2014 Mazda3 Review – Video

The new face of best in class

2014 Mazda3 Review – Video

Since it went on sale in 2003 the Mazda3 has become a vital product for the Japanese automaker. In fact over the last decade they’ve delivered more than 3.5 million of these compact cars. It accounts for 30 percent of the brand’s sales around the world, which means nearly one out of three Mazdas sold is a 3.

FAST FACTS

1. The 2014 Mazda3’s base engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that puts out 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque.

2. The car’s optional powerplant is a 2.5-liter engine. It delivers 184 hp and 185 lb-ft.

3. An entry-level Mazda3 sedan stickers for less than $18,000, including shipping and handling fees, while five-door models start at a little less than 20 grand.

4. Four-door 2.0L models with the automatic transmission return up to 41 MPG on the highway.

But now the company is in a bit of a tough spot. How do you improve a wildly successful product without alienating existing customers or driving away other potential buyers? The answer is carefully, very carefully. The devil really is in the details.

SKYACTIV TO THE BONE

Fuel economy is the No. 1 driving force behind many automotive trends these days. The need for ever-greater efficiency is pushing car companies to explore things like advanced drivetrain technologies, cutting-edge materials and even new fuels. But delivering mega miles per gallon is not enough, it has to be attainable by normal drivers; that is the true challenge this industry faces.

Rather than relying on a single magic -bullet solution to maximize economy Mazda is taking a holistic approach with its Skyactiv technology suite.

To deliver the goods every component gets scrutinized and optimized to reduce weight or improve efficiency. This ranges from the vehicle’s very foundation, the unibody architecture, to engines, transmissions and beyond. For U.S.-market cars the weight savings are in the neighborhood of 100 pounds, which is huge for a vehicle that’s structurally stiffer and rides on a longer wheelbase.

2014-Mazda3-04.jpg

This attention to detail has really paid off; the 2014 Mazda3 delivers some pretty impressive fuel-economy numbers. The most efficient version of the car is a four-door sedan with the base 2.0-liter engine and an automatic transmission. These models are estimated to deliver 30 miles per gallon in city driving and up to 41 on the highway!

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

SKYACTIV PROPULSION

That standard powerplant is far from “entry level.” It produces 155 horsepower with 150 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers are very close to what today’s Skyactiv-powered Mazda3 delivers but engineers have significantly fattened up the midrange output so it’s more pleasant in everyday driving.

But just because it delivers more torque doesn’t mean the engine can’t rev. It’s smooth running and isn’t afraid to spin at high RPM, especially when paired with the manual gearbox.

2014-Mazda3-21.jpg

The 2014 Mazda3’s optional powerplant is again a 2.5-liter four-banger. Like its smaller sibling it too has been reinvigorated. Horsepower clocks in at 184 while torque one ups the ponies, literally. The engine delivers 185 lb-ft of twist.

Two transmissions are available, both of which have six forward speeds. A responsive automatic will undoubtedly serve as the go-to gearbox for North American customers, but a snappy-feeling manual is available for folks in the know. At launch the stick shift will not be available with the larger engine, though it will become available at a later date.

SKYACTIV RESULTS

As mentioned, the entry-level car delivers up to 41 miles per gallon highway, which is impressive for a vehicle with such engaging performance. And fortunately for drivers, other versions of the new Mazda3 are nearly as miserly.

Five-door models with a manual gearbox and the 2.0-liter engine are rated by the U.S. EPA at 29 miles per gallon city and 40 on the interstate, making for a combined score of 33 MPG. With the Skyactiv-Drive automatic transmission the car’s city score goes up by 1, though the combined rating remains the same.

Sedan versions with the 2.0-liter powerplant and the manual sticker at 29 city, 41 highway.

2014-Mazda3-03.jpg

Things get more complicated for cars equipped with the larger 2.5-liter engine. Sedans ought to deliver 28 miles per gallon around town and 39 on the highway, or 29 city and 40 interstate when equipped with Mazda’s i-ELOOP system (more on that in a moment).

Five-door models with the 2.5-liter engine should return 28 and 37, though those figures increase to 29 and 39 when the car is equipped with i-ELOOP.

i-E-WHAT?

Everyone knows hybrids save fuel. Wedding a conventional internal-combustion engine to an electric motor and battery pack allows a vehicle to recuperate energy through regenerative braking. Typically they can also run exclusively on electric power at low speeds. These advantages, among others, help cut consumption and bolster the window sticker’s large-font numbers.

