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2016 Mazda3 5-door GT Review by John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel


REVIEWED MODEL: 2016 Mazda3 5-door GT
ENGINE: 2.5-liter DOHC 4
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with paddles
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 184 hp @ 5,700 rpm/186 lb.-ft. @ 3,250 rpm
WHEELBASE: 106.5 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 175.6 x 70.7 x 57.3 in.
TIRES: P215/45R18
CARGO: 20.2 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 27 mpg city/37 mpg highway/25.3 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 13.2 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,001 lbs.
COMPETITIVE CLASS: Acura ILX, Scion, Ford Focus, VW Beetle
STICKER: $30,370 (includes $820 delivery, $3,105 options)

BOTTOM LINE: The Mazda3 is a very nice compact sedan, no matter what the EPA calls it. It has decent power and handling to go along with nice ride quality.          

It should be common knowledge by now that Mazda numbers its cars by size. For example, there’s the small Mazda2 (very small; I rented one once), the “midsize” Mazda3 and the REAL midsize Mazda6. There’s something going on with the CX series as well, but I’ll get into that later.          

The topic of the day is the Mazda3, which is a very good compact car (note the difference with the previous paragraph). The 3 is ideal for a small family (two young children or fewer) or empty nesters. Since it’s a 5-door hatch back, it has adaptable cargo capacity to carry either young people’s stuff or for the empty nesters to lug cargo back and forth from their children’s abodes.          

The 2.5-liter DOHC four under the hood develops decent power at 184 horsepower and a86 lb.-ft. of torque. Power reaches the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The paddle shifters work well for when you want to get sporty, and this is the kind of car you can have fun with. It’s not a sports car by any means, but you can enjoy it as a sports sedan.          

Instrumentation is unique. There’s a large center-mounted tachometer with a small digital speedometer located at about 5 o’clock on the dial. But, when you turn on the engine a small plastic piece flops up from above the instrument cluster that serves as a heads up display. This is an elegant solution to the HUD display problem, which is usually solved by projecting the speed up onto the windshield. Nice work Mazda.          

Front seats are comfortable, with the driver’s powered and the passenger’s manual, at least in our tester. Both offer good side support. In our tester, the seats were white with black inserts. I thought they added class to a small car.          

The rear seats are also comfortable, with good side support for rear seats. Leg room is cozy, but adequate. There is a pair of cupholders in the pull-down arm rest, with room for water bottle in all four doors. Four assist handles help passengers upon entry and exit.          

The tailgate reveals a good cargo area for the size of the car. But, after a week in the car, I still had a problem finding the release button for the hatch. Inside the cargo area there are four hooks for tie-downs.          

The navigation system is easy to program using the Multi Function Commander Control knob in the center of the console. This control is also used for selecting among audio choices. The small volume and on/off switch is to the right of the bigger MFCC knob.          

There is a nice cubby at the base of the center stack that holds the CD player. I also used it for holding sunglasses because I don’t like overhead sunglass holders. The small center console/arm rest has a 12-volt plug and two USB outlets. The door pulls have bottoms which makes them convenient for holding keys (the Mazda3 has a pushbutton start/stop) or cell phones.          

While it may not be for everyone, I liked the Mazda3. It’s the kind of car that can be almost a sports car, almost a small SUV and almost a mid-size car. It is, however, a nice compact package.

© 2015 The Auto Page Syndicate

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