2015 Mazda3 Sport GT
A manual gearbox makes things even better
The Mazda3 has already sent time in the Carpages Garage…what’s different this time around?
Thankfully, not much has changed since we last drove a loaded GT with the 2.5 litre engine and 6-speed automatic. It’s still one of the most compelling choices in the compact car space, a vehicle that feels far more premium than its price suggests. This time around, an honest-to-goodness manual gearbox is available alongside the automatic, a choice enthusiasts would be well advised to make.
So everything is the same except for the gearbox?
What’s the manual’s impact on the driving experience?
If you relish the task of swapping cogs on your own, you’ll agree that the Mazda3 becomes even better to drive. While the gearbox isn’t perfect- it’s hobbled somewhat by a shifter that lacks the same laser guided precision as the MX-5 we sampled earlier and the clutch pedal has a little more travel than we’d like- it is still the best you can get in this class (actually, fewer and fewer manufacturers are even offering manuals these days.) It’s mated to the familiar 2.5 litre Skyactiv engine that philosophically heads in a different direction that its competitors- big displacement, no turbos or superchargers- and feels like a good match for the engine. It’s kinda refreshing to have this old school setup and is always a hoot to run the engine up to the redline. Our 10.2L/100km consumption figure isn’t as good as what we achieved with the auto, but blame our penchant to wring out the engine at every opportunity.
Will there be a Mazdaspeed version?
There’s been a lot of on-again-off-again talk of a hotter version of the Mazda3. It would make sense- almost all of its competitors have a model that caters to the sportier set. If there was to be a Mazdaspeed version, AWD would have to be a possibility. And if it’s going to be quicker than the last generation Mazdaspeed it’ll need more than 263 horsepower- perhaps a tuned version of the new turbo four meant for the CX-9 could be tapped for motivational duties. Whichever route they choose, it should be a blast to drive.
So what’s the bad news?
Actually, there really isn’t much to complain about. Mazda’s 3 is universally loved by all who own one, and more than a few of us auto scribes have said that if we were to pony up our own dollars and cents the 3 would be the compact we’d most likely put in our driveways- high praise indeed. As we know, no car is perfect and the Mazda3 is no exception. It suffers from the aforementioned under hood cacophony on start-up, the Heads Up Display cannot be defeated for those who wish and the gearbox does suffer from a smidgeon of imprecision. These issues certainly require a deep reach into the bag of Nits to Pick, but there we are.
Should I buy one?
We’d have to say that the Mazda3 should be on every compact class shopping list, especially if the buyer places fun-to-drive anywhere near the top of their list of must-haves. Since it hit the streets in 2013, its easily been among best in class and feels more sorted than a few entry level luxury cars that cost thousands more.
2015 Mazda3 Sport GT — Specifications
- Price as tested: $30,490
- Body Type: 4-door, 5-passenger sedan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/front-wheel drive
- Engine: 2.5-litre inline-4, DOHC, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 184 @ 5,700 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.) 185 @ 3,250 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Curb weight: 1,361 kg (3,000 lbs.)
- Observed combined fuel economy: 10.2L/100 km (23 mpg)