The 2016 Mazda3 Test-Drive Review You Need To Read Before You Buy

Mazda3
By Sara

Earlier this month, I decided to test-drive the 2016 Mazda3, which I had been eyeing ever since my mom put pressure on me to actually actively search for a new car. Like I’ve mentioned before, I have wanted the Mazda3 since I drove my parent’s Mazda6 and saw the price-tag on them (they’re nice but not overly pricey). So I recruited my friend, her husband and my roommate to come with me – you know, because shopping for a car alone sounds sad.

When we showed up to the lot, I was thoroughly impressed by the amount of Mazda3’s on the lot, and simultaneously overwhelmed by how different they all were. I thought there were three models: the cheap one without a sunroof, the mid-level with a sunroof and then the expensive one with a sunroof. Basically, I knew I wanted the middle one because I wanted a sunroof (if you couldn’t already tell where my heart lies).

However, it’s not that simple. There’s the sport version, which gives you more giddy-up in the engine, plus the i Touring, i Grand Touring, s Touring and s Grand Touring. Plus, some come with fancy speakers, additional interior options and you can even pay extra depending on the color of car you want. The options are seemingly limitless to a car-novice like myself.

In my overwhelmed state, I pick the red car on the end of the row with a sunroof (so that makes it the Touring), conveniently located right next to me. Note: red costs extra for the “sparkle” coat. I won’t be paying for red.

Our very tall, trench-coated salesman, who originally was rather intimidating, turned out to be a really nice guy who respected the stage of buying I am in, which is as beginning as you can get while being physically present on a car lot. He showed me some key features and then let me take it for a spin.

What’s to Like about the Mazda3

Mazda3_interiorThe Mazda3 is a fun drive. I wasn’t even in the sport model and it was zippy. You can feel the way it hugs to the road when you take a corner. And the pick-up is remarkable, although anything will pick-up better than my 2005 Taurus.

The screen display is also really intuitive. Sometimes I find car navigation systems and display screens to be oddly challenging to use, but the Mazda3 makes everything easy to access and read. The seats were comfortable, and the speakers sounded excellent.

It was a nice ride for me in the front seat, but I don’t think my backseat passengers were as impressed with the comfort of the ride since the Mazda3 is compact and limits their backseat space. I joked as I drove the Mazda CX-5 that picking a car is inherently picking whether or not I want my friends to want me to drive places. When my roommate got a new Honda HR-V, we were all about her driving since the backseat was so much bigger in an SUV than a sedan.

What’s Not to Like about the Mazda3

I’m about to get really nit-picky here. I’m so frustrated that every new car I’ve driven has a bar in the middle-bottom of the steering wheel. I like to rest my hand there, but as I test-drove more cars, I’ve since realized that it’s just a feature of every new car.

Specifically to the Mazda3, I didn’t love the speedometer. I thought it was too small and I had a tough time glancing down and noticing how fast I was going, which is rather essential for me driving a car that actually has the potential to speed. I also found the blinker lever to be really short, and I felt like I had to reach around the wheel to use it, and not just flick it like I can in my Taurus.

Would I Buy a Mazda3?

My super short answer is: Yes.

I have driven the Jetta, which is a direct competitor to the Mazda3, and you get more for your money with Mazda3. Also, if you google “Mazda3 vs. Jetta,” most of my research points to picking the Mazda3 over the Jetta for reliability’s sake. I have no idea what’s not reliable about the Jetta, but AutoTrader named the Mazda3 the, “best compact car you can buy.”

I’ve still got some test-driving to do before actually buying a new car, but test-driving the Mazda and liking it as I expected to at least gives me a point of comparison moving forward.

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