$14,219 - $18,911

2017 Mazda Mazda3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Mazda Mazda3 was new.


Performance: 9.0

No matter which engine you choose, the 2017 Mazda3 delivers satisfying highway acceleration and good fuel economy estimates. With its agile handling, sharp steering, and strong brakes, the Mazda3 is undoubtedly one of the best performers in the class.

  • "Thanks to Mazda's innovative Skyactiv powertrain and chassis design, the 2017 Mazda3 is both fun to drive and fuel-efficient. You'll have to rev the engine high to get the most from its limited power, but the Mazda3's precise steering, finely honed suspension and strong brakes assure a good time once up to speed." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Mazda3 is a lot of fun to drive, too. Its acceleration is excellent, especially with the optional 2.5-liter engine. The real fun comes in turning corners, where the Mazda3 boasts some of the best driving prowess around." -- Autotrader (2015)
  • "The 3 is, without question, the best-driving car in the segment." -- Autoblog (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Mazda3 comes standard with a 155-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Some upper trims have a 184-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed automatic is available. When equipped with the automatic transmission, the Mazda3 earns 28 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Those are some of the highest estimates in the class. With the manual transmission, the Mazda3 achieves similar estimates of 27 mpg in the city and 37 on the highway.

The base engine feels more powerful than those of rival compact sedans, though it can be a bit loud at highway speeds. The 184-horsepower engine that is standard in upper trims provides better acceleration without giving up too much in the way of fuel economy.

  • "The 6-speed manual is one of the best in the industry and is matched in efficiency and fun by the 6-speed automatic with manual mode. The Touring 2.5 and Grand Touring's 2.5-liter engine offers a bit more power with only a few miles-per-gallon sacrifice at the pump." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The base 2.0-liter engine in the Mazda 3 sounds a bit raspy under hard acceleration but provides better-than-average acceleration and has useful midrange torque output, making it a completely viable pick. Nevertheless, it's still tempting to stretch your budget for the larger 2.5-liter engine. It's quicker, smoother and slightly quieter, and there's a minimal impact to overall fuel economy." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Acceleration isn't exactly strong in the base 3 i, but the 155-hp engine has enough muscle to pull itself to freeway speeds without eliciting any worry from the driver." -- Car and Driver (2014)

Handling and Braking

Few compact cars can match the Mazda3's fun, lively handling. It has accurate, sharp steering and good agility through turns. Its brakes are also strong. Sport-tuned competitors like the Volkswagen GTI and Ford Focus ST offer similarly sporty driving dynamics. However, their rides aren’t as smooth as the Mazda3's.

  • "Unlike the VW GTI or Ford Focus ST, the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback don't sacrifice a smooth, comfortable ride at the altar of great handling. The 6-speed manual is one of the best in the industry and is matched in efficiency and fun by the 6-speed automatic with manual mode." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Strong brakes reign things in when needed, while the s model's 18-inch alloy wheels impact ride quality only slightly." -- Left Lane News
  • "The 2015 Mazda 3 is one of the most engaging vehicles to drive in its price range, as it handles well and offers responsive and precise steering. And for the most part, the 3 has a refined, substantial-feeling ride quality." -- Edmunds (2015)

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