The Mazda 3 has been a popular choice by enthusiasts as a sporty yet practical alternative to the sea of mundane compact cars. The latest Mazda 3 has impressed journalists and buyers alike with its award-winning interior quality and superb handling—but what of its sound system? For the Mazda 3’s radio, Mazda continued its partnership with Bose. Let’s see how the Mazda 3 Bose system stacks up to the competition!
Available in Premium, 2.5 Turbo, and 2.5 Turbo Premium trims, the Mazda 3 Bose is a 12-speaker system with a subwoofer sitting in the spare wheel under the cargo floor. The system is equipped with Bose Centerpoint (a surround-sound function) and AudioPilot (adjusts sound levels based on ambient noise). We prefer the system with Centerpoint toggled off to avoid an artificial, hollow sound, but some testers appreciate it for softer music.
The infotainment possesses built-in Pandora streaming, Bluetooth, AM, FM, and SiriusXM satellite radio, and support for Android Auto and Apple Carplay. However, the screen can only be controlled by a center rotary knob; yes, there’s no touchscreen in the 2021 Mazda 3, not even when stationary. While there are two USB ports, there are no USB-C ports, disc player, or 3.5mm audio-jack.
After testing different genres of music, Charlie claimed the Bose system in the Mazda 3 to quite possibly be class-leading. The lack of touchscreen infotainment controls brings the Mazda’s functionality and ease of use down, but as long as you can get used to the knob control, this sound system is one of the best you can find at this price point and vehicle size. Hear it for yourself at the bottom of the page!
How We Test
Here at Daily Motor, we take audio systems seriously. That’s why we take every vehicle, from a budget hatchback like this Mazda 3 to supercars like the McLaren 570S, and put them through our rigorous sound-system testing. We use the same lossless, uncompressed WAV audio files on a USB drive plugged into the audio system so that every radio we test starts from the same baseline. To provide a realistic example for the sound experience, we record with high-quality binaural microphones. We test every stereo with their sound settings set to their factory defaults, because that’s how the radio’s engineers designed it to sound, but we test all the sound settings on many different genres of music before shooting the reviews. After demonstrating the sound settings, adjustments, inputs, speaker locations, and Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay functionality, we head out on the road to listen to our sample tracks at highway speeds. Most cars can sound great while stationary, but road, wind, and engine noise can deteriorate music fidelity. At the end of the test, we give an objective rating based on sound quality and overall system usage as well as a subjective rating factoring in vehicle attributes and price.