Rather than developing a full-blown hybrid drivetrain, which would be costly, complex and bulky, Mazda took a different approach. Their strangely named i-ELOOP system, which stands for “intelligent energy loop” offers some of the benefits of hybrid technology with none of the abovementioned liabilities.

The heart of this system is an electrical capacitor. It functions like a battery, storing power recuperated from the vehicle’s kinetic energy. It generates this electricity whenever the car is moving and the accelerator pedal is released.

2014-Mazda3-13.jpg

Unlike in hybrids, those stored electrons are used to power the vehicle’s various electrical systems, things like the headlamps, climate control and audio system. Running on this stored energy reduces the need for the engine to burn extra fuel to generate electricity. This is some pretty shrewd engineering and it results in impressive real-world benefits. Fuel efficiency is boosted by an estimated 5 percent.

BEAUTY IS A BEAST

Technical achievements aside, the first thing anyone notices about a car is its styling, and the 2014 Mazda3 is dressed in a striking body that looks more premium than should be allowed in the compact class. It wears the brand’s KODO design theme, which is Japanese for “soul of motion,” or so we’ve been told.

2014-Mazda3-12.jpg

The most noticeable aspect of its styling is the way the car’s visual weight has been shifted back; designers call it “cab-rearward” styling. The new Mazda3 has a long hood and almost rear-wheel-drive proportions. It’s a very attractive small car and one that looks far more expensive than probably anything else in the C-Segment.

INTERIOR AMBIANCE

The car’s interior has also been significantly redesigned. At first glance it looks rather plain, but spend a few minutes appraising the cabin and you’ll come away impressed.

2014-Mazda3-32.jpg

The materials are very upscale, the assembly quality is unbeatable and the overall design is understated and elegant. This is a compact car that’s really grown up, as it should be. Mazda’s designers have not been benchmarking the competition; they’ve been much more ambitious than that.

Vehicles from companies like BMW and Audi have been their focus and it shows. There’s very little to complain about inside the 2014 Mazda3, with two exceptions.

The car’s navigation screen looks like a total afterthought, almost like they ran out of space and couldn’t properly integrate it into the dashboard so they just stuck the display on top of the center stack and called it a day. The whole arrangement looks like an iPad Mini propped up above the air vents.

Additionally, some of the instruments are not up to the lofty standards set by the rest of the cockpit. Depending on the model the tachometer, temperature gauge and fuel indicator are rendered in cheesy looking digital displays that look like they belong on a Nintendo Game Boy, not a brand-new car.

2014-Mazda3-26.jpg

Beyond these minor complaints the new Mazda3 is available with a raft of premium features not typically available in the compact class. This lineup of advanced driver-assistance systems are bundled together under the name “i-Activsense.” Some of the technology offered includes automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, radar-based cruise control and low-speed brake support, real luxury-car features at an affordable price point.

ZOOM-ZOOM OR HO HUM?

Mazda hangs its hat on building vehicles that are not just efficient, safe and functional but also entertaining to drive… after all they are the Zoom-Zoom brand.

Despite its increased fuel efficiency and added features the 2014 Mazda3 is every bit as engaging as previous versions of the car.

For starters the ride is a bit firm, but not overly harsh. This allows you to chuck it into a corner like a sack of trash into a garbage can, all with total confidence.

The vehicle’s electrically boosted steering may sound like a weak link but it’s as charming as some of the best hydraulic setups out there. It’s nicely weighted with a chunky feel; you know exactly what the front tires are doing at all times.

No matter the engine, they’re both extremely responsive. The base 2.0-liter unit is smooth and likes to rev. It’s particularly enjoyable with the manual transmission. Acceleration is perfectly adequate in just about every situation.

2014-Mazda3-15.jpg

Of course the optional 2.5-liter engine provides a nice power boost, though it’s not quite as brisk as you might think. Still, its extra serving of torque is appreciated.

DOLLARS AND “SENSE”

An entry-level four-door model stickers for a little less than $18,000, coming in at $17,740 including $795 is shipping and handling fees.

The five-door kicks off at a skosh less than 20 grand at $19,740, again including destination and delivery charges. These prices are pretty competitive with other C-Segment offerings.

The 2014 Mazda3 goes on sale in September, as in this month. Cars should be arriving at dealerships right now.

THE VERDICT

Simply put the 2014 Mazda3 is the C-Segment’s leader. It delivers a riotous driving experience, striking design and a premium cabin all with quality and efficiency that’s the envy of lesser small cars. With a laundry list of virtues like this why the hell would you ever buy a Civic or a Corolla? Ladies and gentlemen, this is the new face of best in class.

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

1. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. AGE/RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked