It’s okay that the 2015 Mazda3 Sport GT with a manual transmission will not appeal to the majority of Mazda3 buyers, because the select minority to whom it is targeted are EXTREMELY HAPPY! Why? It’s got a six-speed manual gearbox mated to Mazda3’s “big” engine, a combination that was not available for the 2014 model year when the latest Mazda3 Sport GT was introduced, and a combination that really must be available in this class of higher performance compact cars.

The engine is the 2.5L four-cylinder that makes 185 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and a lusty 184 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm (it’s also found in the Mazda6 midsize sedan). It’s a direct-injected, high-compression engine – part of Mazda’s new Skyactiv engineering strategy – that requires regular fuel from which it’s predicted to efficiently consume 9.2/6.6 L/100 km, city/highway, a double-win for owners.

Base price for this model is $26,995 plus $1,695 freight for a total of $28,690. Our car added the $300 Soul Mica Red paint option, a $1,959 dealer installed M001 Style wheel/tire option package and a $1,500 Luxury Package that includes leather trimmed upholstery, leather-look door trim, six-way power seat and manual lumbar support for the driver and auto-dimming rear-view mirror for a total, including freight, of $32,449.

The GT model, however, is very well equipped without additional options, including bi-xenon headlights, LED taillights, fog lights, nine-speaker premium Bose audio, rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic headlights. It also comes with navigation, sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, rear-view camera, automatic dual-zone climate control, hands-free locks and push-button start.

For those who’d like more electronic safety equipment and fuel efficiency in their Mazda3 Sport GT, there is a $2,500 Technology Package that offers a Blind Spot Monitoring System, Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Front Lighting, i-ELOOP regenerative braking and, unfortunately for those who only want satellite radio… satellite radio. However, there is one condition: the Technology Package is only available with the automatic transmission model.

Mazda’s Kodo “Soul of Motion” design is now featured across the range of its vehicles. According to Mazda, it “intricately blends dynamism with emotional appeal evoking an intelligent, dignified and spirited poise.” According to me, and I think most other commentators, the Mazda3 Sport GT is a terrific-looking car. With the extreme smiley-face look of the previous generation quickly relegated to the “oops, never mind…” bin, the car is lower, much wider, has a longer wheelbase and is sleeker than the outgoing models, possessing a distinctive and pleasing look that effectively communicates Mazda’s sporty and youthful branding. Its unusually long hood gives the impression there’s a straight-six up front.

2015 Mazda3 Sport GT 6MT2015 Mazda3 Sport GT 6MT2015 Mazda3 Sport GT 6MT gauges
2015 Mazda3 Sport GT 6MT, gauges. Click image to enlarge

The interior is as nicely rendered as the exterior. Materials have a quality look and feel, and ergonomics are, for the most part, successfully managed. Ours had the two-tone off-white leather upholstery; very smart, in my opinion (black is also available) although the seats are not particularly comfortable for a long trip.

The Mazda Human Machine Interface (HMI) handles most of the car’s controls via a large rotary knob positioned between the front seats and a rather prominent display that sits atop the center stack. The display uses touchscreen technology to make entertainment/navigation/communications and applications/settings adjustments when the car is stationary, while a combination of voice activation and the rotary knob is used to make adjustments when in motion. It’s generally effective, although some common activities, like manually tuning the radio, require too many steps to accomplish (there is a volume control down low between the seats, but no dedicated tuning control).

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