MPG-o-Matic Mazda3 Review Summary: The Mazda3 is a fun to drive sport compact. We easily blew past the official gas mileage estimates in our extended test drive.
The Mazda3 is available as both a four door sedan and a five door hatch. It competes with the Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, and Chevy Cobalt, among many others in the red hot small car market.
The Mazda3 can be purchased with a 2.0 liter or 2.3 liter inline four cylinder engine, depending on the model. Our copper red mica four-door touring model was fitted with the 2.3 liter engine, which produces 156 horsepower and 150 foot pounds of torque.
The official gas mileage estimates for the 2008 2.3 liter Mazda3 are 22 city / 29 highway miles per gallon (MPG) with the five-speed automatic transmission.
We absolutely demolished the official highway estimate, scoring an impressive 36.2 MPG on the highway over hundreds of miles of Interstate travel.
In combined testing, our Mazda3 delivered 28.6 MPG.
The smaller engine is relegated to the less-expensive iTouring and iSport models. While less powerful, the 2.0 liter scores mileage figures approximately 10 percent higher than the 2.3 liter.
The 2.3 liter engine delivers spirited performance, made all the more fun when shifting the automatic transmission manually.
If we have one nit to pick with the Mazda3, it’s that the trip computer can only be found in the top of the line S Grand Touring model.
Consequently, our non-S Touring test unit lacked both an average mile per gallon and real-time MPG readouts. Since MPGomatic is all about the mileage, we whipped out our trusty ScanGaugeII and plugged it into the Mazda3’s OBDII port to keep track of our mileage results.
Other then that shortcoming, the Mazda3 Touring’s standard feature list is quite complete. The standard exterior features include 17-inch alloy rims, side sill extensions, four-wheel disc brakes, and integrated halogen fog lights …
It all adds up to one good looking car.
The Three’s interior should appeal to the sport minded, with tilt and telescopic steering, a leather wrapped wheel, and a dashboard that looks pretty cool, both day and night. (The S trim level takes it up another notch with white gauges and blue electroluminescent lighting.)
The Mazda3’s iPod integration consists of a clean and concealed center console line-in port. Our teen tester gave the audio system high marks for both its eardrum rattling capability and its nifty red display.
After a long road trip, we’re happy to give the Mazda3 a big thumbs up for performance, fuel economy, and that all-important cool factor. There’s no question why the Three has become the in-car for so many kids of all ages.
– by Daniel Gray