Intro: The Mazda3 has become a popular compact car for drivers looking for an exciting ride in an economical package. Available as a sedan or hatchback, the Mazda3's front end is dominated by the "smiling" lower grille framed by a pair of vents at the front corners that house the available halogen fog lights. Our test model also had a stainless steel dual exhaust, 17-inch alloy wheels, and the larger of the two available engines.
Performance: The base 2-liter inline-4 sends 148 horsepower to the front wheels through either a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. Also available is a 2.5-liter inline-4 sending 167 horsepower to the front wheels through either a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel Economy: Here are the highest and lowest EPA estimates for fuel economy:
Features: Available trims are Base SV, Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. Separate labeling is present on the 3 to denote engine selection, with the smaller engine getting the "i" designation, and the larger engine getting the "s" label (Omitted from EDIT: No footage or stills found to support).
The interior of the 3 echoes the sporty nature of its exterior design. Our test model came with available leather interior for the standard 5-passenger seating, a Navigation system operated via the standard multifunction steering wheel, and heated front seats.
The rear 60/40-split/folding rear seats give way to over 42 cubic feet of cargo space on the hatchback models. Trunk volume for the sedan is 11.8 cubic feet, but can be expanded with the rear seats folded.
Features: Standard safety equipment includes 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, front and rear side impact door beams, a full array or airbags, and active front headrests to reduce whiplash.
Pricing/Warranty: Base MSRP for the 2011 Mazda3 is $15,800. A range-topping Grand Touring hatchback starts at $23,010. The Mazda3 is backed by a 5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Summary: While the Mazda3 may be outfitted with a wealth of features, it's the fun-to-drive nature and quick handling on which Mazda prides itself that sets the 2011 Mazda3 apart from the rest of the compact car market.