I have previously owned 3 Mazda cars, just sold a 2013 Civic Si. What I really needed was a commuter car, and always liked the previous Mazda3, so I decided to try a new one. It's great. Comfortable on long drives, has a very nice stereo system in the GT (HD radio and XM). The GT has the Active driving display (HUD) which I really like. I'm not a big fan of the basic-basic dash layout, but the dash mounted infotainment screen gives you a lot of info (HD traffic, Nav, Text SMS, etc.,) The HUD also gives you Nav directions. Car does not perform like a Miata, but it is no slouch either. I think that with better tires, you could get some better corner speeds. I love manual transmissions (and one is available), but I get have heavy traffic, and my wife can't drive stick. The shiftable automatic is great. Fuel mileage is very good for the size car it is and uses regular gas. If you are looking for a good all around car the 3 is a great choice; however, I wouldn't suggest that you don't skimp and get the bargain basement car hoping to upgrade parts later. Some people who bought lower trim car were unhappy with what they got. I love the GT. UPDATE: 04/26 6,500 miles. I still love the car (don't miss the Civic at all). 33mpg in mixed driving (and not going slow). Everything above is still true. Result? I don't like XM, I like Pandora instead. The shiftable auto is good, but it will not shift up if you leave it in manual-only mode (well duh). The problem is that unlike a manual trans, you can't always tell what gear you're in by putting your hand on the shifter and when moving through traffic, I will lose count - and be in the wrong gear. Using the paddle shifter negates this. Problem solved. I just got an iphone 6s and the bluetooth on it does not connect as reliably as my iphone 5s. Trunk has more room than I anticipates and it's just a very easy car to live with. If only I could afford more than one Mazda at a time. Update 10/29/16: All of the above is still true. My wife has an Accord, and I think that the 3 is just as good as the Accord (and the Accord has the CVT transmission which I don't like).
I was hit in the middle of the passenger side by a driver who ran a stop sign, hard enough that I spun 180 degrees and she continued on to hit a house across the street. I estimate she was doing 35-40 mph on a residential street and she never even touched her brakes. The Mazda3 was amazing. 2 days later I have a bruise where the seatbelt crossed my lap and another on my back where I'm assuming the seat supports pressed into me. That's it. No stiffness or soreness, no other injuries. The wreck honestly felt smoother than a bumpy roller coaster ride, although not nearly as fun. And when the air bags deployed, the car used my phone over the Bluetooth connection and called 911 automatically. I really liked my car. It handled well, was comfortable, fun to drive, attractive, and priced right. If the insurance totals mine out, I will be purchasing another Mazda3.
I stopped buying Japanese cars a while ago. Despite the benefits of reliability and fuel efficiency, the Civic, Corolla and Prius were not fun for me to drive. I then tried a BMW 3 series which was a blast to drive but broke down too much and was expensive to fix. The Passat seemed like a good compromise but still had reliability issues and was expensive at the pump.
Why am I telling you all of this? The Mazda 3 grand touring Sedan checks all the boxes for me. It's fun to drive (more so in the city than on the highway) It has a great infotainment system (Bose) and the interior reminded me a lot of the Audi A3 that I was testing (for $10k + more). The interior feels upscale, the acceleration is good and the handing is excellent. It feels much like my Miata from the 90's.
My one concern is that I am not getting the advertised MPG which is one of the reasons for choosing this car. I am getting a combined of 28 MPG with modest driving. I had expected more like 33 MPG. The dealer says MPG will improve after 5000 miles (I'm only at 750). That seems like a long break-in time. Has anyone else experienced this?
Overall, it's a great car.
The 3s Grand Touring was an easy choice. It rides and handles beautifully. The steering is quick and precise, and the driver's seat is very comfortable. The transmission shifts are crisp, and are very responsive to accelerator pressure. In addition, the audio system is the best I have experienced, no doubt because of the Bose speakers. When stopped temporarily on a hill, you have 2 seconds to move your foot from brake to accelerator before the car begins to roll. The headlights, taking their cue from the steering wheel, swivel to point in the direction you will be going, rather than where the car is pointing.
There are, however, a number of annoyances. The electronics (with the exception of closing the driver's window) are disabled when the ignition is turned off. It requires a separate operation to restore the audio. Three distinct operations are needed to select a station, instead of, for example, simply switching between a pair of AM and FM stations. I would have appreciated all four windows, not just the driver's window, operating with one touch. The numbers on the dash cannot be read in sunlight when wearing sunglasses. The blind spot monitoring is mostly an annoyance, forever warning me not to change lanes while I am doing so safely. The reason is that it only measures distance, and has no knowledge of relative speed. While the BSM feature can be disabled, it cannot be decoupled from the cross-traffic alert, a most desirable feature. To deal with this problem, I have attached a pair of blind-spot mirrors to the side-view mirrors, and rely on this combination to make my decisions. While I am satisfied with the 25 mpg (in primarily city driving), the range is a big disappointment. The manual says that the car has a 13.2 gallon tank; however, it functions as if it had only an 11-gallon tank. Both the gas gauge (an inconsistent discrete device) and the range indicator show no miles left when only 11 gallons are required to fill the tank. So I get no more than 225 miles from a tank of gas. I would much prefer the old needle, which was a true indicator of the gas remaining in the tank.
Despite these complaints, I would buy the Mazda 3 again, because it is a pleasure to drive.
I have always knew I would end up getting a Mazda3. I went from a 2003 Audi A4 1.8T Quattro that I purchased brand new, to this 2016 Mazda3 2.0. Other than losing all wheel drive and the peppiness of my modified Audi, this automobile is quite an upgrade for me. First off, there is instant power to the wheels, instead of waiting for the turbo to kick in at 3k RPMs. The cabin interior is quite nice, even though I went from leather to cloth. I at first scoffed the side impact avoidance system I went along with, but it actually helps with the slight blind spots this car has; however, the side impact indicators stay on a little too long after I am well past the mouth breather lingering in the passing lane... The entertainment system/Bluetooth connectivity is great and the sound is as well, even though I didn't go with the Bose premium sound. A little weird not having a CD player, but I guess they are a little dated now anyways. As I mentioned the Bluetooth connectivity is a no brainer, so no CD player needed at all for someone with an iPhone/Droid/or any other Bluetooth enabled device. The ride is smooth and handles corners extremely well, as well as the plethora of potholes the wonderful D.C. area has to offer. Speaking of potholes... I took this to New York and this Mazda3 handled their potholes as well like a champ. Overall, I am happy with this purchase, but a little dismayed at how much it would cost just to get the SD card for the GPS. I'll just stick with my cellphone.