For 2014, Mazda brought an all-new Mazda3 to the United States. It features all new technology, including fuel-saving SkyActiv technology.
Mazda makes some of the best driving cars and sport utility vehicles out there. The company that brought the world the loveable MX-5 Miata claims they have the soul of a sports car in every product that they make. But Mazda innovates elsewhere, bringing some state-of-the-art technologies to their Mazda3 hatchback. We take a look at their latest version to see if it matches up with some of the best compact cars on sale.
Mazda allowed us behind the wheel of the $30,190 as tested Mazda3 at Road America to see what we think of the new car. Climbing behind the wheel, we quickly notice this car’s interior is much more modern than the car it replaced.
Mazda’s new infotainment system greeted us with a 7″ touch screen display and secondary controls. This new interface supports mobile phone apps, such as Pandora and Stitcher. The next thing we notice is a heads-up display projected onto a piece of plastic in the driver’s line of sight.
Instead of projecting onto the windshield (and requiring a more expensive windshield), the system uses a piece of plastic to project on to. When the ignition is off, the piece folds down. When on, it shows speed information higher up than the speedometer. We found it a bit frustrating because we couldn’t find a way to adjust the angle of the display. We had to lower our seat all the way down to be in the line-of-sight of the display.
The Mazda3 also has some safety technology that we wouldn’t directly see. Radar cruise control adjusts the speed of the car to match the speed of the vehicle in front. A lane keeping system warns the driver if they’re straying out of the lane. It even has a low speed city braking system that will automatically stop the car if it detects an impending collision.
This safety technology, combined with a good overall crash rating, caused the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to award the 2014 Mazda3 a Top Safety Pick+.
The Mazda3 we drove also had several fuel enhancing technologies. This includes a regenerative braking system and active grille shutters. The grille shutters block off air at highway speeds to make the car more streamlined.
These technologies help the Mazda3 hatchback to get 38 mpg on the highway, 28 mpg in the city, or 32 mpg combined. This mileage falls in line with other cars in this class, but we didn’t get to drive it enough to determine a real-world average.
We like small hatchbacks here at Motor Review. They tend to allow rear-seat passengers more headroom than small sedans. The rear storage space also tends to be larger, especially with the seats folded down.
On the track the Mazda3 performed well. Mazda used to make a high-performance Mazda3 called the Mazdaspeed3. Some of that car’s DNA transferred to the new car. The 2014 Mazda3 handled well and was very predictable. Most buyers will never drive it on a race track, but track driving can reveal handling issues that would scare a driver during emergency maneuvers on the road. The Mazda3 didn’t scare us at all.
$30,190 is a lot of money for a compact hatchback. We don’t expect to see many people checking all the option boxes when getting this car. But if they do they will have Mercedes-level technology for a lot less. Combine that with an excellent crash test rating and good fuel economy, and the Mazda3 makes an excellent small family car that’s also fun to drive.
|Motor Review Fast Facts:|
|Trim Package:||Grand Touring|
|Fuel Economy:||28mpg city / 38mpg highway / 32mpg combined|
|Engine:||2.5L DOHC I4 w/ SkyActiv-G|
|Horsepower and Torque:||184hp and 185lbs/ft|
|Price as Tested:||$30,190|
|Pros:||Good driving experience. Advanced safety technology.|
|Cons:||$30k is still a lot of a small car.|
|Final Thoughts:||It’s a small car with luxury-car technology that drives well and gets good fuel economy.|
|Vehicle provided by manufacturer for review.|