2016 Mazda MAZDA3 Review

The Car Connection Expert Rating Breakdown?

8.4
on a scale of 1 to 10
Styling
9.0
Expert Rating
Performance
8.0
Expert Rating
Comfort & Quality
7.0
Expert Rating
Safety
9.0
Expert Rating
Features
9.0
Expert Rating
Fuel Economy
8.0
Expert Rating
Consumer Reviews
7 Reviews
2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
April 26, 2016

The 2016 Mazda 3 is one of the best-driving and best-looking small cars, with a more premium feel than its (now even lower) price might suggest.

Whether you're talking about the hatchback or sedan, the design, or the experience in the driver's seat, the 2016 Mazda 3 remains one of the most distinctive cars in the compact-car class.

While it might not grab as much attention as offerings from some larger brands, the Mazda 3 has a compelling combination of efficient engines, design flair, safety, value, and driving precision should earn it a place on almost every shopper's small-car list.

The Mazda 3 has its primary appeal in driving fun. Even though it's not the quickest, most powerful car in its class, the 3 is one of just a handful of driver's cars in the segment along with the Ford Focus and the VW Golf. You'll get satisfying performance whether you get the 155-horsepower, 2.0-liter inline-4 or the 184-hp, 2.5-liter version, or whether you opt for the 6-speed automatic or the 6-speed manual gearbox. In any combination, they bring satisfying performance and better responsiveness than most compact cars.

Review continues below

Most aspects of the driving experience are very satisfying—the 3 is far more athletic than your typical compact car. We find the suspension and dynamics to be excellent in tight hairpins, although the steering doesn't feel as stable on-center in highway driving, and a lot of ride harshness (and noise) still makes its way into the cabin compared to other cars in this class.

The Mazda 3 is a standout in terms of styling and design, and its long hood and "cab-back" design really cast it in a different light compared to most other compact cars. A sweeping shoulder line slows gracefully along the body side, and a more slanted, fastback roofline on the hatchback ends in what we see as a somewhat softer, less distinctive rear-end treatment. At its best, this combination of the aggressive front grille, crisp edges, gentle curves, and hunkered-back cabin altogether makes the car look taut and sports-car influenced. At its worst, the Mazda 3 looks a little long-hooded—as if the hood of the Mazda 6 sedan had been grafted to the front of the smaller car.

The svelte, almost sexy proportions of the new Mazda 3 somewhat compromise its interior space. The front-seat area is spacious,and seats are supportive. Adult-size rear riders will find themselves pushed up against the headliner. In general, cabin trims and materials have improved, but there are still some cheap bits.

Mazda has also made big strides in the 3's infotainment offerings. The Mazda Connect system uses a large, colorful, high-contrast touchscreen that sits atop the dash (some might see it as looking like an aftermarket offering, but we like how it's up in the field of vision). Unlike the system in the larger Mazda 6 sedan and CX-5 crossover, with its laggy response, this system is quick with relatively easy-to-navigate menus that can be selected with the touchscreen or with the rotary Command Controller.

The latest Mazda 3 has been named an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, and all models are fitted with six airbags: front and side bags for each front-seat passenger, and side-curtain bags stretching the full length of the cabin. There also are several systems that use a combination of camera and radar-based sensing to assist and alert the driver in potentially hazardous situations. Grouped together under the name i-ActivSense, they include adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning alert, and headlights that switch automatically between low and high beams. There's also a forward-collision warning system, which alerts drivers if the car is closing too quickly on an obstacle directly ahead. Mazda says that system operates at speeds from 9 to 92 mph. Finally, there's a new automatic emergency braking system, which monitors closing distances and will prepare the brakes and alert the driver if a collision appears imminent at speeds up to 19 mph.

Mazda improved the equipment in the Mazda 3, and it's done that again for 2016, with more features and a somewhat lower price in base form. It's offered in base SV, Sport, Touring, and Grand Touring models, with things like perforated leather upholstery, adaptive front lighting, and moonroof reserved for the top Grand Touring. All models now come with a rearview camera system, and two new packages allow you to add popular equipment to the Sport and Touring models, respectively.

Also available in the Grand Touring as part of the Tech Package is the i-ELOOP system, which uses a special system of an alternator feeding a supercapacitor that harvests electricity during deceleration and braking and uses it to power the car's electrical components. It makes only a small difference in EPA fuel economy, but could have bigger effects for someone who frequently drives in stop-and-go traffic.

We've seen some great overall mileage figures with the Mazda 3. Even with the 2.5-liter engine, relaxed daily commuting conditions should let you easily top 30 mpg.

Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

7 Reviews
5 star
71%
4 star
29%
3 star
2 star
1 star
Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
October 7, 2016
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 5-Door HB Manual i Touring

Sporty looking but slow off the mark

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
This is a seriously good looking car but sporty looks belie what's going on under the bonnet. Even though it's got 2 litres to go at, it's desperate for a turbo. Having said that it will pull away in an... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
April 24, 2016
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 5-Door HB Automatic s Grand Touring

Half of an M3 for one third the price

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
My 2016 Mazda3 HB is a solid, comfortable, small car that gets better the more enthusiastically is it driven. It's really a 4-dr coupe as there's not a lot of rear seat/leg room. It's agile in town with good... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
January 25, 2016
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 4-Door Sedan Automatic i Grand Touring

Very Great and Sweet Ride :)

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
I love the Mazda 3 Sedan because when i was buying the car my main objective was Affordability , Stylish , Navigation System and Fuel Economy. So Far I Love it . If you see fuel consumption at 9.5/100 Litres... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
January 11, 2016
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 5-Door HB Automatic s Grand Touring

What an amazing car. I couldn't be happier

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
What a great car; The engine is responsive and the drive quality is fantastic. Sport mode absolutely lives up to its name, and you can engage it while in the manual shifting mode of the car. The active radar... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
December 12, 2015
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 5-Door HB Automatic i Touring

Affordable,Stylish Automobile

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
The Mazda has a smooth,comfortable ride,with adequate leg room space in front and back. The hatchback has a good size cargo area to meet most needs of storage space,etc. Reasonably priced,affordable for a... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
August 23, 2015
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 5-Door HB Automatic i Touring

A Great Mazda for the Family

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
It has a great body with wonderful interior. It has features found in luxury cars. Our unit is made in Japan so the quality is good. It even has a comfortable ride and the 1.5 liter engine is very capable. The... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
August 13, 2015
2016 Mazda MAZDA3 4-Door Sedan Automatic s Touring

Excelent car, fullfil all requirements

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Everything excelent! Real superb handling, real enjoy driving! Very nice features. A premium car with normal price.
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Compare the 2016 Mazda MAZDA3 against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Mazda MAZDA3?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used