2009 Mazda MAZDA3 S GT Sedan Review – The Renaissance Car

Expert Reviews Mazda


WIth the exception of the VW Rabbit GTI, the MAZDA3 interior blows away every other compact car in its class, and some even outside its class. But take note – although the Rabbit GTI might have an interior that rivals the 3, in similar trim to the 3, the GTI’s MSRP nears $30K. Our MAZDA3? $22,500.

What makes the MAZDA3 interior so terrific is its sporting feel mixed with a touch of luxury. For instance, the red illuminated face gauges in italics make it feel fast even when it’s parked in the driveway, and the three oval gauge faces are reminiscent of the RX-8. Another RX-8 touch can be seen in the leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel. It felt amazing. We couldn’t keep our hands off of it. A third feature in the 3 that pays homage to the RX-8 are its leather seats. Equipped with optional heaters, the 3′s bucket seats are sporty without over-bolstering its occupants while also feeling luxurious without feeling like an overstuffed pillow.

The HVAC controls are simple, circular dials which get the job done, and are backed by our absolute favorite material – brilliant piano black plastic. Unlike that cheap-o, wear-out-in-a-week silver plastic found in some competitor interiors, the shiny black panels on the 3 give it a touch of quality and class. The optional Bose stereo with six-disc changer not only has a clean, sporting appearance , but also delivers exceptional sound quality.

In the back, at least with the sedan, things are a little bit tight. Rear seat headroom is low, forcing six-footers to slouch to prevent static electric hair on the headliner. Legroom is also a bit tight, but for a compact car, space is adequate. On the plus side, rear seats in the sedan fold down, providing a wealth of cargo room beyond it’s 11.5 cubic feet of already generous trunk space.

Quite simply, the MAZDA3 has the best interior of any car in its class and price range. Period.


Whether you’re talking about the CX-7, the MX-5 Miata, the RX-8, Mazda’s design team has been cranking out one incredible design after another, and the 3 is no exception. Although we’re more partial to the appearance of the 3 hatchback, the 3 sedan is still a looker. Sharp angles, sweeping lines, 17-inch alloy wheels, clear-lens Xenon headlights and LED taillights, and that grinning grille which begs all comers to flog the throttle, the 3 is by far the sportiest-looking compact car – even in it’s most base, econobox trim.


With a sticker price of $22,500 which includes options like leather, heated, power (driver) seats, 7-speaker Bose audio with Sirius, aux input and six-disc changer, power steering, windows and door locks, cruise, rain-sensing wipers, climate control, tire pressure montioring system, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, DSC, TCS, leather-wrapped steering wheel, remote keyless entry and a power moonroof, not to mention a 156 horsepower engine which does 0-60 in 7.5 seconds and gets 30 mpg on the freeway….does that sound like a good value to you? ‘Nuff said.

Who Should Buy It?

The question here isn’t ‘who should buy it?’ The question here is ‘who shouldn’t buy it?’ The answer? An idiot. Seriously. If you’re in the market for a compact car, and have any interest in owning one with some soul, personality and sportiness, this is the one. If everybody in this country could manage to live their life driving a car like the MAZDA3, humankind would be better for it. There’d be less fuel consumption. There’d be less air pollution. There’d be more parking spaces. There’d be fewer rollovers and fatalities. There be more drivers who love their cars and take care of them.


No, we’re not on the staff of Mazda North America Marketing, and no we are not being paid under the table for this glowing review. If we haven’t already convinced you that this is one of the best cars of the decade, then you just have to go and drive one. And with rumors that the upcoming all-new 2010 MAZDA3 might possibly get a brand new 1.6 liter Rotary engine, what we though was a car that couldn’t get any sportier just might.

All sportiness aside, on the everyday/utilitarian/commuter side of life, the MAZDA3 performs exceptionally well in all categories. If we could have only one car to drive for under $25K, and just one, without hesitation it would be the MAZDA3; the Renaissance Car for the 2000′s.

Build Interior Performance Handling Styling Value Overall
Rating 5.0 5.0 4.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.8/A-

Official website for Mazda cars, trucks, and SUVs – www.mazdausa.com

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  • derek says:

    Mazda plans to recall about 514,000 vehicles worldwide to repair power-steering systems because of the risk that they could lose power steering without warning.

    The recall will affect the Mazda 3 and the Mazda 5 manufactured in Japan from 2007 to 2009. Currently, Mazda has filed recalls for 215,000 vehicles in the United States and more than 10,000 in China. The recalls will also extend to Europe and Australia.

    The recall comes about a year after Mazda started fixing vehicles in Japan for the same problem. But Mazda told the NHTSA that since the “occurrence rate was low” in the United States it issued only a technical service bulletin to dealers telling them how to fix the problem.

    So far, three accidents related to the defect have been reported in the United States. None of these accidents resulted in death or injury.

    Mazda says the problem is that rust can form inside a high-pressure pipe in the power steering system and allow particles to enter the motorized power steering pump, causing it to shut down to prevent the pump from overheating.

    The automaker said it would begin to notify affected owners of the recall in September and send notices to all owners by February.

  • Jeff says:

    Thanks for the excellent review. Really covered all the bases.

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