“Quick question – can you or your husband drive manual vehicles?”
When I received an email asking if I was interested in reviewing several cars in the area, that was the sentence that caught my eye right away. Of COURSE, I can drive a stick. I don’t need a man to do it for me! was my mental response. But honestly, I don’t think it’s a sexist question. There’s almost a lost art of driving a manual transmission these days.
Luckily, with the Mazda3, I can see it making a comeback.
I’ll admit that I was a little rusty when this Blue Reflex Mica showed up in the driveway. I peered in and saw a 6 speed. SIX SPEEDS? Well, okay then.
How very European of them. Many of my friends commented that the six speeds and the position of the reverse was similar to styles commonly found in Europe. Regardless, it was totally easy to drive. The clutch was light and airy and I shifted with ease. And if I had any doubts about when to shift, the Mazda3 gave me an indication of when the ideal time to shift was for maximum efficiency.
Once I got the hang of it, I felt like I had re-entered the driving arena. And although my work-from-home job usually keeps me within a 5 mile radius of my house, I was able to find lots of reasons to get out of the house, no matter how mundane, just for the thrill of driving.
The exterior was a delicate yet sporty shade of blue but it was the interior that sold me. I went grocery shopping one night without thinking of putting this hatchback to the test. But that’s exactly what I did when I came out with a full load of groceries (ooh, look! I even remembered my reusable grocery bags!).
In addition to the cargo space in the hatchback, the rear seats fold almost flat and this little baby is ready for a trip to IKEA. Yes, there’s that much room.
But the cargo space was only the practical side of the Mazda3, a little car full of luxury, starting with the perforated leather seats.
But most of the magic was seen from the driver’s seat. The steering wheel offered full control on audio and cruise control.
The dashboard could be mistaken for any other car offering dual zone climate control and heated seats.
But the beauty is above the dashboard on the multimedia screen and I absolutely fell in love with the ease of control on the center console. Imagine the right hand control of a mouse and a computer screen.
That certainly feels like the design inspiration for the controls and made them feel like second nature. But wait until you hear my favorite feature.
If I missed anything about this fabulous not-so-little car, this will hopefully help you with what you need to know.
What We Loved
- The model we drove was the 2015 MAZDA3 s Grand Touring 5-Door, the top of the line 5 door model
- Mazda equipped this model with SKYACTIV-MT 6-speed manual transmission
- The sound was phenomenal from the Bose 9 speaker surround sound system with Centerpoint 2 and AudioPilot 2
- The gas mileage for this model was estimated at 28/39 mpg
- Fully equipped for around $28,000
What You Need to Know
- The Mazda3 comes in a 4 door (sedan) and 5 door (hatchback)
- Nicely seats four (car seats okay); definitely a stretch to seat five adults but could be managed
- The center console controls take some getting used to (it’s instinct to reach for the dash)
- With six speed, you don’t need to rev as high before shifting
Overall, this is a solid, safe, sporty, stylish car for under $30,000. Definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re the type of driver that likes the feel of the road.