I’d forgotten how much I love driving a sporty car. This week, I took the 2016 Mazda3 for a test drive and I loved the handling, the style, the comfort, and the extra features. It’s been awhile since I drove a 6-speed manual gearbox and its responsiveness was one of the most notable features of the experience. I could park it on a dime, the mileage was fantastic, and the viability, especially for a car, was exceptional. The 2016 Mazda 3 is a great option for families or singles.
Check out my 2016 Mazda 3 Review for more details
One of my worries with driving a 6-speed manual was rolling back on hills. I took the car to Palm Springs for a getaway and with a visit to the Aerial Tram and the Living Desert, the hills were endless. I had to park on the side of a mountain at the Aerial Tram and go over multiple speed bumps on hills during the drive to the Living Desert. I didn’t stall the car once. You can let out the clutch on a hill and it doesn’t roll back. It’s so much more responsive than older manuals. After only a few minutes of driving, I was shifting without hesitation or pause. Even in stop and go traffic during rush hour on the drive home, it didn’t buck or shake. If you want to learn how to drive a stick, use the Mazda 3. It was a breeze.
The other concern I had about driving a car was comfort. I usually feel like I’m sitting on the ground in a car and there is minimal support in the back seat for Athena. The Mazda 3 has comfy seats that wrap your body. I didn’t feel like I was low to the ground and even after two hours of driving, my legs weren’t sore from being cramped. Athena was in her booster seat and she was sleeping within the first ten minutes of the drive. She could rest her head against the seat and it cradled her better than any other vehicle we’ve been in since she was born. Her head wasn’t bobbing or falling low against the door. When she was awake, she pulled down the arm rest with cup holders and played with her toys there. It was the perfect spot for a bottle of water as well. In her new booster seat, there are no cup holders. It’s ideal to have them in the back seat. With that in mind, it’s also helpful to have leather seats. They can get hot in the desert but they are easy to wipe off. Athena’s feet were dusty and it got on the back of the seat. It came off with one swipe of a wet cloth because of the leather. Kids, even princesses like Athena, like to snack and they get dirty. Leather seats seem like a no-brainer.
The suspension and dynamics of the car are what really made me consider it as a serious contender. Speed bumps, tight turns, and mountains can make me feel like I’m driving in a tank when I’m in our van. I feel every bump and the turns really require a reduction in speed. The Mazda 3 handled like a high-end sports car. It made driving on the winding mountains fun. We put the sun roof back and the windows down as we rode down the switchbacks. I would never drive recklessly, but it’s nice to have a smooth ride with precise handling and quick acceleration.
Obviously with a child, safety is the most important aspect of any vehicle. The Mazda 3 is fitted with six airbags: front and side bags for each front-seat passenger, and side-curtain bags stretching the full length of the cabin. There also are several systems that use a combination of camera and radar-based sensing to assist and alert the driver in potentially hazardous situations. Grouped together under the name i-ActivSense, they include adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning alert, and headlights that switch automatically between low and high beams. There’s also a forward-obstruction warning system, which alerts drivers if the car is closing too quickly on an obstacle directly ahead. My favorite feature is the blind-spot monitoring system. An orange light comes on in the side mirror to let you know that a vehicle is in your blind-spot. I still do shoulder checks but it takes the worry out of changing lanes.
Another important safety feature is the Active Driving Display, real-time vehicle speed, turn-by-turn directions, and safety alerts are all displayed right in your line of sight. The Mazda Connect system uses a large, colorful, high-contrast touch-screen display that sits atop the dash. This system is quick with relatively easy-to-navigate menus that can be selected with the touch screen or with the rotary Command Controller. I could keep my eyes on the road while watching my speed and checking the navigation system.
The 2016 Mazda 3 is powerful yet fuel-efficient, sporty yet safe, and comfortable yet stylish. It’s a good fit for small families or singles and it made me see the benefits of driving a smaller vehicle. I hate to give it back.
Thanks to DriveShop for the opportunity to test drive the 2016 Mazda 3. As always, all options are my own.