For a car with this kind of athletic performance, long list of features, and high build quality, it's just not typical of what we expect from an "economy" car. Yet, the 2009 Mazda 3 is again priced like one, but doesn't look or drive like one. It remains one of the top cars in its segment.
Standard features abound on the Mazda 3. And how many economy cars offer available upscale features such as heated power seats, leather upholstery, xenon headlights and a seven-speaker audio system? Well, the 2009 Mazda 3 does.
The compact and versatile Mazda 3 comes as either a four-door sedan or "five-door" hatchback. The sedan has five trim levels: i Sport, i Touring Value, s Sport, s Touring and s Grand Touring. The hatchback is available in s trims only.
Standard on the i Sport are dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, antilock 4-wheel disc brakes, brake assist, tire-pressure monitor, emergency inside trunklid release, 15 inch steel wheels, a tilt/telescoping steering column, a 60/40-split rear seat with a center armrest, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, a four-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player, an auxiliary audio jack, pre-wiring for satellite radio, outside-temperature indicator, variable-intermittent wipers, rear defogger, and a theft-deterrent system.
The i Touring Value model adds full power accessories, keyless entry, foglights, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, driver-seat height adjustment, 17 inch alloy wheels, and six speaker sound.
The s Sport sedan comes with 16 inch alloy wheels (17 on the hatchback), a bigger engine, slight changes in the front and rear fascias, different interior trim, plus electroluminescent gauges.
The s Touring adds 17 inch alloys on the sedan as well as body sill extensions.
And the s Grand Touring adds leather upholstery, a six-way power driver seat, heated front seats, auto on/off xenon headlights, automatic rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control, and a trip computer.
A navigation system with satellite radio and a seven-speaker Bose stereo system with an in-dash six-CD changer are available as options on the Grand Touring.
The CD changer and a sunroof are available as stand-alone options on all the Mazda 3 models with the exception of the i Sport.
The Mazda 3 i sedan is powered by a 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 148 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque. It's matched to a standard five-speed manual transmission, while a four-speed automatic with automanual override is a popular option. An automatic Mazda 3 i goes from 0 to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds.
Gas mileage performance for the automatic 3 i is EPA-estimated at 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. Fuel efficiency improves by 2 mpg with the manual transmission.
The Mazda 3 s sedan and hatchback are equipped with a 2.3 liter four-cylinder engine that produces 156 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual is the standard transmission, with an optional five-speed automatic with manual shift control. The 0 to 60 time on an automatic 3 s is 8.6 seconds.
Gas mileage for the automatic s is 22 mpg city and 28 on the highway.
The Mazda 3 MazdaSpeed comes in Sport and Grand Touring trims and is equipped with a 263 horsepower turbocharged 2.3 liter engine and is available with a 6-speed manual transmission only.
Standard on the MazdaSpeed Sport are 18 inch wheels, performance tires, a limited-slip front differential, sport seats, a tilt/telescoping steering column, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with built-in audio and cruise controls, automatic climate control, a roof spoiler, unique Mazdaspeed interior trim, electroluminescent gauges, a six-speaker stereo, CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and pre-wiring for satellite radio.
The Grand Touring Mazdaspeed 3 adds leather seat bolsters, rain-sensing wipers, auto on/off xenon headlights, LED taillights, a trip computer and a seven-speaker Bose stereo with an in-dash six-CD changer. Optional on the Grand Touring is navigation with satellite radio.
The 0 to 60 time on this athletic vehicle is just 5.9 seconds. And it races through the quarter-mile in only 14.2 seconds. Of course, the turbocharged power reduces gas mileage to 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
2009 Mazda 3 Sport Sedan:
i Sport, manual: listed retail price: $14,690, invoice price: $13,777
i Sport, automatic: listed retail price: $15,590, invoice price: $14,616
s Sport, manual: listed retail price: $18,135, invoice price: $16,989
s Sport, automatic: listed retail price: $19,085, invoice price: $17,875
2009 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback:
s Sport, manual: listed retail price: $18,625, invoice price: $17,446
s Sport, automatic: listed retail price: $19,575, invoice price: $18,332