2014 Mazda Mazda3: First drive review
The 41-mpg Mazda3 puts the 'fun' in functional.
The Mazda Mazda3 is the Japanese automaker's clean-up hitter, accounting for 30 percent of global sales and 3.5 million units sold since it hit the streets in 2003. Needless to say, there is a lot riding on the all-new 2014 edition of this sporty compact.
The Mazda3 is distinguished by two variants, i and s, each offered with multiple trim levels. The Mazda3 i features a 2.0-liter engine, while the Mazda3 s relies on a larger 2.5-liter 4-cylinder mill. Both drivetrains are also available on the CX-5 SUV.
The smaller-engine i trims are SV ($16,945), Sport ($18,445), Touring ($19,595) or Grand Touring ($22,745). For the s, pricing starts at $24,595 for a Touring and $25,995 for a GT. The Mazda3 is available as a 4-door sedan or 5-door hatch, but the SV is only offered as a sedan. Opting for an automatic adds $1,050 to the price of any car.
Standard fare in the SV includes push-button start, automatic power door locks, a remote keyless entry system, daytime running lights and a USB connection port. Also standard are a matte-finish front grille, 16-inch steel wheels, body-color door handles and bumpers, dual-power folding outside mirrors, power windows, a tilt-and-telescopic adjustable steering column, air conditioning with a pollen filter, trim-specific cloth sport seats, a fold-down rear seat, a four-speaker AM/FM audio system and an auxiliary input jack.
Stepping into a Sport nets illuminated steering wheel controls, a 60/40 split fold-flat rear seat, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio connectivity, cruise control, a trip computer, a CD player, map lights, body-color side mirrors and a tachometer.
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The mid-level i Touring trim additions include heated body-color folding outside mirrors with turn signal indicators; a rear-seat folding armrest with cupholders; the Mazda Advanced Keyless Entry & Start system; a leather-wrapped brake handle, shift knob and 3-spoke steering wheel ; and 16-inch alloy wheels. A blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert is standard on all i Touring trims.
A Mazda Touring Technology package is available for all i Touring trims. It adds dual-zone automatic climate control, an overhead console, shark fin antenna and MAZDA CONNECT, which features a 7-inch full-color touch-screen display, an SD card-based navigation system, a multifunction commander control for display screen operations, a rearview camera and a Bose 9-speaker surround sound system.
The i Grand Touring is available with either manual or automatic transmissions and features the equipment of an i Touring with the Technology package as well as a 6-way power-adjustable driver's seat with manual lumbar adjustment, leatherette seats and door panel inserts, variable heated front seats and a moonroof.
The interior is a strong point for the Mazda3. It has a spacious feel and simplified controls. Materials and fit-and-finish are excellent, and the seats are comfortable. Substantial side bolstering gives the nod to the sportier GT seats over those in the Touring, which has more substantial padding in the seat bottom. It's hard to detect the difference between leatherette and leather materials, so "test sit" before jumping up to full leather. Only the leather buckets can be two-tone to add contrast in the cabin.
The Mazda3 can be equipped with a head-up display dubbed Active Driving Display. It's a clear pop-up panel that provides vehicle speed, navigation directions and other pertinent driving information with a quick glance. The gauge cluster positions a big, centrally mounted dial that can house either a tachometer or speedometer, depending on whether the car has a head-up display and the type of transmission. The main dial is flanked by a winglike display that shows fuel level, trip, mileage and other information. We found these too small to read quickly.
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We test drove the 3 sport and loved it at first drive. Then a thought crossed my mind: what if they put a turbo on this thing, made it a two door, and a convertible.....hmmm, just think of it. Adding another 40 horses under the hood with the GT and it would be around 220, plus great mileage. Open road anybody?
Anyway, we are going to purchase a 3 in the future. I would say to any civic or corolla owners to check out the 3, you'll be surprised to see what you find.
Then the stupid smiley face front end came out for years and years. Ruining what good looks the 3 had. The only thing it had was good brakes and agile handling. But no aftermarket support except for the speed3 which has a weak motor and can't safely make more than hp before needing rods, piston s and head work to strengthen these items.
No thanks Mazda. Lesson learned.