The Mazda3 is offered in two body styles--a 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback. It features an aggressively styled front end, with styling cues borrowed from the RX-8 sports car and a wedge-shaped silhouette. Yet the overall profile of the Mazda3 is more aerodynamic, with a coefficient of drag as low as 0.29.
Inside, the focus is on top-rate materials--such as leather upholstery, French-stitched seams and soft-touch surfaces-- more design flair than nearly every other small car. The Mazda3's cabin has a sliding armrest atop a center-console storage bin, as well as pewter-painted trim. Seats are more aggressively bolstered than is typical among affordable small cars, but sport-seat upper bolsters are optional for those wanting even more support in cornering.
The Mazda3 is one of the best-handling small cars, with front struts and rear monotube dampers, along with a multi-link setup in back configured for handling stability. The 3s models get big 17-inch wheels with V-rated tires. Across the lineup the rack-and-pinion steering has speed-dependent power assist and is one of the most tight and direct in feel.
Both models also get 4-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock and brake assist. Front side airbags and side-curtain airbags are on the standard-equipment list, along with active head restraints. Electronic stability control is now standard across the line.
As a sedan, the Mazda3 i is offered in SV, Sport, and Touring trims and the 3s is offered as a Sport or Grand Touring. Base SV models come with power windows and locks, tilt/telescopic steering-wheel adjustment and a 4-speaker CD/MP3 sound system, but air conditioning isn't available. Sport models add air conditioning, while Touring trims add alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cruise control and a 6-speaker sound system, plus added trim and interior appointments. Cars equipped with the automatic transmission can be outfitted with rain-sensing wipers, LED taillights and automatic, adaptive bi-xenon headlights.
Top of the line Grand Touring models bring leather heated seats, LED tail lamps and an Adaptive Front Lighting System, which can swivel the lights up to 15 degrees to help illuminate around corners; the system also includes self-leveling bi-xenon lamps. A 265-watt Bose sound system and 6-disc CD changer are also standard, along with a power sunroof.