———————- Advertisement ———————-
1. What’s new for 2015?
The popular Mazda3 heads into 2015 with minor tweaks. The Mazda3s now offers a six-speed manual transmission to complement its 2.5L engine. Newly standard on all trims but base is the Mazda Connect Infotainment System featuring a 7-inch display. The CD player is no longer standard on lower trim levels..
2. How much does it cost (with Trim info)?
The base Mazda3 is the 3i SV sedan, nicely outfitted with A/C, power accessories, 16-inch steel wheels and other valuable features for a base car. It starts just under $17,750. Next up is the 3i Sport Hatchback for $2,000 more, or the 3i Sport Sedan for $20,315. The 3i Touring Sedan has an MSRP of $19,595 and the 3i Grand Touring Sedan starts at $22,745. Add $3-4K for the 3s sedans, less for the hatchbacks. In all, Mazda3 comes in 11 configurations and trims.
3. What options or trim level is best for me?
The 3i Sport is a good economical choice, as it includes the 7-inch display, 6-speaker audio, cruise control, Bluetooth and Pandora. The midlevel 3i Touring offers worthwhile safety features like blind-sport monitoring, cross-traffic alert and rearview camera. The 3s Touring brings you the more powerful engine, while the 3s Grand Touring adds premium items like real leather seats, Eloop regenerative braking. Smart City Brake Support, radar-based cruise control and lane-departure warning.
4. What engine do you recommend?
The 3i models feature a 2.0L inline-4 making 155 hp. It offers more than adequate performance and good fuel economy. We recommend the 184-hp 2.5L inline-4 found in the 3s models — it trades some mpgs for a more powerful and sporty feel. Driving enthusiasts can opt for the excellent 6-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is standard on the 3s models.
5. How is the fuel economy?
The smaller engine is a fuel sipper, delivering 29 city/40 highway mpg in the hatchback with manual and 30/41 with the automatic. The 3i sedans provide 29/41 with manual and 30/41 with automatic. The mpgs for the 3s manuals are 26/35 (hatchback) and 25/37 (sedan), whereas the automatics give 27/37 (hatchback) and 28/39 (sedan). The automatic-only Grand Touring with Eloop delivers 28/39 (hatchback) and 29/40 (sedan).
6. How does the vehicle handle?
The little Mazda3 is a kick to drive, especially in 3s guise. The 3s feel is decidedly sporty, with good brake feel and excellent steering that leads its segment. Ride quality is also very good, whether taking sharp corners or cruising down the highway. The best mix of handling and shifting response is delivered by a 3s Touring or Grand Touring model in Sport Mode. Ride stiffens somewhat when you choose larger wheels and tires. The 3i’s smaller engine compromises acceleration to some extent but has useful midrange torque. It’s also noisier than the bigger engine.
7. Are the controls easy to use?
The controls are intuitive, and the visibility and driving position in the Mazda3 are very good. You don’t have to sort through arrays of buttons or menu choices to accomplish most tasks. All the controls are in easy reach. The color display is a touchscreen, which is a welcome redundancy. The available blind-spot monitor is a worthwhile edition for a compact car.
8. Is it comfortable?
The cabin layout and materials are comparable with the best cars in this class. The upholstery, panels and switches all have an upscale feel. The sporty front seats are bolstered for extra comfort, and the contoured rear seats offer adequate seating space. Some other compact cars offer more rear space. The car is a little noisy.
9. What about safety?
We mentioned the blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning,radar cruise control and the Smart City Brake Support that, at lower speeds, applies the brakes if you forget to. The NHTSA gave the 2015 Mazda3 a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating. The IIHS gave the Mazda3 Good marks in all tests, including the challenging small-overlap front offset impact test
10. How’s the reliability and resale value?
Unfortunately, JD Power reports a decline in the quality rating for the Mazda3, dropping from four stars out of five in 2012 to just two stars in the 2014. However, its reliability rating remained steady at four stars throughout the period. Kelly Blue Book reports that a used, good condition 2014 3s Touring Sedan with 19,500 miles can be purchased in the range of $19,088 to $23,483, with $21,286 as the fair purchase price. This compares to an invoice price for a new 2014 model of $24,315 and an MSRP of $25,390.
11. What other models should I consider?
The 2015 Mazda3 is certainly one of the top choices in the compact car segment. Other good models include the Ford Focus with high-tech and high-quality features, the economical Kia Forte, the dependable Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, and the rather fancy Volkswagen Golf. For those looking for more room and comfort, check out the Nissan Sentra and the Chevrolet Cruze.