The Mazda3 is powered by a choice of two different 4-cylinder engines, corresponding to the two quite different 3i and 3s models. Base Mazda3 i models feature an economical 2.0-liter engine making 148 horsepower, while sportier Mazda3 s models get a 167-hp, 2.5-liter engine. Both engines make slightly less power in California-emissions states. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on i models, but sporty s models step up to a 6-speed manual; a 5-speed automatic is available with either engine. The 2.0-liter gets quite good fuel economy figures of 24 mpg city, 33 highway with the manual transmission, while the s model is rated just 21/29.
The Mazda3 is offered in two body styles--a 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback. The sedan is offered in 3i or 3s variants, in a full range of trims, but the hatchback is only offered in 3s form, and only in the most expensive trims.
The Mazda3 gets an even more aggressively styled front end than before, with styling cues borrowed from the RX-8 sports car and a more wedge-shaped silhouette. Yet the overall profile of the Mazda3 is more aerodynamic, with a coefficient of drag now as low as 0.29.
Inside, the focus is on top-rate materials--like leather upholstery, French-stitched seams, and soft-touch surfaces--and more design flair than nearly every other small car. The Mazda3's cabin has a sliding armrest between the front seats, atop a center-console storage bin, along with pewter-painted trim. Seats are more aggressively bolstered than is typical among affordable small cars, but sport-seat upper bolsters are optional for those wanting even more support in cornering.
The Mazda3 is one of the best-handling small cars, with front struts and rear monotube dampers, along with a multi-link setup in back that's configured for handling stability. s models get big 17-inch wheels with V-rated tires, and across the line the rack-and-pinion steering has speed-dependent power assist and is one of the most tight and direct in feel. Both models also get 4-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock and brake assist. Front side airbags and side-curtain airbags are on the standard-equipment list, along with active head restraints. Electronic stability control is offered on top trims but isn't available throughout the model line.
As a sedan, the Mazda3 i is offered in SV, Sport, and Touring trims, and the 3s is offered as a Sport or Grand Touring. Base SV models come with power windows, tilt/telescopic steering-wheel adjustment, and a 4-speaker CD/MP3 sound system, but air conditioning isn't available. Sport models add A/C, while Touring trims add alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cruise control, and a 6-speaker sound system, plus added trim and interior appointments. Top Grand Touring bring leather heated seats, LED taillamps and an Adaptive Front Lighting System, which can swivel the lights up to 15 degrees to help illuminate around corners; the system also includes self-leveling bi-xenon lamps.
Monochrome multi-info display (MID) -inc: driver info system w/outside temp display, trip computer, maintenance reminder, audio info
Outside temp display
Warning lamps -inc: brake system, high-beam on, turn signals on, hazard warning on, check engine, engine oil pressure, battery charge, defogger-on, air bags, front seat belt pretensioner system, door-ajar, low fuel, ABS system, cruise control on, tire pressure monitoring system
Pwr windows w/driver side 1-touch down feature
Driver illuminated window switch
Remote keyless illuminated entry w/answer back feature, panic button
Pwr door locks w/2-stage unlocking, central locking, speed & transmission sensitive auto door lock
Cruise control w/steering wheel mounted controls
Remote releases -inc: fuel door, hood, trunk
Engine immobilizer anti-theft system
Air conditioning w/pollen filter
Rear heater ducts
Rear window defogger
Front side window demisters
Illuminated glove box
Silver center console panel
Black steering wheel switch bezel
Silver driver & passenger side decoration panels & door handles
Cloth door trim w/front/rear bottle holders, front storage pockets