2011 MAZDA3 SP25 REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Small sedan
Fuel Economy (claimed): 8.6 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 8.6 l/100km
The Mazda3 is a perennial favorite with Australian car buyers. The SP25 variants in sedan and hatch offer a little more dash and a touch more flash with some worthwhile additional equipment.
In a crowded small car segment, the well-executed Mazda3 still has what it takes to stand out.
- Quality: There is a nice sporting air to the interior and a solid robust build means it feels like it should last. No rattles on test, but some of the hard plastic surfacing is slightly scratch-prone.
- Comfort: Once seated there’s plenty of room inside, with enough room for three across the rear for short trips. Seats are firm, but supportive.
The only downside is that rear passengers have to duck under the sweeping C-pillar getting in.
- Equipment: The well-configured SP25 comes with sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, dual-zone climate control, leather gear-knob and steering wheel with audio and trip computer controls, six-disc, six-speaker audio with aux in and MP3 compatibility.
- Storage: Inside the cabin, the Mazda 3 offers covered cup holders, a deep centre console and large door pockets. The glovebox extends deep into the dash and the boot offers 430 litres of volume, extendable via 60:40 folding seats.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: Thanks to the added poke of the larger 2.5 litre engine, the SP25 is more flexible and gets around with a little more zest than a lesser Mazda 3, but it doesn’t feel vastly quicker.
- Refinement: Although there is some road noise apparent on most sealed surfaces, the engine throng is more subdued than 2.0 litre Mazda3s. A smooth-shifting six-speed manual makes commuting a breeze.
- Suspension: Front MacPherson struts and a multi-link rear are firmly damped, which can be stiff in town, but provide great handling on the open road.
- Braking: 300mm ventilated front discs and 280mm solid rears are shared with the Mazda3 diesel, and offer strong stopping performance to go with the SP25’s additional power.
- ANCAP rating: 5-Star (Maxx five-door hatch tested)
- Safety features: Front, side and curtain airbags, DSC, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, three-point seatbelts and height-adjustable head restraints on all seats with 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
- Volkswagen Golf 118TSI comfortline ($29,490) – While it may not look as brash externally, the Golf interior is beautifully crafted and the ride quieter. (see Golf reviews)
- Honda Civic Sport ($29,990) – Down on power and torque but still a rewarding drive. Inside, the split level dash?may be the love-it-or-loathe-it decider for many; Civic is also approaching the end of its model-life. (see Civic reviews)
- Mitsubisi Lancer VRX ($29,990) – Packing a good equipment list, bold styling and a performance-matched engine, the Lancer is perhaps the most credible competitor to the Mazda3.?? (see Lancer reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Mazda3 SP25 lands among plenty of capable competitors, but also manages to stand out from the crowd with eager handling and distinctive styling.
If you are looking to add a bit of ‘fun-factor’ to your driving, Mazda’s breezy and capable SP25 is well worth a look.