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2015 Mazda 3 Review


This 2015 Mazda 3 review explains changes for the model year, provides a summary of the 2015 Mazda 3, and includes Mazda 3 safety, reliability, and fuel economy ratings.

 What is the 2015 Mazda 3?

A compact sedan or five-door hatchback, the 2015 Mazda 3 is a globally sold vehicle that combines efficiency and affordability into a single fun-to-drive package. Key competitors include the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Corolla, and Volkswagen Golf and Jetta.


What’s New for the 2015 Mazda 3?

Mazda debuts its new SkyActiv engine technology in the refreshed 2015 Mazda 3, which is accompanied by new six-speed manual and automatic transmissions and is rated to get as much as 40 mpg on the highway, depending on the model. Updated styling, new paint colors, redesigned alloy wheels, revised cabin trim, an expanded model lineup, and a lower base price highlight additional changes to Mazda’s popular compact car.


Trim Levels and Features


For 2015, the Mazda 3 is available in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles, in numerous combinations of powertrains and trim levels. We’ll do our best to sort things out for you.


If you’re looking for the least expensive 2015 Mazda 3 model, you’ll find it in the 3i SV Sedan. The entry-level econocar comes only with a five-speed manual gearbox, and includes power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, cloth seats, a 60/40-split rear seatback, and 16-inch steel wheels wearing plastic wheel covers. The four-speaker stereo has a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio input jack. The only options are dealer installed. An automatic transmission and air conditioning are not among them.


If you can’t operate a clutch pedal and don’t want to sweat-stain your seats every summer, the Mazda 3i Sport Sedan is the model you want. It comes with air conditioning, remote keyless entry, and an ambient outside temperature display. A five-speed automatic transmission is available in addition to a menu of dealer-installed items that should probably be skipped.


Mazda’s new SkyActiv-G engine is installed in the Mazda 3i Touring, which is available in both hatchback and sedan format. A six-speed manual transmission, 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth hands-free calling and music streaming, an upgraded stereo, cruise control, a trip computer, silver interior accent trim, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob are included on the Touring model. A six-speed automatic is optional, along with a Moonroof & Bose Package that includes – you guessed it – a power moonroof and a 10-speaker Bose Centerpoint surround sound audio system. Dealers also offer a variety of upgrades for the 3i Touring.


The Mazda 3i Grand Touring Sedan and Hatchback also feature SkyActiv-G technology, combining the more fuel-efficient powertrain with the power moonroof and Bose audio system in addition to a power driver’s seat, leather seats, heated front seats, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a navigation system. A six-speed automatic transmission is optional, and for this model Mazda offers an optional Technology Package with rain-sensing wipers, an Adaptive Front Lighting System with bi-Xenon headlights, satellite radio, and a perimeter alarm system. A Blind-Spot Monitoring System is also optional on the Grand Touring and, as with other Mazda 3 models, the dealer is happy to add extra stuff if you’d like.


The Mazda 3s Touring, in hatchback and sedan flavors, features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine without SkyActiv technology. This more powerful engine is combined with 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, a rear spoiler, and dual exhaust outlets. Inside, the 3s Touring gets electroluminescent gauges with a multi-information display screen, a welcome lighting system, a sliding center console armrest, and Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry and Start. A power moonroof and Bose Centerpoint premium surround sound are also standard on this model. Options include a five-speed automatic transmission in addition to dealer-installed accessories.


Next on the model roster is the 3s Grand Touring Hatchback and Sedan, equipped with everything that’s included on the 3i Grand Touring models. A five-speed automatic, a Technology Package, and a Blind-Spot Monitoring System are optional, as well as a handful of dealer-installed accessories.


The performance-oriented Mazdaspeed 3 sits at the top of the Mazda 3 menu. Offered only in a hatchback body style, the Mazdaspeed 3 is equipped with a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox, 18-inch alloy wheels shod with 225/40R18 summer performance tires, limited-slip differential with Mazda Advanced Torque Management System, a sport suspension, bigger front brakes, revised exhaust tuning, and unique front styling with a functional hood scoop. The interior is executed in black with red highlights, and includes leather-bolstered sport seats with cloth inserts and Bose Centerpoint surround sound audio. The only option, aside from dealer-installed stuff, is a Technology Package with satellite radio, a navigation system, an Adaptive Front Lighting System with bi-Xenon headlights, a Blind-Spot Monitoring System, rain-sensing wipers, Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry and Start, and a perimeter alarm.


Under the 2015 Mazda 3’s Hood


Count ‘em up, and Mazda offers seven different powertrain combinations in the 2015 Mazda 3 lineup.


The Mazda 3i SV and 3i Sport Sedans have a 148-horsepower*, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard, and a five-speed automatic is optional on the 3i Sport model. Fuel economy is rated 25-city/33-highway with the manual gearbox and 24-city/33-highway with the automatic transmission.


* PZEV-rated models make 144 horsepower. PZEV refers to Partial Zero Emission Vehicle.


If you buy the Mazda 3i Touring or Grand Touring, you’ll get the new 2.0-liter, direct-injected, SkyActiv four-cylinder engine, rated at 155 horsepower and paired with a new six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Mazda claims this engine bumps horsepower by five percent, torque by as much as 15 percent, and fuel economy by an impressive 21 percent. Final EPA fuel economy ratings are not available as this review is written, but Mazda is saying the hatchback will achieve 39 mpg on the highway and the sedan will get a 40-mpg highway rating.


The 2015 Mazda 3s models are equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 167 horsepower in standard tune and 165 horsepower in PZEV states. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. Fuel economy ratings are 20-city/28-highway with the manual transmission and 22-city/29-highway with the automatic.


For a big, fat, sloppy kiss of horsepower and torque, the Mazdaspeed 3’s direct-injected and turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine is ready to deliver. It makes 263 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm, and delivers the power to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission equipped with a limited-slip differential and a Mazda Advanced Torque Management System that effectively restrains the engine’s power delivery until there’s enough traction to handle it. Premium fuel is required, and the Mazdaspeed 3 is rated to get 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.


Safety and Reliability


Mazda provides a comprehensive safety package on every 2015 Mazda 3. Six airbags, traction and stability control, and four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist are standard on every model. If you purchase the Grand Touring or Mazdaspeed 3 variants, you can add rain-sensing wipers, an Adaptive Front Lighting System, and Blind-spot Monitoring to the Mazda 3.


In crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 2015 Mazda 3 receives an overall rating of 4 Stars. The NHTSA finds that occupants receive 5-Star protection in a frontal impact, 3-Star protection in a side impact, and 4-Star resistance to rollover protection. Digging deeper into the data, the NHTSA gives the Mazda 3 a poor 2-Star rating for protection of the rear passengers in a side-impact crash, which is something to keep in mind if you plan to carry children in a Mazda 3.


Or, you could just pretend you never read that information and focus instead on the fact that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) called the 2011 Mazda 3 a Top Safety Pick for its top-rated performance in frontal, side, and rear crash tests, in addition to a roof crush safety assessment. That accolade has not been carried forward for 2015 models as this review is written, but the 2015 Mazda 3 is structurally identical to that award-winning 2014 version.


It looks like a Mazda 3 will deliver dependability, too. Consumer Reports says buyers can expect better than average reliability over time, while J.D. Power and Associates predicts that dependability will prove average.


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