Zipping around town in a 2016 Mazda 3

I’ve had a chance to enjoy another new car this week, a “soul red” 2016 Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring. With a base price of $26,495 for the 5-door sport edition, the Moroney (car pricing sticker) indicates that the total MSRP of this vehicle as configured was $30,270. And it’s a nice, pleasantly sporty car for the money, a car that has a lot of very modern features and capabilities built around its traditional gas-powered engine.

The Sports edition features a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine with Skyactiv 6 speed sport mode and a surprisingly peppy 184 horsepowers. It’s rated to get 37mpg highway and 27 mpg city and I found my average was on target for what the EPA suggests, clocking in at just a bit under 30mpg.

More importantly, the Mazda 3 is a very attractive car, as highlighted in this shot:

2016 mazda 3 sport GT

Much credit for the sport wheels too — part of the sport package — with their slim profile, high traction tires. Made driving on curves a lot of fun and slimmer tires also directly translates into more “road feeling”, something that’s definitely important for when you want to really hit the road a bit more aggressively.

Here’s a different angle that lets you see the front styling:

2016 mazda 3 sport GT, front angle view

In person, the hood seems a bit long for the body size from a classical car design perspective, but that could be because I’m an old school driver too. Nothing awkward, as you can see, but it feels a bit like they took a sedan and stretched the front to get space for a sportier engine and necessary gear.

The interior of the car is classic modern Mazda, a design I quite like, having driven other Mazda cars in the recent past (for example, see my review of the 2016 Mazda CX-5). The dashboard controls all end up in two main areas, one along the center of the vehicle, the other wrapped around the steering wheel:

2016 mazda 3 sport gt interior dashboard

As with so many modern cars, the steering wheel has buttons. Lots of buttons. Look in the photo above, you can see that just on the left side of the steering wheel itself are channel, volume and source controls, and buttons that let you work with the (slick) hands-free bluetooth cellphone subsystem. It works but it takes a bit of getting used to and I expect some owners have never spent the time to study exactly what every button does.

Once the car is running, there’s a neat little plastic heads-up display that pops up to offer a view of the current speed, as shown in this stunt photo (because I’d never actually take a photo while I was driving, of course):

2016 mazda 3 heads up / pop up speed mph display

While the Mazda 3 is a four seater (well, five: I got three in the back seat and there were seatbelts for them all) truth is that one limitation I found with the car was that if either the driver or the front passenger is tall, moving the seat back is going to have the very negative consequence of axing almost all the legroom for the back passenger, as shown in this photo:

legroom in the 2016 mazda 3

Fortunately my littlest one is happy to sit at an angle or cross her legs. But for four adults? The people in the front would definitely have to keep the rear passengers in mind when they adjusted their seats.

It’s the attention to detail that I really appreciate in the very latest generation of cars too, and Mazda’s great at making sure it’s ready for the modern plugged-in family. Inside the armrest between the driver and passenger seats, for example, is this handy set of power and connectivity options:

2016 mazda 3 plugs and connections in arm rest

Yes, you can pop in an SDcard full of music and enjoy it, and both of the USB plugs are stereo aware, so plug in your smartphone and it’ll show up as an option on the stereo system, ready to go with no fuss. You can also use an AUX plug if you’re old school and the “12V120W” power is what in the old days people would call a cigarette lighter.

The key itself is also nicely streamlined and can happily sit in your pocket or purse without ever needing to be pulled out to open or start the car:

mazda 3 key fob

Again, simple, elegant, and comfortable in your hand.

My children and I quite liked the 2016 Mazda 3 with its GT package and sport options. From the slick navigational GPS system to XM Radio to easy Bluetooth pairing of multiple phones, it all worked well together and was fun to drive. My biggest complaints are related to my height. At almost 6’3″ it felt a bit small for me, which was particularly obvious when I got in and out of the car. Once everything was adjusted, however, I liked it!

Disclaimer: Mazda arranged for me to have a 7 day loaner of the Mazda 3 without charge. Which was very nice of ’em!


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