$5,588 - $9,490

2011 Mazda Mazda3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Mazda Mazda3 was new.


Performance: 8.7

The 2011 Mazda3’s performance is aggressive and fun. Auto writers praise the car’s engines and are thrilled with its fine-tuned suspensions, steering and braking.

  • "From behind the wheel, you won't think 'economy' anyway -- the 3 offers a comfortable driving position, its rock-solid brake pedal responds with sports-car bite, and its thin-rimmed wheel accurately transmits its driver's inputs to the front tires." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The [Mazda3 I Touring] is a hoot, the way small cars universally seemed to be back in the day. Quick, nimble, sufficiently powerful for most conditions, well-enough appointed to delight most small-car folks." -- USA Today

Acceleration and Power

Generally, reviewers are pleased with the 2011 Mazda3’s acceleration and power. It offers two engines: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque, and a 2.5-liter engine that delivers 167 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque. The EPA says the Mazda3 gets up to 25/33 mpg city/highway.

  • "We first sampled a base model equipped with a five-speed manual gearbox. It's a refined piece with an eager engine song, silky, easy-effort clutch, and a delightfully accurate shifter." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "The smile provoking behavior of the 2-liter I doubtless was due to the fun-to-drive shift manual. The clutch seemed just so, and enough of the engine's modest power was available at low engine speed." -- USA Today

Handling and Braking

Reviewers praise the Mazda3’s precise braking and steering, which increases the Mazda3’s stability when cornering. However, reviewers have a few complaints. They say it understeers and that the manual transmission has an overaggressive throttle, making the drive less smooth.

  • "Dynamically, the Mazda 3… seems to understeer more resolutely than its predecessor, and overly aggressive throttle calibration makes smooth driving in the manual-transmission 3s a real challenge." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The 3 exhibits very little front push, but body roll is more than we expected. To that end, there is an overall softness to the tuning which will be appreciated on commutes. Still, the revised steering gear is highly precise. Overall, handling is among the most solid and enjoyable in its class." -- Motor Week

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