2012 Mazda3 SP25 Manual Hatch Review

Overall Rating

  • Interior

  • On The Road

  • Ancap

  • Value For Money:

  • See Full Specs

What’s Hot

The Mazda3 badge with a tad more verve; that's a winning combo.

What’s Not

It's a little firm down below on rougher roads.

X Factor

Sporty feel, robust build and 'car-of-the-moment' styling - is it the perfect car for younger buyers?

  • Country of Origin
    JAPAN
  • Price
    $31,490 (plus on-road costs)
  • Engine
    4 Cylinders
  • Output
    122 kW / 227 Nm
  • Transmission
    Manual
  • ANCAP Rating
    5
  • Airbags
    Driver & Passenger (Dual), Head for 2nd Row Seats, Side for 1st Row Occupants (Front), Head for 1st Row Seats (Front)
  • L/100 km
    8.6
  • C02
    204 g/km
  • Luggage Capacity
    N/A
  • Towing (braked)
    900 kg
  • Towing (unbraked)
    550 kg
Darren House | Mar 23, 2012 | 12 Comments

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.

INTERIOR

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.

SAFETY

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.

Pricing

  • 2012 Mazda3 Neo - six-speed manual - $20,330
  • 2012 Mazda3 Neo - five-speed auto - $22,330
  • 2012 Mazda3 Maxx Sport - six-speed manual - $24,490
  • 2012 Mazda3 Maxx Sport - five-speed auto - $26,490
  • 2012 Mazda3 SP20 SkyActiv - six-speed auto - $27,990
  • 2012 Mazda3 SP20 SkyActiv Luxury - six-speed auto - $30,990
  • 2012 Mazda3 SP25 - six-speed manual - $31,490
  • 2012 Mazda3 SP25 - five-speed auto (with paddle shifters) - $33,670
  • 2012 Mazda3 MPS - six-speed manual - $39,490

Filed under: Featured, review, petrol, Mazda, mazda3, 2012, hatch, Manual, fwd, sport, SP25, small, family, Advice, special-featured, 4cyl, 5door, 6m, mazda3 sp25, 5seat, available

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  • Roger says,
    3 years ago
    3 likes
    8.6L per 100.....thats inexcusable in this day and age. EcoBoost Falcon performs 7.5s 0-100 and still manages under 8L per 100 pulling a huge car....and it doesn't cost much more either....where is the value here?
    • Guest says,
      3 years ago
      I guess that's why they brought out the SP20.
    • J says,
      3 years ago
      2 likes
      This has a hatch body style and the Falcon doesn't. That's inexcusable in this day and age. I'm going with the 3 over the Falcon hands down.
    • James says,
      2 years ago
      600mls per 100km. Not huge when you think about it. Each to their own. As for build quality I'm opting for the SP25 over the Falcon.
  • Smart us says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    only 9kW and 33Nm more??? id go for falcon 6 lpg hands down...
    • C says,
      3 years ago
      4 likes
      Why is everyone comparing this car to the Falcon? They are in completely different classes.
      • Jarrod Middleton says,
        2 years ago
        9 likes
        because bogan trolls roam these here parts and they can't grasp that there are things on the road more worthy that the tanks they love.
  • Tina says,
    2 years ago
    Omg Im getting one smile
  • taz says,
    2 years ago
    Just drove one today.
    Not a bad car but suspension is terrible and steering is indirect. I am used to an all wheel drive vechicle though to be fair. Just found the steering had zero feedback alot like a honda civic just no road feel or communication back to driver.

    There are also far too many distracting tech gadgets in the car.
    No wonder young people have accidents so often today.
    Too busy fiddling with controls instead of watching where they are going.

    It also has an annoying rattle from the sunroof on rough roads if you have it tilted open.

    It is an average quality car but not really worth this sort of money. It is obvious mazda has cut corners to give people all the tech gadgets.

    The seats are actually awful too and uncomfortable for leather. No electric drivers seat either .why not? This review above reads more like a paid review as how anyone could call these seats comfortable must usually use a wooden bench seat to travel on as that is what it felt like i was on.

    Leather should be supple and comfortable and this is hard and crass and just looks cheap. The leather on the steering wheel looks like it is worth 50 cents too and very poor quality.

    If you put the drivers seat back there is barely any room to even put a suitcase as well.

    I'd give the car a 3 out of 5 at most being generous. No where near as good as what they are indicating above.

    Note to Mazda , worry less about the tech gadgets and improve the comfort.

    i also found the position of the passenger side mirror a bit worrying as it doesn't really give great views along the side of the car due to the shape. It has no blind spot indicators either so this could be a concern to see cyclists etc at times.

    Despite what they say above about the 10 speaker stereo being Bose , it must have crappy speakers then as it is badly in need of amplification.

    It is not terrible sound but it is quite tinny and doesn't hold up when you increase the volume.

    I just think people should rightly expect a better can than this for over 30k new. You would be far better off with a 2-3 year old top of the line mazda 6 , honda accord euro or Subaru Liberty or something rather than this.

    dry



  • kat says,
    2 years ago
    2 likes
    I test drove this today and loved it. It's sporty, cute and feels nice and sticky on the road. I liked all of the flashy bits and bobs and think it has the most style and greatest offerings for price, comparing apples for apples.

    The engine is also outstanding. I'm sold once I can negotiate on price.
  • Raewyn says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    I am now driving a Mazda 2. I can't fault it. On the strength of how much I love my wee car my husband has just bought a Mazda 3 SP 25 Automatic. Thank you Taz for your indepth report. I suppose each to his own. We considered a Ford XR6 but thought it a bit big for us. Fuel info is interesting. I drove the SP20 but didn't like how when you move your foot slightly off accelerator or slightly move steering wheel the petrol saver drops off. Preferred not to have this petrol saver.
  • Hans Aulmann says,
    10 months ago
    My wife has the Sp25, loved it! That is until the clutch failed catastrophically at 16800 km.
    There has always been a loud clang on start up but never when in for service, tend to think that this is linked.
    Has anyone had any similar happenings.
    She is the only driver, and at 68 certainly not in the Hoon legue.
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