visibility and sexy Tokyo-by-night lighting. Today, no dice: the equivalent Mazda3 model has small steel wheels with awful plastic covers, doesn’t have a real tach, comes with the revvy but slow 2-liter, looks like a dessicated atomic cockroach and has worse visibility and room than before. Today, if you want the big engine and the big wheels and tires in your Mazda3 hatch, you’re going to pay dearly, and at that point you’ll likely say “wouldn’t I really rather have this GTI over here, or this used BMW? It’s quieter, more solid, and has more room.”

  • avatar
    VTECV6NYC

    Too bad my first and only Mazda 3 was a POS; every bit the “Poor Man’s BMW” as it relates to reliability (powertrain control module failure, 4 sunroof replacements, etc.)and parts (premature shock and strut leaks and failure) and build quality (improperly assembled interior panels). I appreciated the ride and handling, but the fuel economy in the 2.3 was worse than my 2017 Accord V6; NVH was an issue at highway speeds and on long trips and, after a few too many $0 deductible warranty trips to the dealer, the suggestive purchase of a new one became a part of every dealer experience.

  • avatar
    DriveOf85

    @Timothy Cain: I love the Leonard Cohen song titles here! Well played.

  • avatar
    MichiganMike

    For 2018, Mazda has added safety technologies across all trim lines of the 3 while holding the line on price. This adds significant value.

    https://www.cars.com/articles/2018-mazda3-whats-changed-1420696495926/

    I recently purchased a 2018 3 GT hatchback automatic with premium package for under 24K plus tax and title. The premium package for 2018 includes: in-car navigation, heated steering wheel, paddle shifters with the automatic, auto-dimming rearview interior mirror, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and a more sophisticated front collision system with automatic braking.

    The radar cruise, collision avoidance and blind spot monitor systems are safety features that are important to me and rated highly by IIHS and Consumer Reports. Many other cars I considered either did not have these features or were thousands of dollars more when similarly equipped.

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