Back in December, I had the chance to evaluate the new Mazda3 five-door. This week, I’ve been behind the wheel of a four-door Mazda3 equipped with manual transmission.

The Mazda3 is not only the best-selling model in the Mazda lineup, it’s also one of the best-selling compacts in the world.

And for good reason.

With a base price starting at $17,845, the 2016 Mazda3 includes several new features.

Available in four-door and five-door body styles, the five-passenger, front-wheel drive Mazda3 is available with two engines, designated by an “i” or an “s” in the trim levels. For 2016, the Mazda3 is available in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim levels.

All Mazda3 “i” models are powered by a 2.0-liter I-4 engine delivering 155 horsepower and 150 lbs.-ft. torque. Mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, “i” models have an EPA fuel economy rating of 30 mpg city, 41 mpg highway for four-door models equipped with automatic transmission (30 mpg, 40 mpg respectively for five-door).

A 2.5-liter I-4 delivering 184 horsepower/185 lbs.-ft. torque powers all “s” models. Also mated to a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 28 mpg city, 39 mpg highway for four-door models equipped with automatic transmission (27 mpg, 37 mpg respectively for five-door).

Both engines require regular unleaded gasoline.

In addition to several new equipment packages, the 2016 Mazda3 includes a standard rearview camera on all models, auto on/off headlights and rain-sensing wipers on Touring and Grand Touring models, auto-dimming interior mirror, and a power moonroof on Touring models.

The Mazda3 i Sport also includes power windows with a driver-side one-touch up/down feature, power door locks, 16-inch wheels, dual-power folding exterior mirrors, tilt and telescoping adjustable steering wheel, air conditioning with pollen air filter, MAZDA CONNECT six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth phone pairing and audio streaming, push button start, and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat.

The list of features grows longer as you move up the trim level ladder.

With a top five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a “Top Safety Pick+” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Mazda3 includes a full suite of Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE advanced safety technologies.

I absolutely love the ride and handling of the Mazda3 — it is extremely responsive, corners with confidence and during my drive time in the city, it was nimble as a cat — extremely easy to maneuver in crowded parking lots and tight spaces.

I also appreciated its ample cargo space. The five-door I happened to drive in December featured 20.2 cubic feet of cargo area behind the rear seat (47.1 cubic feet with the rear seat folded flat). The four-door Mazda3 features 12.4 cubic feet of trunk room.

The 2016 Mazda3 is a must for the test drive list.


Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association.