Here’s our latest review – the 2015 Mazda3 five door. While it’s main rival, the VW Golf has received overwhelming praise from the automotive media, how does the Mazda3 stack up?
Other markets like Europe and Japan offer plenty of fun hatchbacks to choose from, but here in the U.S. the hatchback has a negative stigma and many buyers sadly prefer a sedan over the more versatile hatchback. Fortunately a few automakers still offer them here, like Volkswagen and Mazda. The latest VW Golf has received overwhelming praise from the automotive media, but how does one of its main rivals, the Mazda3 stack up?
Now in its third-generation, the Mazda continues to offer the Mazda3 in sedan and hatchback body styles. We tested the base Mazda3 sedan a year ago and now I managed to grab the keys to a top-spec Mazda hatchback. In the compact segment I usually prefer a hatchback layout, simply because of its added versatility and here that definitely is the case. The Mazda3 sedan is one of the most handsome models in its segment, but the hatchback’s curvaceous lines make it look like a class above. Its long hood, dramatic fender lines and low roofline give it a “sexy” sportier look than those dorky hatchbacks from the past.
Inside the Mazda3’s interior is a bit snug compared to the Golf, but the way the seats and dash seem to hug you as you get into the driver seat, makes it feel like more of a driver’s car. Overall the interior styling isn’t as aggressive or stylish as the exterior, but it is still attractive. High quality materials and tech goodies like the head-up display make the Mazda feel more expensive than it actually is.
What’s the best part about the Mazda3 besides its stylish exterior? The way it handles and the power from the 2.5L engine. Since the Mazda3 was introduced in the early 2000’s, it’s always been known for being a great handling compact car. That same attribute is still there with its well balanced suspension that gives you more confidence when the road gets twisty compared to other models in its class.
The 184-hp 2.5L four-cylinder also adds more fun. The base 2.0L won’t inspire any sporty driving, but if you opt for the 2.5L you won’t be disappointed. The 2.5L is powerful and sounds great, especially if you decide to shift your own gears with the six-speed manual. There’s only one drawback with the 2.5L – it’s not as fuel efficient as the smaller 2.0L. The manual tester I had was rated at 26/35 mpg, while the 2.0L with a manual is rated better at 29/40. During my week with the car I averaged 26 mpg. The automatic 2.5L is rated at 27/37 or 28/39 mpg with the i-ELOOP system.
At the conclusion of my time with the Mazda3 five-door I was impressed with its aggressive styling, the powerful 2.5L four-cylinder and the precise six-speed manual. While its styling is definitely more interesting to look at than the Golf, you’ll pay a price in terms of interior room. The Mazda3’s interior, especially the back seat is bit tighter than you’d expect. But even with its tighter interior, the Mazda3 sedan and five-door are one of the best models in the compact segment.
2015 Mazda3 s Grand Touring Five-Door:
Base Price: $25,545
Price as Tested: $28,115
Pros: Aggressive exterior, fun 2.5L four-cylinder, fun to drive
Cons: Interior is a tad boring, tight back seat, VW Golf has more cargo space