Models designated "i" get a 148-horsepower, 2.0L four-cylinder engine, while "s" models get a 156-horsepower, 2.3L four-cylinder. California-emissions states get slightly detuned, partial zero emission vehicle (PZEV) versions of the engines making 144 horsepower and 151 horsepower respectively. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on all models. An automatic transmission is optional on both--it's a four-speed on i models and a five-speed on s.
Sedans are available in either i or s trim, allowing a choice of either engine, but five-door hatchbacks come only in s trim. The 2.3L offers peppier performance with only slightly lower fuel economy; with the manual, the 2.0L gets 28 miles per gallon city, 35 highway while the 2.3L is rated at 26 city, 33 highway.
At the top of the line, there's also a high-performance Mazdaspeed3, which brings a 250-horsepower, turbocharged, direct-injection 2.3L four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission, stability control, a limited-slip differential, a sport-tuned suspension with thick stabilizer bars, sport-tuned exhaust, and unique trim inside. Equal-length drive shafts and a smart electronic control of turbo boost help avoid the torque steer that sometimes accompanies high-power front-wheel drive cars.
Handling is a strong point for all Mazda3 s, with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link rear suspension. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and brake assist are standard on s models and optional on i models. Seat-mounted side air bags and roof-mounted curtain air bags are optional on all models, and stability control is optional on some s models, standard on others.
Sport models come with manual windows, locks, and mirrors, and lack standard air conditioning, though many other desirable features come standard, such as tilt steering, a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, rear heater ducts, and a four-speaker CD audio system. Touring models bring much more equipment, including alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, stability control, side air bags, side curtain bags, an upgraded instrument panel, air conditioning, a six-speaker sound system, and power brakes, windows, and locks. Grand Touring models add keyless entry, cruise control, and several other features not usually seen on cars in this price class, such as xenon headlamps, heated sport seats, and electroluminescent gauges.