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2015 Mazda MAZDA3

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2015 Mazda MAZDA3 Expert Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 9.2

Mazda reinvented its compact sedan and hatchback last year, and thanks to fresh design, new engine innovations, and class-exclusive technology and safety features, the Mazda3 became a formidable rival to competitors such as the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus. In addition to offering up to 41 mpg, the 2015 Mazda3 is among the most nimble and fun-to-drive cars in its class. The Mazda3 returns with beefed-up versions of its impressive telematics system and the availability of a manual transmission for its larger 4-cylinder engine, but you'll have to keep holding your breath for a performance-oriented Mazdaspeed version. While not as roomy or comfortable as a Nissan Sentra or Chevrolet Cruze, the Mazda3 offers a refined ride and high value.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're seeking a compact sedan or hatchback with fun driving manners, great fuel economy, and class-above looks and features, the Mazda3 is an excellent choice. That Mazda's compact car starts under $18,000 and retains its value very well is icing on the cake.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If roominess and comfort are priorities, you may be happier in a Chevy Cruze or Nissan Sentra. Buyers needing all-wheel drive should look to a Subaru Impreza, while alt-fuel fans should check out the Honda Civic (available in hybrid or compressed natural gas form) or Volkswagen Jetta (diesel or hybrid).

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 9.2
  • 9.4
  • 8.8
  • 9.4
  • 9.0
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#6

out of 21

Fuel Economy

#5

out of 21

Horsepower
View all rankings

Consumer Rating

8.9 out of 10
View all
consumer ratings
2015 Mazda MAZDA3 Low/wide front photo What's New for 2015

The slick Mazda Connect infotainment system with a 7-inch screen is now standard on all but the base 2015 Mazda3 sedan. Making way for the new tech, the CD player is dropped as standard equipment in lower models. A manual transmission is now offered with the larger 2.5-liter engine.

Driving the MAZDA3
2015 Mazda MAZDA3 Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

The 2015 Mazda3 is both fun and fuel-efficient, thanks to Mazda's Skyactiv chassis and powertrain technology. With its enthusiastic engines and satisfying steering and brake feel, the Mazda3 is sportier...

... than nearly all its rivals. More impressive, though, is that this 5-passenger compact sedan and hatchback don't compromise ride quality or fuel efficiency for the sake of performance. The Mazda3 is satisfying to throw into corners, yet still compliant on the highway. The 6-speed automatic transmission is eager to downshift, and the 6-speed manual is rewarding to use. Drivers desiring extra oomph can get it in Mazda3 "s" versions, which have a 184-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that offers 29 more horsepower than the standard 2.0. Driving position is very good in Mazda's compact car, and controls are easy to use. Visibility is also good, and the available blind-spot monitoring system is a surprising and assuring feature in this class of car.

MAZDA CONNECT INFOTAINMENT SYSTEM
Dash-mounted LCD screens with a rotary dial control below have been in luxury cars for years, but now one is in Mazda's compact car. The system that controls audio, phone, apps and more is easy to learn and use, and for 2015, it's standard in all but base Mazda3 sedans.

ADVANCED SAFETY FEATURES
Other features once reserved for luxury cars that are now in a Mazda3 include blind-spot monitoring and Smart City Brake Support, which can stop the car autonomously to prevent a lower-speed frontal collision if the driver doesn't apply the brakes.

2015 Mazda MAZDA3 Details
2015 Mazda MAZDA3 Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

The 2015 Mazda3's cabin isn't the roomiest in the segment, but it's among the best laid out. The well-shaped front seats keep driver and passenger snug. All models except the base sedan feature a dash-mounted 7-inch touch-screen display that is controlled by a rotary dial between the front seats. All controls are intuitive and easy to use. Rear-seat legroom falls on the low side, but there’s still room for two average-size adults, three in a pinch. All models except the base Mazda3 i SV sedan have 60/40-split folding rear seats. Mazda3 hatchbacks boast over 47 cubic feet of room with seats folded.

Exterior
2015 Mazda MAZDA3 photo

Whether as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback, the 2015 Mazda3 stands out from other compacts with its knockout styling. The versatile Mazda3 hatchback is especially noteworthy for a design that should win over those who usually don't equate hatchbacks with style. Up front, the recast grille replaces the previous “happy face” with a more distinguished character, and repositioned A-pillars improve the driver’s forward sightlines. While the base SV and 3 i Sport Sedan come with 16-inch steel wheels, the other 2.0-liter cars all feature 16-inch aluminum-alloy alternatives that move to an 18-inch upfit on the 2.5-liter 3 s models.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

2015 Mazda3 sedans are available in six trims, while the Mazda3 hatchback is available in five. The least-expensive Mazda3 is the i SV sedan, which includes air conditioning, push-button start and a 4-speaker AM/FM/USB/aux audio system. Our advice is to spend the extra $1,500 and at least step up to the i Sport, which includes the 7-inch command screen, 6-speaker audio with HD Radio and streaming services (including Pandora), Bluetooth connectivity, and cruise control. The high-end s Touring or s Grand Touring models bring the more powerful engine and faux leather seats (Touring trim) or the real thing (Grand Touring).

Optional Equipment

Most options for the 2015 Mazda3 come as you climb trims, and some are surprising in their value. The mid-grade i Touring, for example, includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and rearview camera – safety features that can cost thousands extra on luxury cars. Two technology packages are also offered, the first includes navigation, Bose premium audio with CD player, a power moonroof and dual-zone climate control. Exclusive to top-line s Grand Touring models is Mazda's i-ELOOP regenerative-braking system for better fuel efficiency, the Smart City Brake Support, radar-based cruise control, and lane-departure warning.

