Gimme Five: The 2015 Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring

Front view of 2015 Mazda 3 5-Door Grand Touring
The 2015 Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring.
The Mazda 3 four-door sedan has held a firm place on the TireKicker's Best Cars list in the right column of this page ever since this generation of Mazda's compact was introduced.  That changes today.  The one to have...is the five-door.

2015 Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring.
Specifically, the Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring.  A mouthful, yes.  But it's everything a compact car should be...practical, stylish, versatile, delivering great gas mileage and...here's the best part...with some power and handling to make it all fun.

The Zoom-Zoom in the Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring comes from a Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter four that makes 184 horsepower and comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. Thankfully, our tester came that way, too...making the week we spent in it just that much more fun. The stick maximizes power, and we found the EPA-estimated  mileage of 26 city/35 highway to be easily attainable.  And the handling is just sublime.  A complete and total blast to drive.

Base price for the S Grand Touring is $25,545. It brings that powertrain as well as 18-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated power side mirrors with integrated turn signals, fog lamps, dual exhaust with bright outlets, an anti-theft engine immobilizer, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, tire pressure monitoring, dynamic stability control, traction control, hill launch assist, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, and a full complement of airbags.

Interior view of 2015 Mazda 3 5-door Grand Touring.
2015 Mazda 3 S 5-Door Grand Touring interior.
The standard features list rolls on from there, with a moonroof, auto on/off bi-Xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED combination taillights, adaptive front lighting, leather-trimmed sport seats, a 6-way power driver's seat with manual lumbar adjustment, variable heated front seats, dual-zone auto climate control, power windows and locks, keyless entry, pushbutton start, an automatically dimming rear-view mirror with HomeLink, a 60/40 split foldown rear seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and brake handle, a 7-inch color touch-screen display, rearview camera, navigation, a 9-speaker Bose Centerpoint audio system with AM/FM/HD Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, CD, Pandora, Stitcher and aha, bluetooth, USB and SMS text message delivery and reply, steering wheel mounted controls and paddle shifters.

That all adds up to one seriously well-equipped sport compact for $25,545. Still, the Mazda press fleet folks found a few options to fold in...$70 for a cargo mat, $200 for special snowflake white pearl paint, $100 for a rear bumper guard, $125 for scuff plates and door sill trim plates and $1,700 for the Appearance Package, which adds a front air dam, door mirror caps, a rear hatch spoiler, rear bumper skirt and side sill extensions.

Bottom line with all of the above plus $795 delivery, processing and handling fee: $28,585.  Not cheap, no.  But that's for a seriously loaded example of what is, so far, the best compact we've driven.  If we were playing with our own money over a four or five-year new car loan, this is the one we'd take.