The Mazda 3s Grand Touring is a practical city commuter that has above average interior quality and is highly driver focused. It gets excellent fuel mileage and the 2.5-liter engine has enough power to keep a smile on your face during the daily commute. The experience in the driver’s seat of the 2016 Mazda 3s remains one of the most distinctive in the compact-car class. We found the Mazda 3s drives like a light-hearted Mercedes or BMW.
Most aspects of the driving experience are very satisfying—the 3 is far more athletic than your typical compact car. The cockpit of the Mazda 3s is sporty and focused on the driver. The interior has a high quality feel with above average materials, fit and finish wise, for the class. Driving enthusiasts will like the thoughtful layout, with controls conveniently located on both sides of the steering wheel.
We found the vehicle to be way above average in sporty character compared to the other compacts on the market. Mazda has tuned the chassis for sport and the Mazda 3s was able to carve through the tight mountain corners like a sports car. The 2.5-liter SkyActiv 4-cylinder engine produces a spritely 185 horsepower. The only complaint we had was the cabin as it can be a bit noisy when traveling at highway speeds.
In typical Mazda form, the Mazda 3s is tuned to the sportier side of the spectrum. Car enthusiasts are always excited about seeing a manual transmission in a sporty car, for the additional control and engagement it affords, Mazda delivers on this front with its fluid, 6-speed transmission. Getting back to the engine for a quick second, it has good throttle response, which is always nice when you are going down gears heading into a corner.
The Mazda Connect system uses a large, colorful, high-contrast touch-screen display that sits atop the dash. This system is quick with relatively easy-to-navigate menus that can be selected with the touch screen or with the rotary controller.
The latest Mazda 3s has been named an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, and all models are fitted with six airbags: front and side bags for each front-seat passenger, and side-curtain bags stretching the full length of the cabin. There also are several systems that use a combination of camera and radar-based sensing to assist and alert the driver in potentially hazardous situations. Grouped together under the name i-ActivSense, they include adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning alert, and headlights that switch automatically between low and high beams. There’s also a forward-obstruction warning system, which alerts drivers if the car is closing too quickly on an obstacle directly ahead. Mazda says that system operates at speeds from 9 to 92 mph. Finally, there’s a new Smart City Brake Support system, which monitors closing distances and will pre-tension the brakes and alert the driver if a collision appears imminent at speeds up to 19 mph.
The Mazda 3s refinements and practicality make it a terrific all rounder. It remains entertaining to drive, features a nicer interior, offers good fuel economy and packs in a ton of features with a fun drivetrain. For a daily driver, this 3s is difficult to beat.