2009 Mazda3 New Car Test Drive
The Mazda 3 is space-efficient and exciting to drive, practical and economical, and it's available with a surprising list of comfort and luxury features.
The Mazda 3, or Mazda3, was developed on three continents, by Mazda, Volvo, and Ford, and Mazda did all the final tuning at its test track in Japan.
This is a premium automobile, exciting to drive, styled adventurously, and fully equipped with luxury features. There's nothing austere, basic or cheap about it. The seats are supportive and comfortable, good for long drives.
Sedan and hatchback versions look quite different. The sedan has the traditional appearance of a four-door, five-passenger car. The five-door hatchback is like the high-fashion station wagons from European manufacturers, offering the practicality of the five-door configuration with an emphasis on a premium driving experience. The Mazda3 is a good choice for drivers who have friends or lots of stuff: The sedan and hatchback excel at back-seat roominess when compared with the Honda Civic and other competition, and the hatchback excels at cargo space.
There's a high-performance version called Mazdaspeed3, motivated by 263 turbocharged horsepower.
The Mazda3 was launched as a 2004 model, then extensively updated and upgraded for 2007, with a revised appearance inside and out. The 2009 (and mid-2008) models get feature upgrades. The interiors are freshened, with piano black rather than woodgrain trim (with increasing amounts of it on higher-line models). Grand Touring models got a standard eight-way power driver's seat. The Mazda 3i Touring comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a CD player, and a color-keyed grille.
An all-new Mazda 3 is expected for the 2010 model year.
All 2009 Mazda 3 models come standard with ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, side-impact airbags, and side air curtains.
All Mazdas come with a roadside assistance program, which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, throughout the United States and Canada.
The Mazda3 comes in a broad array of body styles, engines, and trim levels. The Mazda 3i is powered by a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine; the Mazda 3s packs a 156-hp, 2.3-liter four-cylinder. The Mazda 3i is available only as a four-door sedan, whereas the Mazda3s comes as a sedan and five-door hatchback. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on all models; a four-speed automatic is optional ($900) on 3i, while 3s offers a five-speed automatic ($950).
The base-level Mazda3i Sport ($14,490) comes with manual windows and door locks. It has a tachometer, a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, a tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with automatic level control and an iPod-friendly input jack. New for 2009 is a remote trunk release. All-season 195/65HR15 tires mount on steel wheels. Air conditioning is optional ($880) and includes an outside temperature display.
Mazda3i Touring Value ($16,895) adds air conditioning, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control, power-adjustable outside mirrors, height-adjustable driver's seat, and an upgraded six-speaker audio system. For 2009, fog lights, a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel (with cruise and audio controls), and a color-keyed grille bar are also standard, along with 205/50VR17 tires on 17-inch alloy rims.
Mazda3s Sport sedan ($17,835) upgrades to the larger engine and to more deluxe upholstery and trim, inside and out. It also adds electroluminescent gauges, lighted vanity mirrors, and variable-intermittent wipers. Tires oddly downsize to 205/55HR16 on 16-inch alloy wheels. The 3s Sport hatchback ($18,325) is similarly equipped, plus a rear wiper, cargo management system, side-sill extensions, and a roof-top spoiler and aerodynamic antenna; it keeps the Value model’s 17-inch rims.
Mazda3s Touring sedan and hatchback share a price ($18,825) and add electronic stability control and traction control. Also, the sedan gets the same side-sill extensions and 17-inch wheels and tires as the hatchback.
Mazda3s Grand Touring sedan and hatchback ($20,595) add leather seating, synthetic leather door inners, heated front seats with eight-way power adjustment for the driver, HID headlights with automatic on/off, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic climate control, a trip computer, clear-lens LED taillights, and a theft-deterrent system.
Options include a power glass sunroof bundled with a 6CD changer ($890) on all but 3i Sport; on Grand Touring models the package also includes a Bose sound system and costs more ($1335). Grand Touring models offer Navigation bundled with Sirius Satellite Radio ($1950). A long list of extras, including the CD changer ($500) and Sirius radio ($430), can also be installed as dealer accessories.
The Mazdaspeed3 Sport hatchback ($22,740) comes with a 263-hp turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-4, six-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential, sport seats with unique red-and-black cloth interior trim, aluminum pedals, automatic climate control, appropriately stiffer suspension tuning, and 215/45YR18 summer tires. Otherwise it is equipped similarly to the Touring models. A Grand Touring version ($24,455) adds leather interior, Bose premium audio with in-dash 6CD changer, rain-sensing wipers, trip computer, high-intensity headlights, LED taillights, and theft deterrence. The only significant factory option is the navigation/Sirius package ($1950), although again, dealer-installed accessories are available.
Safety features that come on all Mazda3 models include front airbags, seat-mounted side-impact airbags, side air curtains, an energy-absorbing brake pedal, and a tire-pressure monitor. Anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist are now standard on all models as well. Electronic stability control and traction control are standard on 3s Touring and Grand Touring.