’15 Mazda3 makes time for book meeting

Book committee members, from left, are Caroline Schomp, Tim Jackson, Bud Wells and Tim Coy. (Photo by Anneke vanHall, CADA)

Book committee members, from left, are Caroline Schomp, Tim Jackson, Bud Wells and Tim Coy. (Photo by Anneke vanHall, CADA)

The sharp-looking little compact, a 2015 model, got me to Denver on time early last week for a final meeting of the book committee before the volume’s delivery to the printer. The car is the Mazda3 five-door hatchback; the book is “The 100-Year Deal,” commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association (CADA). The four-member book committee of Tim Jackson, Caroline Schomp, Tim Coy and me met at the CADA headquarters building, 290 E. Speer Blvd., for a final look at the page proofs. A last-minute alteration was squeezing into the book a photo of a couple who operate a dealership way out on the Eastern Plains, just this side of Kansas. Initial distribution of the 332-page book will be at the CADA’s annual dinner gathering in late November, then it will go on sale to the public. A large part of the publication is a reprint of The Colorado Car Book, published in 1996.

The 2015 Mazda3 hatchback at City Park, Denver. (Bud Wells photo)

The 2015 Mazda3 hatchback at City Park, Denver. (Bud Wells photo)

The Mazda3 has evolved into a highly respectable competitor for such popular models as the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Sentra. I ought to know, for in the past four years, I’ve driven and reviewed more Mazda3s than any other model. Our recent sunny days brought out the best of shine in the 2015’s blue reflex mica exterior finish. Designers have toned down just a bit the “wide-smile” grille of the past for Mazda. Adding distinction to it sleek design is a well-sculpted rear hatch.

Prominent grille on ’15 Mazda3. (Bud Wells photo)

Prominent grille on ’15 Mazda3. (Bud Wells photo)

It is the S Grand Touring version, and is loaded with amenities. A 6-speed manual transmission has been made available to the bigger 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine for ‘15, and I thoroughly tested the matchup. The bigger engine, even with the manual tranny, falls short of the very high fuel mileage produced by Mazda’s smaller 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. The ’15 Mazda3 averaged 31.3 miles per gallon in a fairly even split of city/highway driving; its EPA estimate is 26/35. Previous models I’ve driven, with the smaller 2.0-liter, averaged from 32 to 36 mpg; they were rated as high as 41for highway miles. The 2.5 setup, with 30 more horsepower than the 2.0, is noticeably quicker in acceleration, and with a sporty suspension and the 6-speed manual transmission, is a step up in level of fun-drive. The manual wasn’t available with the 2.5 in 2014. The ’15 Mazda3 rides on Dunlop Sport 215/45R18 tires. Inside, it is dressed up with perforated leather seats (heated in front) and leather-covered steering wheel, shifter knob and park brake positioned between the driver and center console. A large upright display screen sits up in the center of the dash, appearing somewhat like an add-on feature. It is visible without lowering the driver’s sightline, though making selections from dials on the center console are a bit of distraction. It offers Bose sound, Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, navigation and Sirius. Among other items pushing the Mazda’s sticker price to $26,635 are dual-zone climate control, push-button start, rearview camera, cruise control, trip computer, paddle shifters, sunroof and rain-sensing windshield wipers. The rear seating area is somewhat tight on legroom, though headroom is plentiful. A temporary spare tire is stored beneath the floor in the cargo area. Fold the rear seat down and the cargo space expands from 20 cubic feet to a roomy 47 feet. The Mazda3 compact showed up in 2003, while still a part of Ford Motor Co. Second-generation model was introduced for the ’10 model year. Today’s third-generation, built in Japan, is wholly independent. Here are the specifications for the ’15 Mazda3 5-door Grand Touring:

  • Wheelbase 106.3 inches
  • Length 175.6 inches
  • Width 70.2 inches
  • Height 57.3 inches
  • Curb Weight 2,978 pounds
  • Track 61.2 inches front, 61.4 rear
  • Ground Clearance 6.1 inches
  • Turn Circle 34.8 feet
  • Drivetrain Front-wheel-drive
  • Engine 2.5-liter 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower/Torque 184/185
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Steering electric power-assisted
  • Fuel mileage estimate 26/35
  • Fuel mileage average 31.3
  • Fuel Tank 13.2 gallons, regular unleaded
  • Wheels 18-inch
  • Cargo Volume 20.2 cubic feet
  • Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles basic, 5/60,000 powertrain

Competitors Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Cruze, Nissan Sentra Assembly Plant Hofu, Japan Parts Content Japan 85% Base Price of Lowest Model $17,750; Base Price of Review Model $25,545; Destination Charge $795; Sticker Price $26,635.