The 2015 Mazda3 continues with the bold Kodo-inspired grille, a wide stance and sculpted flanks that were introduced for the 2014 model year. The Mazda3 remains one of the few compact cars that’s available as a 4-door sedan or a 5-door hatchback. Upgraded interior materials, comfortable seats and an Audi MMI-like infotainment system take cabin ambiance upscale. The Mazda3 continues to offer excellent driving dynamics, precise steering and good handling — unexpected attributes in the segment. The powertrain lineup consists of a pair of fuel-efficient SKYACTIV 4-cylinder engines, a capable 155-horsepower 2.0-liter and a 184-hp 2.5-liter. New for 2015 is the availability of a 6-speed manual transmission with the 2.5-liter. The front-wheel-drive compact is the best-selling car in the Mazda lineup. See the 2015 Mazda3 models for sale near you
What We Like
Performance of SKYACTIV 2.5-liter 4-cylinder; precise handling; fuel economy; manual shifter; interior materials and layout; hatchback versatility; manual transmission now available with the 2.5-liter
What We Don’t
Firm ride over bumps; low rear seats; short on cabin storage; costly alternator repairs with i-ELOOP system
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The SV, i Sport, i Touring and i Grand Touring trims use the capable and efficient direct-injected SKYACTIV 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, which produces 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque. Sedans equipped with the 6-speed automatic achieve 30 miles per gallon in the city and 41 mpg on the highway, while 6-speed manual-transmission versions return 29 mpg city/41 mpg hwy. Stick-shift hatchback models with this engine get 29 mpg city/40 mpg hwy, rising slightly to 30 mpg city/40 mpg hwy with the automatic. This engine uses regular unleaded fuel.
Buyers looking for peppier performance should consider the s Touring and s Grand Touring models, both of which come with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder version of the SKYACTIV engine that produces 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual is newly available with this engine, EPA rated at 25 mpg city/37 mpg hwy in sedans and 26 mpg city/35 mpg hwy in hatchback models. With the 6-speed automatic, sedans get a 28 mpg city/39 mpg hwy rating, while hatchbacks return 27 mpg city/37 mpg hwy. Grand Touring models with the optional i-ELOOP regenerative braking system add another 1 mpg to those estimates. The 2.5-liter also uses regular unleaded fuel.
Standard Features & Options
For 2015, the Mazda3 is available in i SV, i Sport, i Touring, i Grand Touring, s Touring and s Grand Touring trims.
The i SV is available only as a sedan and features include cloth seats, air conditioning, push-button start, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, a basic 4-speaker AM/FM stereo, the SKYACTIV 155-hp 2.0-liter engine, intermittent wipers, a USB port, a trip computer, a clock, power windows, doors and mirrors, 16-inch steel wheels, a folding rear seat and anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes. Also included are dual-front, front-side and overhead airbags, as well as dynamic stability control with traction control.
The i Sport adds Mazda Connect, cruise control, Bluetooth, projector-beam head lamps, a split-folding rear bench, upgraded 6-speaker CD/MP3 audio with steering wheel controls and a choice of sedan or hatchback body styles.
The i Touring upgrades with a fog lamps, a backup camera, a blind spot monitoring system, sport seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, handbrake handle and shifter, a center rear armrest, a security alarm and 16-in alloy wheels. Options include a 9-speaker Bose surround-sound stereo, navigation, SiriusXM radio, HD Radio, dual-zone auto climate control, a power moonroof, an auto-dimming mirror and a rear sunshade.
Moving up to the i Grand Touring trim adds navigation, a power moonroof, a 9-speaker Bose audio system, faux leather seating, a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, dual-zone auto climate control, SiriusXM radio, HD Radio and heated side mirrors.
Opting for the s Touring trim gets you the 184-hp 2.5-liter engine, 18-in alloys, heated faux-leather front seats, a power moonroof, paddle shifters, driver’s-side adjustable lumbar and a head-up display.
The range-topping s Grand Touring trim adds leather seats, rain-sensing wipers, HomeLink and self-leveling bi-xenon head lamps. Options include radar cruise control, forward-collision warning, a lane-departure warning system, smart city brake support and i-ELOOP regenerative braking.
In 2015, the Mazda3 was the brand’s top-selling car, but recognition among buyers is a fraction of that enjoyed by entries from Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Ford and Chevrolet. For this reason, a Mazda can present a relative used-car bargain if you shop around.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the following safety recalls for Mazda3 models from 2015.
The weld for the fuel tank inlet check valve may fail, creating a possible fuel leak and a fire risk if an ignition source is present.
A malfunctioning fuel tank shut-off valve may stall the engine, increasing the risk of a crash or leak, creating a fire risk.
A corroded parking brake actuator shaft may bind and not engage fully, increasing the risk of a crash if an unattended car is parked on a grade.
Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, they’ll fix the car at no charge to you.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
The NHTSA gave the 2015 Mazda3 a 5-star rating overall, with five stars for front and side impacts and four stars for rollover resistance.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave both the 2015 Mazda3 sedan and hatchback Top Safety Pick+ designations. Both versions received Good ratings for small- and moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength, head restraints and seat performance.
For 2015, the Mazda3 came with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, a 5-year/unlimited-mileage corrosion-perforation warranty and 3 years/36,000 miles of roadside-assistance coverage.
Mazda certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles can’t be more than 6 years old or have more than 80,000 miles on the odometer. Every CPO Mazda3 receives a 150-point inspection. Each also receives an additional 1-year/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty on top of the remainder of the existing 3-year/36,000-mile coverage and an extension of the vehicle’s original 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty to 7 years and 100,000 miles. Also included is an AutoCheck vehicle history report and 24-hour roadside assistance.
Other Cars to Consider
2015 Ford Focus — Revised for 2015 with a facelifted exterior and updated cabin, the fun-to-drive Focus is available as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatchback. Engine choices include a 123-hp 1.0-liter EcoBoost 3-cylinder or 160-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, both available with a manual or 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The sensational Focus ST model sports a manually shifted 252-hp 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder but suffers from torque steer.
2015 Toyota Corolla — All new in 2014, the more stylish Corolla adds a new Premium trim for 2015 with navigation, a moonroof and premium audio. Top fuel-economy honors go to the LE Eco model with an EPA rating of up to 40 mpg hwy with a 140-hp 1.8-liter 4-cylinder. The driving experience, however, remains plain vanilla. Transmission choices include a continuously variable automatic, a 6-speed manual or a conventional 4-speed automatic.
The bold styling of the 2015 Mazda3 still turns heads, but the stylish compact remains one of the best-kept secrets on used-car lots. It’s fun to drive, nicely outfitted inside and channels a lot of the goodness that makes the Miata such a joy, but not many people know about it. The s Touring and the s Grand Touring with the 184-hp 2.5-liter engine and 18-in wheels are the most fun to drive, and Mazda added the 6-speed automatic transmission availability with the 2.5-liter for 2015.
If you’ve ever wanted to try a stick shift everyday car, you should test-drive the Mazda3 — its 6-speed manual gearbox is among the best. Regardless of your engine choice, look for a low-mileage example that’s been well-maintained, and check out CPO vehicles. Ask the dealer about any possible safety recalls on the vehicle you’re considering.