2014 Mazda3 has been completely redesigned for this model year
If the 2014
Mazda3 wore a Honda or Toyota badge, there would be a waiting list
to buy one. But since it wears a Mazda badge, it’s ignored by
myopic car buyers used to buying other brands. Too bad; they don’t
know what they’re missing.
As was the
case in 2013, the new Mazda3 is available as a four-door sedan or
five-door hatchback. There are four trim levels. The base SV model
is available only on the sedan, while the Sport, Touring and Grand
Touring are offered in either body style.
wear Mazda’s sporty new design language, which gives the car a
sense of motion. A five-sided grille serves as its anchor, framed in
chrome trim that sweeps up to meet the sculpted hood, fenders and
doors. It looks fast.
obsession with speed and performance continues.
cluster is dominated by a large tachometer; a small digital readout
provides the car’s speed. This sporty aura is reinforced by paddle
shifters mounted on the steering wheel that allow for manual shifts
of the automatic transmission. A new head-up display system, which
the company calls Active Driving Display, is mounted above the
instrument cluster and provides vehicle speed, navigation and other
But this car’s
goodness goes beyond style. Check out the new infotainment system
that’s displayed on the 7-inch screen atop the center console. It’s
much more useful than those in older Mazdas, which had screens that
were smaller than many smartphones. This new system includes a
text-to-voice option that reads aloud text messages and Facebook
updates when the car is moving.
panel is framed in piano black and satin silver trim that gives the
vehicle a bit of panache. On the test car, the white seats and door
trim were a relief.
comfortable and supportive. Head- and legroom were more than
sufficient up front, although a bit dearer in the back. Of course,
you may not care about rear-seat legroom once you toss the Mazda3
four-cylinder engines are offered: a 155-horsepower 2.0-liter mated
to six-speed manual or automatic transmission, and a 184-horsepower
2.5-liter, which comes only with the automatic. The larger engine is
available only on Touring and Grand Touring models; the smaller one
is available on all models. The four trims — SV, Sport, Touring
and Grand Touring — are preceded by an I for the smaller engine,
or an S for the larger one.
Mazda sent a fully loaded five-door S Grand Touring model. It was a
lively driving companion, proving to be more fun than most cars in
this class. It’s as if the company injected the Mazda3 with some
of the Miata’s DNA. Few fuel-sippers are this much fun to drive.
Credit goes to
the car’s snubbed-down suspension, allowing the Mazda3 to be
driven as if you stole it. It snakes through corners while remaining
absolutely flat. The trade-off is a fairly stiff ride, but it’s
worth the compromise. Unfortunately, you’ll also have to contend
with a fair bit of road and tire noise.
performance, the Mazda3 returned 31 mpg in mixed driving due to the
car’s Intelligent Energy Loop system, or i-Eloop for short. This
option converts the car’s braking energy into electricity to power
components in the car and that, in turn, improves fuel economy.
But if you
need more than just good performance and fuel economy, the Mazda3
has a long list of options. They include blind-spot monitoring, rear
cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, forward-obstruction
warning, radar cruise control, adaptive front lighting, rear-view
camera, heated leather seats, automatic headlamps and rain-sensing
Of course, all
of this goodness comes at a price. While the Mazda3 starts at
$16,945 for the I SV, it goes as high as $26,495 for a
top-of-the-line S Grand Touring. With options, the test car came to
$30,260. That’s pricey for a mass-market compact, but not for one
as well equipped and as capable as the Mazda3.
if you’re looking for a new small car, take off your blinders and
head to your Mazda dealer for a test drive. You may end up not going
2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder
space: 20.2-47.1 cubic feet (five-door)
(city/highway): 28/38 mpg
consumption: 31 mpg
base model: $16,945
test model: $26,495
including destination charge: $30,260