Mazda’s littlest five-seater looks like an anime gremlin “wearing an I’ve-been-naughty grin.” Two editions are offered—the entry-level 3i and the 3s with a bigger engine and “beefier brakes.” The standard six-speed now delivers 24 mpg city and 33 highway. This “fully loaded” economy sedan comes with bi-xenon headlights, dual-zone climate control, a 10-speaker Bose sound system, and heated seats.
While we like the dramatic new exterior styling, the Mazda 3’s redesigned interior is its “weak point.” New seating offers “more butt and back support,” but overly hard touch points on the doors and center console “rubbed our bony knees raw.” When the navigation screen is pointed to the driver, passengers cannot see readouts on “directions, temperatures,” air-conditioning modes, or radio frequencies.
Car and Driver
The all-new Mazda 3 is obviously “both captivating and polarizing.” Six-footers can’t fit comfortably into the rear seats, and most drivers will find the optional 2.5-liter engine “louder and coarser than the smaller engine.” Tire and road noise can also be distracting. Yet few compacts can match the 3’s “refinement and solidity” as it rolls down the asphalt, and the dashboard at least avoids the “spaceship-console look of, say, the Honda Civic.”