Review: 2016 Mazda3 S 5-Door Grand Touring

It seems when we put together a list of compact cars the Mazda3 doesn’t immediately come to mind. It usually makes the bottom of the list; however, every time we see one we are struck by what a good looking sporty little car it is, especially the 5-door. After spending a week with a 2016 Mazda3 S 5-Door Grand Touring, we are pretty sure the Mazda3 likely find its way near to the top of the list.

The Mazda3 S trim level features a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that sends 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. A lesser I trim level comes standard with a 2.0-liter good for 155 horsepower. While the horsepower totals for the 2.5-liter are respectable for a compact sedan/wagon, what really makes it stand out is its styling.

Lines and creases flow along the Mazda3 giving it the feeling of movement and speed. The sportiness is communicated in a graceful way, more like a sprinter than a muscular brute. The 5-door we tested added an additional sport element any hot hatch is going to have. The Soul Red Metallic paint our test vehicle came in was like adding jalapeños to queso. Just a tad more spice for your already tasty dish.

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The interior has a no frills simplicity to it. Mazda manages to include everything you need in a package where nothing seems extraneous while nothing seems left out. It’s sophisticated, especially for a sporty compact. Controls are exactly where you expect them to be, and work just as you expect them to.

The instrument cluster is a bit unconventional with a large round tachometer in the center bookended by small but useful driver info screens on each side. The info screens are customizable with the standard info: diagnostics, fuel economy, etc. A digital speedometer is set toward the bottom of the circle that houses the tach. An adjustable heads up display puts vital information in the driver’s sight line. This is a handy addition to the cockpit, but is displayed on a cheap looking piece of plastic mounted atop the dash. We like a heads up display, just not Mazda’s execution.

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A 7” touchscreen display is the center of the Mazda3’s infotainment system. The screen is high on the dash where it can be easily and safely viewed by the driver while still visible to the front passenger. A remote knob mounted on the center console allows access to the system’s features, and is a good addition to an already easy to use system.

Analog HVAC controls are mounted toward the bottom of the center stack. They are so easy to use we wonder how many man hours went into the design to make it so.

Seating in the front and back was comfortable without being spectacular. Headroom and legroom were great for a compact vehicle. Rear storage is good, bordering on exceptional thanks to the hatchback. A full grocery run fits back there maybe even with a little room to spare.

The experience behind the wheel is as uncluttered as the design. The Mazda3 handles well with responsive steering and braking. Road conditions are communicated through the wheel and pedals in a manner that is firm enough to feel a little sporty but not at all harsh. We felt acceleration didn’t match the sporty look and solid ride of the car. Such sporty looking, easy to drive car deserves 30-40 more horses to complete the package.

The Bottom Line

The Mazda3 is a solid little car. There is plenty of storage and room for four. Any quibbles we may have with it were certainly small enough to overlook. We would be happy to have one as a daily driver. Of course, if the rumors of an imminent Mazdaspeed version are to be believed, we might be inclined to save up a little longer for the turbo.

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To see more pictures and video from this vehicle test and future tests, follow Drive My Family on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Vine (@DriveMyFamily).

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