The Mazda3 was introduced in 2004 and is the brand’s most popular vehicle around the world. It returns for 2018 with some new features and technology. The Mazda3 remains a handsome hatch or sedan that’s fun to drive with a lot of bang for the buck. It’s definitely a contender in the super-competitive compact car category.
The five-passenger 2018 Mazda3 is available in the same three trims: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring, all available as a sedan or hatchback. Starting prices range from $18,095 to $24,945. The hatch costs about $750 to $1,250 more than the sedan.
For 2018, Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control and Smart City Brake Support are now standard on all Mazda3 models. Mazda says G-Vectoring Control technology uses engine timing to control chassis dynamics, which leads to smoother steering inputs, resulting in greater confidence and control for the driver. Smart City Brake Support is collision avoidance technology that operates between 2 and 19 mph, automatically applying the brakes to lessen the severity of an impending collision.
Two engines are available. a 2.0-liter SkyActiv four-cylinder that makes 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet or torque, or a 2.5-liter SkyActiv four-cylinder with 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet. You can still have a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual across all trim levels.
Mazda wants the Mazda3 to be a driver’s car and it does indeed have nimble handling and is one of the liveliest in the class. My tester has the larger engine and the six-speed manual. It’s quick off the line and stays planted around curves. Steering is precise and brakes are quick to respond. The manual transmission is easy and smooth to shift. Even with the emphasis on quick performance, the ride is still comfortable.
EPA mileage estimates for my tester are 26 mpg city and 35 mpg highway with a combined rating of 30 mpg. I got 27 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is very stylish with a fit and finish you’d expect to find in a much spendier vehicle. Seats are comfortable and supportive with side bolsters that help keep you in your seat if you are enjoying the Mazda3’s peppy handling. The back seats have a little less space than some rivals but two adults will be comfortable there.
Standard features in all 2018 Mazda3 trims include push-button start, rearview camera, six-speaker audio system, HD Radio, Bluetooth, two USB ports, the Mazda Connect infotainment system with a seven-inch touch screen, and the Smart City Brake Support system.
Options include dual-zone automatic climate control, nine-speaker Bose sound system, satellite radio, navigation, moonroof, head-up display, traffic sign recognition, adaptive headlights and several driver assistance technologies including blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, rear parking sensors and rear cross traffic alert.
The infotainment system is user friendly. You can use the touchscreen or the Commander control knob that’s mounted on the center console. The system reacts quickly to commands and voice recognition worked well most of the time.
However, the system is getting a bit dated since Apple Car Play and Android Auto are not yet available in any Mazda models.
The Mazda3 hatchback has decent cargo room for the class with 20.2 cubic feet with the back seats in place and 47.1 cubes with the rear seats folded. The sedan has a smaller than average trunk with 12.4 cubic feet. Split-folding rear seats are standard in both the hatch and sedan.
Zoom-zoom handling among the best in the class
Good gas mileage
Upscale cabin for the class
User-friendly infotainment system
Smart City Brake Support is now standard on all Mazda3 models.
Sedan has less trunk space than rivals
Apple CarPlay and Android Apple not yet available in any Mazda models
My tester starts at $23,895. Cargo mat is $75. Soul Red Metallic paint is $300. Rear bumper guard is $100. Scuff plates and door sill trim plates are $125. The Premium EQ Package is $1,600 and adds Mazda navigation system, heated steering wheel, high beam control, lane departure warning system, lane keep assist, auto dim/HomeLink rearview mirror, adaptive front lighting system, Mazda radar cruise control, and traffic sign recognition. The Appearance Package is $1,750 and adds a front air dam, door mirror caps, rear hatch spoiler, rear bumper skirt and side sill extensions. Delivery fee is $875 bringing the grand total to $28,720.
The Mazda3 remains a fun-to-drive car at a reasonable price that boasts an upscale interior and features often found on much more expensive vehicles. If you’re shopping for a compact car, The Mazda3 is one of the vehicles that should be on your list to test drive.