2016 Mazda MAZDA3 Walk Around

Mazda calls its design language Kodo, or soul of motion, and the Mazda3, especially the hatchback, is one of the most eye-catching compact cars out there.

The contemporary design looks like it was influenced by a sports car, maybe the BMW Z4 because the hood is so long, like it came off the Mazda6 sedan. It’s got a blunt front end, aggressive grille, thin sweeping headlamps, that long hood with rearward A-pillars, and a rearward cab. It’s quite aerodynamic.

The shoulder line along the sides sweeps back gracefully, with crisp edges and gentle curves, leading to pointed taillights. The roofline has a hint of fastback that ends in a softly rounded hatch. It looks svelte and sexy. Yet for all the long curves, it still looks taut.


That long hood steals some from interior space, and the roofline steals some from cargo space in the hatchback. Good legroom remains in the supportive front seats, but the roofline brings the ceiling down in the rear of the hatchback.

The cockpit is focused on the driver, with the controls thoughtfully located on both sides of the steering wheel where the driver can easily reach them. The instrumentation looks high tech, again not like your everyday compact. There’s a large central analog cluster with wings that display digital information. There’s an available Active Driving Display that’s like a head-up display, rising from the dash and showing speed, turn-by-turn directions, and more.

The trim on the center stack and doors is glossy black, which looks cheap despite satin chrome highlights.

A big and colorful touch screen on the dash controls infotainment functions. Unlike in the Mazda6 sedan and CX-5 crossover, it’s quick, and easy to navigate. If you don’t want to use the touch screen, it can be operated with the rotary Command Controller.

Mazda’s latest systems include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning alert, and auto high/low beam headlamps. There’s also an alert if the car is closing too quickly on something, and a Smart City Brake Support system that applies the brakes at up to 19 mph if it thinks you’re going to hit something.

One unusual mechanical design is the gas pedal, which is hinged at the bottom. We like it; it’s more comfortable.

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