2012 MAZDA3 SP25 REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Small 5-door hatch
Price: $31,490 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 8.6 l/100km
Australia’s love affair with the Mazda3 is stronger than ever; the best-selling small car continues to top sales in both its own segment, and on the national sales charts.
Clearly, Australian car buyers, younger ones in the main, like what they see with the Mazda3.
With a more potent engine up front and bigger boots down below, the SP25 variant’s increased style and performance make it an even more enticing proposition.
Quality: You expect a high quality interior from Mazda and the SP25 doesn’t disappoint. Component fit and finish is excellent and a sporty feel to the interior styling enhances the car’s appeal .
Comfort: The leather seats proved supportive and comfortable on even the longest drives.
A tilt-and-reach steering column makes it easy to find a good driving position. Tall people will struggle in the rear seat but if you regularly transport adults in the back, you’re in the wrong category.
Equipment: the lavishly appointed interior features sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, dual-zone climate control, leather gear-knob and steering wheel with audio, trip computer and sat-nav controls, together with a premium Bose single-disc, ten-speaker audio with aux in and MP3/WMA compatibility.
Storage: The SP 25 interior provides plenty of storage space, with front door pockets, cup-holders and overhead sunglass storage box, a large centre console that takes care of smaller items, a deep glovebox for larger items and a cargo capacity of 276 litres, extendable via 60/40 seats.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: With 122kW and 227Nm of torque under the bonnet (an additional 9kW and 33Nm more than the 2.0 litre SkyActiv-powered Mazda 3), the SP25 is an enthusiastic performer - but swift rather than sporty.
It is certainly quicker in-gear and away from the line than its SkyActiv stablemates. Drivers however attracted to the car’s sporting personality may prefer a little more grunt.
Refinement: Engine noise is impressively low, but this allows tyre noise to become more apparent on open road driving, though not intrusive. The six-speed gearshift is precise, sporty and satisfying to use.
Suspension: The finely-tuned MacPherson struts and a multi-link rear makes the car a delight on winding country runs, but is a little too firm on poorly maintained roads. Blame the government, not Mazda.
Braking: Thanks to an errant driver, we can report the SP25’s 300mm ventilated front discs and 280mm solid rears provide excellent stopping power. Combined with the taut suspension, the car’s brake and serve ability is impressive.
ANCAP rating: 5-Star
Safety features: Front, side and curtain airbags, DSC, ABS, TCS, EBD, EBA, active front head-restraints and load limiters and pretensioners on the front belts.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Mazda offers a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
Service costs: TBC
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY:
Ford Focus Sport hatchback ($27,890) - Ford’s impressive Focus is very well-built, good buying value and offers a modern finely-finished interior that is a match for the SP25.
It also drives with considerable sporting panache and has a willing 125kW and 202Nm 2.0-litre petrol four up front. (see Focus reviews)
VW Golf 118TSI Comfortline Hatchback ($29,490) - The Golf, long the benchmark for sporting hatches, faces real competition in the shape of the Focus, and, arguably, the SP25.
Sharp handling, a brilliant free-revving 1.4-litre engine and Euro badge appeal give the well-specced and marginally cheaper Golf Comfortline the edge. (see Golf reviews)
Subaru Impreza L Hatchback ($26,990) - The new Impreza is vastly improved and offers good-value buying. It's considerably cheaper than the SP25 but lacks the sporting verve and feel at the wheel of the zesty Mazda. (see Impreza reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With excellent quality, great handling, satisfying performance and stand-out style, there’s little to dislike about the Mazda3 SP25.
Like the rest of the Mazda3 range, it is a very complete and appealing package.
If you can live with the slightly harsh suspension, you should be more than happy having the SP25 in your garage.
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