2013 Mazda3 New Car Test Drive
The Mazda3 is a sporty alternative to the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Mazda3 comes in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback versions with a choice of engines and trim levels ranging from thrifty to sporty.
The 2013 Mazda3 benefits from upgraded options including TomTom-based navigation on a larger, 5.8-inch color touch screen, a USB audio port, pushbutton start, and SMS text message delivery/receipt features. Launched as a 2010 model, the current-generation Mazda3 got a refresh for 2012, including Mazda's SkyActiv technology.
The Mazda3 looks smooth, pretty and aerodynamic. The sedan boasts a smooth 0.27 coefficient of drag, while the five-door gets a 0.29 Cd, slippery for a hatchback. This reduces wind noise and improves fuel economy. These cars are stylish, with front fenders puffed out forward of the wheels.
The Mazda3i SV base model is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 148 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. EPA fuel economy estimates with this engine are 25/33 mpg City/Highway with the standard 5-speed manual transmission, 24/33 mpg with the optional 5-speed automatic.
Mazda3i Sport, Mazda3i Touring, and Mazda3i Grand Touring models come with Mazda's SkyActiv powertrain, which delivers 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. SkyActiv is the most fuel-efficient of the lineup, with an EPA-estimated 27/39 mpg with the standard 6-speed manual, and an impressive 28/40 mpg City/Highway with the optional 6-speed automatic. In our test driving, we got 29.5 mpg driving it hard over the curvy mountainous highways east of Los Angeles, and 43.7 mpg returning to the city mostly on the freeway, running 65-70 mph, accelerating and decelerating with the fast flow of traffic. We recommend this engine.
Mazda3s Grand Touring models get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 167 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque, and achieves 20/28 mpg City/Highway with the 6-speed manual and 22/29 mpg with the optional 5-speed automatic.
MazdaSpeed3 is a performance model with a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, good for 263 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed manual is the only available transmission. It's fun to drive, but fuel economy suffers with a mediocre 18/25 mpg City/Highway.
The Mazda3 models have nice interiors with terrific seats. Controls are intuitive and easy to reach and use. The center stack is clean, the gauges clear, and digital information accessed by a thumb scroll on the steering wheel. All Mazda3 models seat five.
The Mazda3 five-door hatchback offers a lot of cargo space, 17 cubic feet behind the rear seats, compared 11.8 cubic feet of space in the sedan's trunk. Both come with 60/40 split folding rear seats, and they fold nearly flat, so the cargo space can be expanded enormously. In a pinch, the sedan can carry most of what the hatchback can.
Ride quality is firmer on the Mazda3 than on most competitors, and could be deemed harsh by someone used to driving a Corolla. The suspension on all Mazda3 models deliver a feel that's more European than Japanese. Harsh patches and rough roads never made the ride uncomfortable, however. Mazda3 is front-wheel drive.
The Mazda3 is a great alternative for those who want a compact sedan with sporty driving dynamics. Mazda3 competes directly with Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Elantra. The hatchback also competes with the Ford Focus hatch or Hyundai Elantra GT. Those keen on performance might compare the Mazdaspeed3 with the Scion FR-S for track-ready fun, or the Hyundai Veloster Turbo with its funky, yet practical, hatch shape.
The 2013 Mazda3 lineup includes sedan and hatchback body styles with a choice of three engines, or four counting the MazdaSpeed3.
Mazda3i SV sedan comes with a 148-hp 2.0-liter engine with a choice of 5-speed manual ($16,700) or 5-speed automatic ($17,550) transmission. Standard features include fabric upholstery, air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver's seat, power windows and mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a four-speaker audio system with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack and steering-wheel mounted controls and 16-inch steel wheels.
Mazda3i Sport sedan is powered by the 155-hp 2.0-liter SkyActiv engine with a 6-speed manual ($18,375) or 6-speed automatic ($19,225). The Sport upgrades with remote entry, power door locks, cruise control, USB port and an information display with trip computer, outside temperature gauge, maintenance reminder and audio information.
Mazda3i Touring models come in sedan and hatchback versions powered by the same 155-hp 2.0-liter engine as the Sport. Mazda3i Touring sedans offer a choice of 6-speed manual ($19,500) or 6-speed automatic ($20,350). Touring models include dual-zone automatic climate control, pushbutton start, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a rear seat armrest with cupholders, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an upgraded, six-speaker audio system and alloy wheels. Mazda3i Touring hatchback comes with the 6-speed manual ($20,000) or 6-speed automatic ($20,850) and get a rear roof spoiler, roof-mounted antenna and a rear window wiper in addition to all the other features listed above.
Mazda3i Grand Touring use the same SkyActiv powertrain and come in sedan variants with the manual ($22,800) or automatic ($23,650) transmissions, as well as in hatchback form with the same manual ($23,300) or automatic ($24,150). Grand Touring models feature leather upholstery, an 8-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, padded door armrests, a 5.8-inch color touchscreen display with real-time traffic information, voice-activated controls, a text message audio delivery and reply system, a power sunroof, blind spot monitoring system, heated outside mirrors and a 10-speaker, 265-watt Bose audio system with Pandora audio streaming.
Mazda3s Grand Touring models are powered by a 167-hp, 2.5-liter engine. Mazda3s Grand Touring sedan comes with a 6-speed manual ($24,350) or 5-speed automatic ($25,150), Mazda3s Grand Touring five-door hatch offers the manual ($24,850) or automatic ($25,650). Standard features include unique sport-style seats, different colored gauges, illuminated vanity mirrors, an overhead sunglass holder, satellite radio capability with a four-month subscription, rain sensing wipers, bi-xenon adaptive automatic headlights, fog lights, dual exhaust with chrome-like tips, LED taillights and 17-inch alloy wheels. Sedans get a rear deck lip spoiler and hatchbacks get a unique rear roof spoiler.
Mazdaspeed3 ($24,200) is a high-performance hatch that comes in a single trim level: Touring. It's powered by a 263-hp turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-4 that's mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, and uses a limited-slip differential. Standard equipment includes many of the features found on the Grand Touring models: dual-zone automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, sport seats with leather and cloth upholstery, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB audio jack. Exterior features include a unique front grille, 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights and a unique rear roof spoiler.
A variety of packages and stand-alone options are available for each trim level.
Safety equipment on all 2013 Mazda3 models includes dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, active front head restraints, and anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. Grand Touring models also get a blind-spot monitoring system.