NEW FOR 2009:

– Sedan models with keyless entry have trunk release button on key fob

For 2009, there are no changes to models in the Mazda3 line-up, save for an enhanced key fob on sedan models.

The Mazda3 line-up consists of the Mazda3 sedan and Mazda3 Sport hatchback in GX, GS and GT trim lines, and the Mazdaspeed3, which comes in a single trim line.

Three engines are available. The sedan and Sport GX and GS use a 2.0-litre four-cylinder with five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission. The GT models use a 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine, with five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic. The Mazdaspeed3 comes exclusively with a turbocharged 2.3-litre engine with six-speed manual transmission.

Features on the GX sedan include 15-inch steel wheels, manual mirrors, exterior temperature gauge, tilt and telescopic wheel, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, cloth seats, floor mats, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, and centre console with lid.

The GS adds 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, power locks and windows, illuminated vanity mirrors, glove box lock, rain-sensing wipers, auto light control, trip computer, cruise control, illuminated entry, wheel-mounted audio controls and keyless entry.

The GT adds 17-inch alloy wheels, anti-theft system, heated "sporty" cloth seats, leather-wrapped wheel, LED taillights, sporty bumpers, side sill extensions, fog lights, electroluminescent gauges and Xenon headlamps.

The Sport models are similarly equipped, but add a rear wiper, and the GS and GT include a cargo management system.

Features on the Mazdaspeed3 include 18-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, automatic climate control, sport suspension, oversized front and rear brakes, Mazdaspeed unique grille, bumpers, side sills and rear spoiler, fog lights, auto light control, LED taillamps, rain-sensing wipers, intermittent rear wiper, Xenon headlamps, Mazdaspeed cloth bucket seats, alloy pedals, leather-wrapped wheel with red stitching, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, exterior temperature gauge, cruise control, power locks with keyless entry, power windows, unique electroluminescent gauges, and six-CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input and Sirius satellite radio.

The Mazda3 shares its platform with the Volvo S40 and European Ford Focus, but its powertrain is unique to Mazda. It is an exceptional vehicle for the price, with sharp handling, flat cornering, tight turning radius, and good performance even with the base engine. Inside, the Mazda3 is roomy and comfortable, with plenty of storage space, especially with the hatchback versions.

The Mazdaspeed3 ups the driving pleasure: it’s lightning-fast, well-balanced and extremely stiff, but well-mannered enough that it’s comfortable to drive in traffic. The engine’s power is managed by a computer system that attempts to limit torque steer, but even so, there’s a lot of it.

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