Last week we poured a bucket load of praise onto the 2014 Mazda 3 Maxx hatch, and rightfully so. This new model easily rides roughshod over the previous model which was conceived back in the “Noughties”. We’ve since returned the keys and spent another week in the top shelf sedan variant. Lookswise you simply can’t help avoid comparisons with the Mazda 6, not a bad thing but in fact it’s really so much more. This week in the EFTM Garage sits the Mazda 3 SP25 Astina Sedan.
Variant: SP25 Astina Sedan
Engine: 2.5-litre in-line 4 cylinder 16 valve DOHC S-VT petrol (SKYACTIV-G) with i-stop
Transmission: 6-speed manual (FWD)
Vital Stats: Power 138 @ 5,700rpm
Torque: 250Nm @ 3,250rpm
Mazda Claimed Fuel Economy: 6.5l/100km
EFTM Claimed Fuel Economy: 6.8/100km
MRRP Price: $36,190
Wow Factor: We have already passed judgement on the new Mazda 3’s looks and I’m sure you’ll agree it’s just as an attractive proposition in sedan mode. In fact adding a boot produces the most attractive member of the 3 family. But tag on the Astina nameplate and the beauty goes far deeper than just skin level. Our test car was treated with a very appealing interior. Off-white leather seats with contrasting synthetic black inserts, a horizontal aluminium strip running across the dash and other high-end features such as an Active Driving Display and Premium Bose® 231 watt amplifier add to the premium experience. Combine that with exterior bonuses such as Bi-Xenon Adaptive Headlamps, LED Daytime Running Lights and 18-inch rims and you have a well equipped, sophisticated looking vehicle.
Most Impressive: The mid-sized SP25 Astina sedan scores features you’d normally have to don a balaclava and commit robbery to obtain, particularly when looking at European competitors. The Active Driving Display, essentially a pop up panel upon which key information is projected sits just below your line of vision. Add to that Forward Obstruction Warning, High Beam Control, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Smart Brake Support, Smart City Brake Support and an excellent Adaptive Cruise Control system and you have a very well-rounded package. Interestingly the radar cruise control remains active even when engaging the clutch and gears on manual models, great for helping hold speed on downhill sections.
In addition to all these nanny systems is the ongoing potential of the MDZ Connect system. With software rather than hardware that can benefit from upgrades into the future. We’ve now had more time to exploit the integrated internet radio apps available, in particular “Aha”. Aha allows you to program preset radio stations, including Twitter and Facebook. If hearing an awkward sounding computerised voice read out tweets or posts from the big two is your thing, Aha is your app. The way it operates is not too dissimilar to a myriad of radio apps out there, but its slick compatibility with the MDZ Connect system sets it apart.
Not So Impressive: The vastly improved infotainment system did “crash” while driving on a handful of occasions, it took around 20 seconds to reboot from the startup screen. The basket load of tech comes at a price, after including on road costs the otherwise affordable Mazda 3 becomes more of a purchase of the heart rather than grey matter. But still a far more viable proposition than other more lavish but brand snob examples.
Final Verdict: The 2014 Mazda 3 range is yet another symbol of a company with a strong progressive attitude. The car is now lighter, more fuel-efficient, better looking and hit by the next generation technology stick. A great car that should be near the top of your wish list.