Ever since the Mazda3 took over for the Protege as Mazda's small compact model, the Mazda3 has been one of the best compact cars in the segment. Now in its third-generation, the all-new 2014 Mazda3 has been completely redesigned inside and out with sexier styling and more efficient powertrains. Is the new Mazda3 still one of the best models in the segment? Read on to find out.
Immediately you will notice that the 2014 Mazda3 looks a lot more grown up and a bit sexier than before. Mazda's new Kodo design language that was first seen on the CX-5 and Mazda6 gives the new Mazda3 a design that is quite different from most compact models. The 2014 Mazda3's long hood and pushed back or "cab-back" design is something that we don't really see in a compact sedan. Either way, the good news is that last year's weird smiling front end is now gone.
Inside the 2014 Mazda3 gets a design that is also similar to the CX-5 and Mazda6. The large floating screen in the center of the dashboard is very similar to the Mercedes CLA and its materials feel a step above the last Mazda3. While the exterior is curvaceous and sexy, the interior feels a bit staid. Our tester's all black interior might have contributed to that feeling. Also that long hood, pushed back design that makes the exterior look great, comes at a cost. The interior is not as spacious as some other models in the class. Taller passengers may complain about a lack of headroom in the back.
The 2014 Mazda3 is available with two four-cylinder engines, a 2.0L or 2.5L that can be mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder engines are part of Mazda's new Skyactiv family, which focus on efficiency. The 2.0L generates 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft. of torque, while the 2.5L has 184-hp and 185 lb-ft. If fuel economy is your goal, the 2.0L is rated at 30/41 mpg with the six-speed automatic, while the 2.5L is slightly more thirsty at 28/39 mpg. Let's compare those specs to the top-selling Honda Civic. The Civic EX only has 143 horsepower and is rated at 30/39 mpg with its CVT transmission. Obviously the Mazda3 gives you more power without making you schedule extra stops at your local gas station.
Anyone who's ever driven a frugal compact sedan knows that they aren't very fun. With the exception of the "high-performance" compact models like the VW GTI, Honda Civic Si and Ford Focus ST, most compact models have very little "performance" in the equation. Well that's not the Mazda3. Just like the previous two generations, the latest Mazda3 is one of the most fun and engaging models in the segment. Either engine you choose will give you more fun and personality than you'll get in a Civic or Corolla. The 2.0L will reach 0-60 mph in about 7.8-8.0 seconds, while the 2.5L is a bit quicker at 7.3 seconds. If you're thinking about getting the 2.5L, you may be disappointed that it is only available with a six-speed automatic. The manual transmission is only available with the smaller 2.0L engine.
Either engine and transmission you choose, you'll be happy with how responsive and fun to drive the Mazda3 is. It's steering is easily one of the best in the segment and its neutral handling is impressive. With an emphasis on driving dynamics, the Mazda3 may not be as quiet as other models, but we'd gladly take a little less sound deadening material for a more engaging experience. Now in its third-generation, the 2014 Mazda3 continues to be one of the best models in the compact segment.
2014 Mazda3 Sedan:
Pros: Sculpted/ sporty exterior, engaging powertrains, neutral handling
Cons: Road noise, slightly boring interior, tight back seat
|« Previous||Next »|