2016 Mazda 3 Sport Review

When I first saw the ad for a Mazda 3 with a lease rate of $72 bi-weekly ($969 down) while browsing MontrealRacing in September, my interest was certainly peaked. How could Mazda offer such an inexpensive rate on this vehicle? This wasn’t an ad for a sub-compact bare bones Mazda 2, it was for the compact Mazda 3 including the comfort package.

Naturally I was interested to test the Mazda 3 and find out for myself what all the fuss was about. So I asked Mazda and they lent me this 2016 Mazda 3 Sport for a week.

I’ve never been a fan of red cars but I found this candy-red paint quite attractive. Coupled with the ivory-leather seats, this color combo was quite pleasing indeed.

The most pleasing aspect for me, however, was the new car smell. With only 2,000 kilometers on the odometer, the aroma from the volatile organic compounds used in construction which create the coveted scent was simply amazing. If I’m buying a new car and absorbing all the depreciation that comes with the purchase, there has better be new car smell present otherwise it’s no sale. Mazda has this covered.

There are two types of Mazda 3s: the sedan and the sport (wagon). Each has the choice of trim levels GX, GS and GT and the sedan has an extra trim level G being the least expensive out of the four. My tester was the top of the line GT trim with the technology & luxury packages. The full load included features such as the i-ELOOP regenerative braking system, heads-up display Smart City Brake Support, Blind Spot Monitoring system, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive front lighting, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, high beam control, and much more.

Ergonomically, the car is near-perfect. The dash layout is simple and very easy to use. I especially love the volume dial on the center console with a push-mute feature that I don’t understand isn’t the standard on all cars. The heads-up display was also a nice feature that I came to reply on heavily. The main display is touch screen and you still have the option of using the dial on the center console. The only oddity was the fact that the rear-view mirror was positioned so high that there wasn’t enough space to fit a finger between it and the roof. Instead of grabbing it like a normal person, one must grip it underneath or on the side to make adjustments.

Under the hood of the GX trim is the SKYACTIV-G 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine making 184 horsepower. This was enough power to scoot around town with ease while maintaining good fuel efficiency (8.2 L/100km city/ 6.0 highway). Handling and braking were excellent and the ride is smooth.

This tester’s sticker price was $30,950, some $11,600 more than the Mazda3 Sport base price of $19,350 ($15,550 for the sedan). This would be quite a bit more than the price in the ad which first grabbed my attention but this was really the full array of options. Options are neat but not mandatory if you’re operating on a strict budget. The build quality of the entry level trim will be exactly the same.

Mazda seems to have nailed it in the ultra-competitive compact segment and that’s critical when going head to head with big sellers like the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla. That said, the Mazda 3 still lags behind those three in year-to-date sales figures with 27,626 units (as of September 2015) so it seems the company has its work cut out for it if it wishes to move up the ladder in the minds of Canadian consumers.