Under the Hood
2015 Mazda MAZDA3 Engine photo

The 2015 Mazda3 offers two engine choices, both with a Skyactiv pedigree. The i models use a 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes a healthy 155 horsepower. The 2.5-liter found in all s variants cranks out 184 horsepower. While the 2.0-liter is still a capable performer, it trades a measure of enthusiasm for better fuel-economy numbers – 41 mpg highway in the sedan and 40 mpg in the hatchback with either the 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5-liter won’t stretch a gallon of gasoline quite that far, but notably amps up the car’s sporting character, and for 2015, it is now available with a 6-speed manual transmission for drivers seeking the most engagement.

2.0-liter inline-4
155 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
150 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
Sedan: 29/41 mpg (manual), 30/41 mpg (automatic)
Hatchback: 29/40 mpg (manual), 30/40 mpg (automatic)

2.5-liter inline-4
184 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
185 lb-ft of torque @ 3,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy:
Sedan: 25/37 (manual), 28/39 mpg (automatic), 29/40 mpg (automatic w/i-Eloop)
Hatchback: 26/35 (manual), 27/37 mpg (automatic), 28/39 mpg (automatic w/i-Eloop)

While not the lowest-cost player in this intensely price-sensitive segment – that honor goes to the 2015 Kia Forte – the 2015 Mazda3 remains a solid value considering the content and character of its overall package. The base i SV Sedan starts under $17,750 and the entry-level 3 i Sport Hatchback starts below $19,750. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Mazda3 s Grand Touring Sedan and Hatchback ring in closer to $26,900 and $27,400, respectively. Adding the Technology Package's class-exclusive safety features and the i-Eloop system bumps the s Grand Touring's numbers an additional $2,600. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Mazda3. In addition to having prices that are competitive with segment leaders like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, the Mazda3's resale value also stays in step with those two.

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2015 Mazda MAZDA3 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.9
Out of 10

Based on 66 Ratings for the 2014 - 2016 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.0/10
    Quality
    9.2/10
  • Reliability
    9.4/10
    Performance
    9.2/10
  • Comfort
    8.7/10
    Styling
    9.0/10

Rented car

By on Sunday, July 17, 2016

I don't own this car

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
6/10
Styling
Not Rated
Comfort
6/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"I rented this for a week. After returning it, I would not buy it. It was ok but for me, I didnt like: 1. noisy cabin at highway speeds 2. small car, yet too many rear/side blind spots. 3. very hard to work the radio."

44,000 miles on in 18 months, and still happy

By on Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Looks great, fun to drive, great value"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"My automatic transmission 2015 Mazda 3 s Grand Touring is my 5th Mazda, my third 3 after two 6s, and I'm a committed Mazda buyer/driver. I drive a ton, and I can honestly say that the 44,000 miles to-date in 18 months (mostly highway, but lots of dense city traffic as well) have been more-or-less trouble-free with the exception of some niggling issues with the TeleMatics system requiring system re-boots. The ride is just a bit rough as befits a low-slung sporty vehicle, but not uncomfortable. Handling is superb. Pickup is best above 2000 RPM, which means acceleration for passing or emergency reaction while already in motion is excellent; only middling from a standing start. I love the display including the heads up screen on top of the dash in front of the driver. The combo bluetooth hands-free voice recognition phone, and navigation and audio systems' functionality take some getting used to, but then are a breeze. Remote start works but takes a lot of getting used to operationally; could be simpler, I imagine. Safety is a big deal for me; my 2014 identical model was T-boned at full speed on the driver side by an SUV; my side, head and front airbags deployed in a nano-second, and as my phone went flying while my car was doing a full 180, the impact automatically triggered a call to 911 via bluetooth (I had programmed it so, thankfully). I was able to talk to EMS without moving a muscle from under the airbags. I walked away shaken but unscathed even though the car was totaled. I immediately ordered the identical model in the 2015 model year. The car looks great; I got lots of compliments before the 2014-2016 Mazda 3s became more commonplace on the roads (early-on when I had the 2014 -- the first of this current model re-design -- some people regularly mistook it for a luxury vehicle). Good value for the money."

7 people out of 7 found this review helpful

2015 3 Hatchback, s Grand Touring trim, auto trans

By on Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,037

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "FUN Factor, engine, handling, ergonomics, quality"

Cons: "Not the quietest re road noise. Not the cheapest."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"We bought this car new in early Jan. 2015. Read all the car mag reviews, Test drove the Accord, Civic & others 1st. Our "3-GT" is used daily to & from work, etc. To date: No problems whatsoever! Car still looks & feels like the day we bought it. Getting great mileage in spite of the fact that this car is SO much FUN to drive! Highway cruises at 80 mph easily; Completely at ease & stable w car not feeling pushed/strained. Superior handling, a really, really, spunky engine that loves to go.The car feels faster 0-60 than the specs indicate. Sitting in front, car just fits so well, never feels cramped. Lots of high tech, great ergonomics. Only complaints are the Mrs. insisted on getting auto trans. & car isn't the quietest re road noise. LOVE this car. Hatchback is roomy, very versatile. When my Acura dies, this then current "3" hatchback & the Miata, both (w manual trans) will be on my top 5 list of cars to check out. For this price range, this car is so close to perfect! I've been so impressed w this car & Mazda. (This is our 1st. Mazda) If you can, spend a few bucks more & get the Grand Touring.. it's worth it! Hate sounding like a commercial but I'm rarely this impressed about any new purchase."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

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