A premium feel to an affordable 5-Door

Mazda has always been an interesting automaker. Its combination of sportiness and affordability has given the car-buying public a good value for their dollar. Vehicles like the MX-5 Miata quickly come to mind. But the Miata isn’t Mazda’s only major success story. In fact, the Mazda3 has proven extremely successful since its introduction in 2004 thanks to is sedan and hatchback versions offering a fun-to-drive character with a reasonable sticker price. Now in its third generation, the 3 continues to offer those same attributes, but with an added level of refinement and class.

I recently spent a week behind the wheel of a 2018 Mazda3 5-Door equipped with the range-topping Grand Touring trim to see how Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” attitude was holding up. Happily, I can report the little car is a blast to drive and is impressively practical. See how the details shake out below.

Continue reading for more on the 2018 Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring.

  • 2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    six-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    184 @ 5700
  • Torque @ RPM:
    185 @ 3250
  • Displacement:
    2.5 L
  • Top Speed:
    130 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

Exterior

  • Mazda’s Kodo design language is sexy and swoopy
  • Upscale curb appeal
  • 18-inch wheels
  • Passive entry on front doors and hatch
2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven
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The Mazda3 5-Door has a distinctive appearance

The Mazda3 5-Door has a distinctive appearance. Its sloped hood, sloping rear roofline, and curvy beltline that rises and falls nearly the entire length of the car gives it a very swoopy and stylish stance. Mix that with the large six-sided grille, projector-style LED headlights, chrome accents, and handsome 18-inch wheels, and the Mazda3 5-Door comes off as an execution of attention to detail.

Speaking of those LED headlights, the Grand Touring trim makes them adaptive, turning with the steering wheel to light the curves ahead. LED daytime running lights are also present, giving the 3 a sophisticated, though now common, accent.

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven
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The rear hatch can be opened just by grabbing the electronic handle.

Getting into the car is simple thanks to keyless enter. Small rubber buttons on the front door handles must be pushed to lock and unlock. They work well but don’t offer the most satisfying sense of touch. The rear hatch can be opened just by grabbing the electronic handle.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (inches) 106.3
Length (inches) w/License Plate Holder 180.3
Width (inches) w/o Body Side Protector 70.7
Height, unladen (inches) 57.3
Track front/rear (inches) 61.2/61.4
Curb Weight (lbs.) 3,098

Interior

  • Beautiful two-tone interior
  • Heated leather seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • 7.0-inch Infotainment system with navigation
  • Nine-speaker Bose sound system
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • 20.2 cubic feet of cargo room behind second row
  • 47.1 cubic feet of cargo with second row folded
2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven
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While the Mazda3 5-Door’s exterior is pleasing to look at, it’s the interior that proves more attractive

While the Mazda3 5-Door’s exterior is pleasing to look at, it’s the interior that proves more attractive. My tester came with white leather seats contrasted by the black dashboard, door panels, and carpet. Aluminum accents are seen on the vents, steering wheel, door handles, and on most of the controls in the center console. The brightwork and white leather work excellently at making the cabin feel light and airy.

The inviting cabin also proved comfortable. Front seat occupants have three-way heated seats, dual-zone climate controls, and the driver gets a heated steering wheel and a six-way powered seat. The steering column is infinitely adjustable, making anyone able to find a comfortable driving position.

Rear seat passengers enjoy a decent amount of legroom and headroom. A folding center armrest makes longer trips more pleasurable and offers a place for drinks. Sadly, the rear seat comfort is compromised by the lack of HVAC vents. Front seat folks will have to share the air.

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven
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Naturally, being a hatchback, the Mazda3 5-Door offers plenty of space for cargo.

Naturally, being a hatchback, the Mazda3 5-Door offers plenty of space for cargo. Behind the second row, the car boasts 20.2 cubic feet of room. The 60/40-split bench folds (mostly) flat and increases cargo space to 47.1 cubic feet of room. That’s plenty for a quick run to IKEA.

The 2018 Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring doesn’t skimp on technology, either. The 7.0-inch infotainment screen with Mazda Connect is standard, even on the base trim. While it is a touch screen, the rotary knob controller and shortcut buttons are incredibly intuitive and easy to use. It makes quick work of selecting different menu features, and I found myself using it more than the touchscreen. The only exception was Apple CarPlay, which thrives on touch controls. The nine-speaker Bose audio system proved nice to listen to.

The Mazda’s gauges are simplistic yet informative. The tach is mounted front and center, with speed relegated to a small digital screen. A head-up display also shows the speed, along with the posted speed limit read from traffic signs. Yep, the Grand Touring trim boasts traffic sign recognition. I will say the font of the ancillary gauges looks dated. The LCD screens are a green hue away from looking like an alarm clock.

