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. There are a several annoyances, listed below, but with one exception they are relatively minor. 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 re-enable them. 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, especially in daylight driving, since it is 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, unfortunately it cannot be decoupled from the cross-traffic alert, a most desirable feature. The solution is to wait until you have backed out of your garage or a parking lot space before disabling the BSM. Now for the biggie. 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. As an example, suppose I fill up when the range gauge indicates 50 miles remaining. This is equivalent to 2 gallons of gas. The pump will typically shut off after it has injected 9 gallons, thereby accounting for a total of 11 gallons. So where have the missing 2 gallons gone? I have tried to get the answer from dealers, with no success. They claim that no one else has complained about the range. I contacted Mazda with no success. They even sent me an email asking me if I was satisfied with my experience, and never replied to my response. No doubt a number of Mazda competitors have some of the same negatives. In any event, if I had it to do again I would still buy the Mazda 3s. The driving experience is unparalleled.
I was scared to go from a BMW to a Mazda but something pulled me to this car rather than buying yet another BMW. Seriously this car has everything you want in a car but more. It has a luxury badass look outside and in. It has blindspot monitoring, a backup camera, even has voice commands. When I drive this car I feel like a million bucks, I drive fast knowing I'm not wasting as much gas as anyone else is. Plus with gas at almost 3.00 i only pay $19 to fill up. This was my first new car and I was scared [non-permissible content removed], but having it now for 7 months, I love everything about it