“The compact car segment is one that is competitively cutthroat, meaning there is little room for error when launching an all-new vehicle like the 2014 Mazda3,” said Mazda North America boss Jim O’Sullivan
For Mazda, that means building most of its cars on a scalable, lightweight platform it calls “SkyActiv,” and the 2014 Mazda3 is no different. The car comes with both the 2.0- and 2.5-liter versions of Mazda’s recently developed four-cylinder engine family. The smaller of those offers 155 hp and 150 lb-ft of torque while the larger engine — which also powers the Mazda6 — offers 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque.
The base price rises $245 over the 2013 model and adds new standard features including a push-button start system, automatic power door locks and remote keyless entry. That buys the i SV model (offered only as a sedan), but there are three more trims to choose from: i Sport, i Touring and i Grand Touring.
Mazda maintains that the i SV model is generously equipped, but you’ll need to step up to the i Sport trim for basic items like a tachomoeter, and CD player. That trim costs $19,240 and also adds Bluetooth, cruise control, body-colored side-mirrors and more. Customers can also choose a hatchback with the i Sport trim.
i Touring models get 16-inch alloy wheels, a keyless entry and start system, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. Other additions include a rear spoiler and upgraded interior materials, all of which starts at $20,390 for the sedan or $20,890 for the hatchback. There’s also an available technology package for $1,600, which includes a seven-inch touch screen, navigation, a rear-view camera, Bose stereo and more.
Finally, the i Grand Touring model starts at $23,540 and includes all the equipment from the less expensive cars while adding a six-way power adjustable driver seat with manual lumbar support, heated leatherette seats and a moonroof.
Automatic transmission models come with a $1,050 premium.
Mazda will also offer “s” versions of the Touring and Grand Touring trims for buyers that prefer the more powerful 2.5-liter engine. The lesser-equipped s Touring model costs $25,390 as a sedan while the s Grand Touring sedan costs $26,790. Hatchback buyers across all trim levels pay a $500 premium for the added cargo space.
The s models also come with an exclusive sport button to deliver more direct throttle response and linear acceleration.
But the biggest number in most buyers mind will be the 41-mpg highway fuel consumption figure. That, Mazda says, is possible with the smaller engine working together with the company’s capacitor-based i-ELOOP regenerative braking system. It uses energy that would have otherwise been lost to power electrical systems in the car.
It is important to note that the five-door models equipped with a 2.0-liter engine are the only versions currently rated by the EPA. Equipped with an automatic, they should return up to 30 mpg in the city, 40 in on the highway or 33 mpg combined. Cars with a six-speed manual return almost the same mileage, dropping to 29 mpg in the city.
The 41 mpg figure is currently an estimate provided by Mazda and is still unconfirmed by the EPA. It applies to the sedan models, which both are expected to offer up to 41 mpg on the highway. The six-speed manual sedan also suffers the same single mpg penalty during city driving.
GALLERY: 2014 Mazda 3
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