Aside from its very few quirks, the Mazda3’s interior proved perfectly comfortable and an easy place to spend time. It back seat is plenty big for my six-year-old and her booster seat, too.

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Interior Dimensions

Headroom, front/rear without Moonroof (inches) 38.6/37.6
Headroom, front/rear with Moonroof (inches) 37.6/37.5
Leg Room, front/rear (inches) 42.2/35.8
Shoulder Room, front/rear (inches) 57.2/54.4
Hip Room, front/rear (inches) 55.5/53.5
EPA Passenger Volume (cubic feet) 96.4
EPA Cargo Volume (cubic feet) 20.2
EPA Cargo Volume with rear seats down, (cubic feet) 47.1
EPA Total Volume (cubic feet) 116.6

Drivetrain

  • 2.0-liter SkyActive four-cylinder standard on Sport trim
  • 2.5-liter SkyActive I-4 standard on Touring & Grand Touring
  • 2.5-liter makes 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet
  • Six-speed manual transmission standard
  • Six-speed automatic is optional
  • Front-wheel drive
  • EPA rated at 26 city / 35 hwy / 30 combined
2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven
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The base Sport trim comes with a 155-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder while the Touring and Grand Touring get more power thanks to a 2.5-liter four-cylinder

Part of Mazda’s appeal is its SkyActiv engine technology. Without forced induction, the engines produce far more kick than their on-paper stats suggest while providing decent fuel economy.

The base Sport trim comes with a 155-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder while the Touring and Grand Touring get more power thanks to a 2.5-liter four-cylinder. This little engine makes a respectable 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque while getting an EPA-estimated 26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined. Credit is due to the direct fuel injection and Atkinson combustion cycle. The engine is also light thanks to an aluminum block and cylinder head. A six-speed manual comes standard, but my tester had the six-speed automatic.

Thanks to the 2.5-liter’s torque peaking at only 3,250 rpm, the car feels rather quick. The sprint to 60 mph happens in 7.0 seconds, and its top speed is an impressive 132 mph. Much of the 3’s performance can be attributed to its light curb weight of only 3,100 pounds.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine Type-SKYACTIV-G 2.5L DOHC
Horsepower 184 HP @ 5,700 RPM
Torque 185 @ 3,250 RPM
Transmission SKYACTIV-MT 6-speed manual
Optional Trans SKYACTIV-DRIVE 6-speed automatic
Fuel economy 25 / 34 / 29 (Manual trans)
Fuel economy 26 / 35 / 30 (Automatic trans)
Top Speed 130 mph

Safety

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven
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The Mazda3 5-Door, especially in the Grand Touring trim, offers a bevy of active and passive safety systems. Mazda calls it the i-ACTIVESENSE. Combined with the Premium Package on the Grand Touring, it adds adaptive headlights, smart brake support, radar cruise control, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. Standard safety equipment includes blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and smart city brake support (which stops the car automatically between two and 18 mph if the driver doesn’t).

The 2018 Mazda3 5-Door is rated a 5-Star vehicle by the IIHS.

Behind the Wheel

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The Mazda3 might be a front-wheel-drive hatchback, but it offers a very composed and refined on-road experience

The Mazda3 might be a front-wheel-drive hatchback, but it offers a very composed and refined on-road experience. It’s no Cadillac, but the ride is smooth, and the cabin is mostly free of wind or road noise. As mentioned, the engine feels more powerful than its on-paper stats suggest. Dumping the throttle is met with quick revs and matching movement. The six-speed automatic shifts quickly enough that manually shifting isn’t necessary. And while manual mode is offered via paddle shifters and the +/- on the shifter, slowish responses dull any extra good feelings manual control should bring.

The Mazda3 comes with a Sport mode, too. This greatly increases the car’s fun-to-drive factor. Mostly it boils down to an edgier throttle response and the transmission holding gears longer. Sadly, Sport Mode doesn’t help the transmission’s delayed responses to manual shifts. Don’t get me wrong, though; the response should feel perfectly fine for those not jaded by quick-shifting gearboxes in high-performance supercars. (Testing vehicles is a rough life, you know.)

Pricing

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The Mazda3 5-Door starts at $19,345. Three trim levels are offered, starting with the Sport, Touring, and the Grand Touring. My Grand Touring tester with the automatic transmission carries a base price of $24,945. Both the Touring and Grand Touring come standard with the 2.5-liter SkyActiv four-cylinder.

My tester came with several stand-alone options. They add cost, but also add convenience and style. These items include the $75 cargo mat, the $300 Soul Red Paint, the $100 rear bumper guard, the $125 scuff plates and door sill trim plates.

The biggest cost-adder is the $1,600 Premium Equipment Package. It’s money well spent, however, as it adds GPS navigation, paddle shifters, adaptive front lighting, smart brake support, radar cruise control, traffic sign recognition, auto-dim rearview mirror with HomeLink, a heated steering wheel, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.

Add in the $875 destination fee, and the total price comes to $28,020.

Sport MT SKYACTIV-G 2.0L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed manual transmission $19,345
Sport AT Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed automatic transmission $20,395
Touring MT SKYACTIV-G 2.5L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed manual transmission $20,840
Touring AT SKYACTIV-G 2.5L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed automatic transmission $21,890
Grand Touring MT SKYACTIV-G 2.5L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed manual transmission $23,895
Grand Touring AT SKYACTIV-G 2.5L Engine with SkyActiv-MT 6-Speed automatic transmission $24,945

The Competition

Volkswagen Golf

2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven
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The Volkswagen Golf is getting a fresh look for 2018, but we won’t get the new look until 2019. The current model is still a good vehicle that offers room for five, foldable rear seats, and a maximum of 52.7 cubic feet. Behind the second row, the Golf boasts 22.8 cubic feet. Both figures are more than the Mazda3 5-Door. While the little German might have the cargo-carrying advantage, the Mazda is certainly more sculpted on the outside and offers an arguably more refined interior. It also lacks several of the Mazda’s active safety features.

The Golf comes powered by 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard, but those averse to three pedals can get the six-speed automatic. Fuel economy is decent, with the Golf earning an EPA estimation of 25 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined with the automatic.

Prices for the VW start at $19,895 for the S trim. Only one other trim is available – the Wolfsburg – which starts at $22,415. Getting the automatic pushes the price north by $1,100

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf

Honda Civic Hatchback

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback
- image 689347

The venerable Honda Civic Hatchback recently underwent a complete generational change, bringing with it some major updates. The new exterior is racy and aggressive, which looks pretty good on the big-dog Type R version. The interior is equally sporty, even without the high-performance trims. Users will likely complain about the missing volume knob on the radio, however. The touch-sensitive slider does take some getting used to. The interior offers a respectable amount of room, though. Five people easily fit, along with 25.7 cubic feet of stuff behind the second row. Fold the seats down, and the Civic Hatch offers 46.7 cubic feet of room.

Honda powers the Civic Hatch two engine options: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder worth 158 horsepower and a more lovable 1.5-liter turbo-four with 174 to 180 horsepower, depending on the trim. Of course, there’s the Type R with its 2.0-liter turbo-four worth an impressive 306 horsepower, too, but that isn’t quite in this category. The same can be said for the Volkswagen Golf R.

A six-speed manual is the standard gearbox here, while a CVT is an option. Power only runs to the front wheels.

Prices for the 2018 Honda Civic Hatchback start at $20,050 for the base LX trim. The most expensive non-Type R Civic Hatchback is the Sport Touring Trim. It costs $28,650.

Read our full review on the 2018 Honda Civic Hatchback

Conclusion

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven
- image 763131

The Mazda3 5-Door is an interesting car. It combines a sexy aesthetic with a rewarding driving experienced protected by some advanced active safety tech and finished off with an affordable price tag. Of course, adding the Grand Touring trim and several optional extras makes the price edge closer to $30,000, the total package feels worth it.

That’s especially true when compared to today’s expensive crossovers that offer little advantages over a traditional hatchback or wagon. Who really needs that extra ground clearance anyway? Unless you live up north and routinely drive through snow banks or down rutted roads, a crossover’s extra potential is never tapped.

The Mazda3 5-Door offers a better driving experience than a crossover at a lower price, boasts a respectable amount of cargo room, and rewards its owner with 30 mpg combined on regular gasoline. What’s not to love?

  • Leave it
    • * Passive entry buttons
    • * Gets somewhat pricy with options

References

Mazda3

The Mazda3 Grand Touring 5-Door Gives New Meaning to Affordable Luxury Exterior
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Price Check: Mazda3 5-Door Grand Touring vs the Competition

2018 Mazda3 Grand Touring- Driven
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The Mazda3 Grand Touring 5-Door Gives New Meaning to Affordable Luxury

2016 - 2018 Mazda3 High Resolution Exterior
- image 639252

Read our full review on the 2018 Mazda3.

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Read more Mazda news.

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