Susan Frissell

One of the most fun small sedans on the market, the Mazda3 4-door arrived at our doorstep last Tuesday; in a stunning Blue Reflex Mica, Grand Touring edition. We have enjoyed it immensely.

Much like driving any Mazda product, the Mazda3 exceeds expectations of fun, fuel economy and good looks. And, of course, sportiness. Introduced in 2004, the Mazda3 is Mazda’s best-selling model, having sold 4.5 million around the world since it hit the market. Also available in the 5-door hatchback styling, this is an affordable, fun-to-drive vehicle.

With a very reasonable starting price of $17,845 (to $25,795), the Mazda3 is available in several trim levels: In the 2.0-liter, one can opt for a i Sport MT, i Sport AT, i Touring MT and AT, i Grand Touring MT/AT; the Touring Automatic and Grand Touring models are also available with Mazda’s 2.5L engine.

2016 Mazda3 Grand Touring

2016 Mazda3 Grand Touring

Our Mazda3 Grand Touring test car came equipped with Mazda’s SKYACTIV 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission, with a MSRP of $22,545 (total price $23,435). The only option included on our test Mazda3 was a cargo mat ($90).

As with most vehicles today, the Mazda3 4-door is loaded with the latest in technology, including standard Bluetooth wireless pairing and audio-streaming, push-button ignition, heated power-side mirrors, 6-way power drivers’ seat with manual lumbar adjustment, moonroof, variable heated front seats, power window/door locks, and keyless entry,

The 7-inch color screen sits up in the dash, making it easy to consult. The commander control, located on the console is easy to use and intuitive. We are used to it now and actually prefer it. The Bose sound system provides decent audio sound, through nine speakers and offering Pandora, AM/FM/CD, HD radio, 2 USB inputs.

Of course, cruise control is standard, and buyers can also opt for the available Radar Cruise Control. Carpeted floor mats and steering-wheel mounted controls are all standard. The Grand Touring trim level adds auto on/off headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, auto-dimming interior mirrors, illuminated vanity mirrors, safety and security highlights.

The 2016 Mazda3 gets 5-star NHTSA rating, of course, with its i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety technologies. The Grand Touring trim level also offers bi-xenon headlights with auto-leveling, pivoting Adaptive Front-lighting System, LED combination tail lights, LED daytime running lights and Homelink integration.

Mazda3 interior

Mazda3 interior

One can also opt for Mazda’s i-ELOOP regenerative braking, active grille shutters, High Beam Control, Lane Departure Warning System and Radar Cruise Control. No shortage of the latest in high-tech safety. What the average driver needs to remember, though, is even though these vehicles are equipped with the highest level of safety features, how a car operates still depends on the driver.

As the years have gone by, Mazda still manages to offer a very competitive and stylish sedan in the Mazda3. Its long hood, swept windscreen and classy wheels make this a stunner. The Mazda3’s design is unmistakably Mazda, and we like that.

Mazda’s upright grill and fenders are part of the brand’s KODO-Soul of Motion design. The Mazda3’s interior is decked out in quality materials, leatherette seating in the GT, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift. The sport-like seats are very comfortable. Although rear-seating offers plenty of space, we wonder about a driver that towers over 6 feet and what the fit might be like.

The 2016 Mazda3 equipped with automatic transmission offers standard steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Although this writer doesn’t find these much fun, it would interesting to know just how many drivers use them on a regular basis.

The 2016 Mazda3 is available in 8 colors. Our Blue Reflex Mica is a great choice and we are pleased that blue has become popular again. We also recommend the Snowflake White Pearl and Soul Red available in the Mazda3.


MSRP: $22,545; total vehicle price $23,435; destination $895
Engine: SKYACTIV 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder, 155 hp., 150 lb-ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
Height: 57.3 in.
Weight: 2,869 lbs.
Length: 180.3 in.
Width: 70.7 in.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gal.
Classification: compact-small car
Tires: P205/60R all-season
Wheels: 16-inch alloy
City / Hwy / Combined EPA Fuel economy: 33/29 mpg.
Warranty: Roadside Assistance; New Vehicle Limited Warranty 3 yr./36,000-miles; Powertrain 5 yr./60,000-miles; mileage corrosion 5 yr./unlimited