mazda3_frontLike the Queensland State of Origin rugby league team, the Mazda3 has continued to feed off a winning formula for more than a decade. Regarded by the Japanese auto maker as ‘The Mazda’, the small car has become the brand’s most popular model around the world.

The current Mazda3 arrived in Australia at the start of 2014 as the third model to join Mazda’s new-generation product line-up. Now the new version has gained the latest in small-car styling, plus a raft of innovations, including G-Vectoring control, Mazda’s new-generation vehicle dynamics technology, and price cuts that can only add to its appeal to buyers.

Available as a sedan or hatch in Neo, Maxx, Touring, SP25, SP25 GT and Astina grades, the entry-level Neo price stays at $20,490, plus on-road costs, with other models taking cuts of between $1000 and $1500 from the previous model.

With the choice of two engines, the 2.0-litre petrol, with 114 kW of power and 200 Nm of torque, is available on Neo, Maxx and Touring grades. The more powerful 2.5-litre petrol engine, with 138 kW and 250 Nm, comes standard on SP25, GT and Astina variants.

The 2.2 litre turbo-diesel engine has been deleted due to lack of buyer interest in Australia.

Mazda3 is available with a choice of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. On test was the Mazda3 SP25 GT with auto, selling for $31,990.


The new Mazda3 carries through the company’s Kodo design theme, now a constant across the auto maker’s complete range of vehicles.

A mildly reworked front end, Mazda says, is designed to give the Mazda3 a wider look, thus a sense of stability and confidence in the car for driver and passengers alike.

There’s a new deeper front grille and LED headlamps and foglights bringing the latest in technology to bear.

The SP25 GT takes on electric folding mirrors and its own design alloy wheels.

An updated cabin interior includes a simplified instrument design and a new steering wheel. USB inputs have been moved to the centre console and an electric parking brake is now standard.

The instrument panel now has a three-dimensional shape, the door handle bezel uses a sharper design and the satin chrome plated air-conditioning louvre bezels take a similar look.

Black or white leather upholstery is available.

Exterior mirrors provide slightly better visibility around them for the driver.


The all-colour head-up Active Driving Display displays vehicle speed, information from the navigation system and other important information on a clear plastic panel above the instruments. It’s rather basic and not as easy to see as conventional displays that reflect from the windscreen.

Mazda’s MZD Connect uses smartphones to receive radio and play music from mobile audio players, and allows access to Aha, Pandora and Stitcher.

A Bose premium audio system with Centerpoint 2 virtual surround sound playback technology is featured on the SP25 GT.

The system can read email and short messages aloud while the vehicle is in motion using text-to-voice technology. When a smartphone is connected, it can read aloud the latest Twitter tweets and Facebook news, and also posts audio messages using the Shout function. All of which is potentially dangerous when used by drivers while on the move.

As the suffix suggests, the SP25 GT is fitted with the bigger of the two engines on offer for the Mazda3. With 138 kW and 250 Nm, the 2.5-litre four-cylinder makes use of Mazda’s Skyactiv-G and i-stop engine stop / start technology.

Making its debut is Mazda G-Vectoring Control which adjusts engine torque in response to steering inputs to control G-forces and optimise the vertical loading of each tyre to give smooth and efficient vehicle behaviour. The vehicle moves more precisely, reducing the need for steering corrections.

Mazda3 SP25 GT has smart city brake support, forward and reverse, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, driver attention alert and traffic sign recognition.

The body absorbs impact energy from any direction and minimises the chance of cabin deformation and dual front airbags, large side airbags, and curtain airbags protect occupants in the event of a crash.

There is no doubt that with 138 kW of power and 250 Nm of torque on tap the Mazda3 SP25 GT has plenty of get-up-and-go, which is boosted by flicking the Sport switch on the centre console.

Despite the added ‘herbs’ the flavour is far from over-spiced, with the G-Vectoring Control that uses the engine to enhance chassis performance with smooth, predictable and efficient vehicle movement.

Our test vehicle recorded 8.6 litres per 100 km on day-to-day running around town and 5.3 litres per 100 on motorway runs.

The colour head-up display gives the vehicle’s speed, existing speed limit and satellite navigation directions so minimises diversion of driver focus.

Pure White leather upholstery can lead to a nasty case of kid anxiety, with grubby hands and feet a constant threat to a pristine cabin environment.

There’s no easing off the sales pedal, with the new Mazda3 SP25 GT doing its bit to keep the model the brand’s most popular vehicle worldwide.


MODEL RANGE (Hatchback and Sedan)
Mazda3 Neo: $20,490 (manual) $22,490 (automatic)
Mazda3 Maxx: $22,890 (manual) $24,890 (automatic)
Mazda3 Touring: $25,290 (manual) $27,290 (automatic)
Mazda3 SP25: $25,690 (manual) $27,690 (automatic)
Mazda3 SP25 GT: $29,990 (manual) $31,990 (automatic)
Mazda3 SP25 Astina: $33,490 (manual) $35,490 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.

FEATURES (Mazda3 SP25 GT hatch)
18in alloy wheels
Blind Spot Monitoring DAB+ Digital Radio Front Fog-lamps (LED) Multi-function commander control MZD Connect Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Rear-view mirror with auto dimming function Reverse Camera Satellite navigation Smart City Brake Support – Reverse
Advanced Keyless Entry Duel-zone climate control Electric Parking Brake Headlamps auto on/off function
All-colour Active Driving Display Daytime running lamps (LED) Driver Attention Alert LED headlamps with Adaptive Front-lighting System Power mirrors (heated) Traffic Sign Recognition

SPECIFICATIONS (Mazda3 SP25 GT 2.5-litre petrol hatchback)

Capacity: 2.488 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in-line, petrol, with i-stop
Maximum Power: 138 kW @ 5700 rpm
Maximum Torque: 250 Nm @ 3250 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91RON or higher, E10
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.1 L/100km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed SkyActiv-Drive automatic

Length: 4470 mm
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Width: 1795 mm
Height: 1465 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1324 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 51 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Three years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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