Mazda: 2014 Mazda3 SP25 hatch & SP25 Limited sedan review

Mazda: 2014 Mazda3 SP25 hatch & SP25 Limited sedan review

The all-new Mazda3 is the third vehicle in the Mazda line to sport the Kodo – Soul of Motion design theme with the distinctive five-point grille that is now shared with the Mazda6, CX-5 SUV, and CX-9 SUV, as well as the recently revealed MX-5.

This third generation Mazda3 has grown longer and wider but more importantly it has matured and offers buyers more features and benefits than ever before. It does indeed set a new benchmark in the mass market small car (C segment) class with its mixture of safety technologies, head up display, and human machine interface.

Big premium car features combined with small car practicality and a fun-to-drive nature mark the new Mazda3 as a competitor to the Volkswagen Golf, as well as more premium offerings from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.


2014 Mazda3 SP25 hatch 3:4Mazda very kindly allowed us to test a manual SP25 hatchback and an automatic SP25 Limited sedan back to back to see the similarities but also the character differences between the two cars.

A reversing camera, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) along with front, side and curtain airbags all comes as standard across the range as does emergency stop signal (ESS) which rapidly blinks the four-way hazard lights to warn ensuing motorists of heavy braking, and hill launch assist (HLA) which prevents the car from rolling back on an incline.

The SP25 hatch also receives rear cross traffic alert (RCTA) which warns of other vehicles crossing from behind when reversing and blind spot monitoring (BSM).

2015 Mazda3 SP25 Limted sedan rear 3:4jpgBoth variants wear 18-inch alloy whees shod with 215/45 tyres. The SP25 hatch is equipped with a shark fin atenna, the active driving display, a premium 9-speaker Bose audio system, keyless entry and start, and rear-view mirror with auto dimming function.

Our Mazda3 SP25 LTD featured a full suite of i-Activesense safety technologies which includes, Mazda radar cruise control (MRCC), which maintains a safe distance from the preceding vehicle, as well as smart brake support (SBS) and smart city brake support (SCBS), both of which prevent you from from hitting the vehicle in front even if you don’t brake, the difference being is that one works at high speeds on the motorway while the other works a lower speeds in the city.

The SP25 hatch has comfortable cloth upholstery while the SP25 Limited sedan arrived with premium leather upholstery with heating and power adjustment as well as a tilt n slide glass sunroof. The Limited sedan is also equipped with daytime LED running lights, heated mirrors, bi-xenon adaptive front headlights, rear LED tail lamps, and secondary collision reduction.


2015 Mazda3 SP25 Limited sedan interiorThe cabin of the Mazda3 features information, entertainment and connectivity systems, designed for convenient and safe operation.

Its split into two segments – a safe-driving zone – to enable focus on the road with all key driving-related controls positioned to allow easy operation. The active driving display on the SP25 models is one of the first head-up displays in this segment showing real-time driving data directly in the driver’s field of vision.

An infotainment zone with a new Human Machine Interface (HMI) designed for safe and user-friendly interactivity houses the MZD Connect system, a 7-inch WVGA touchscreen and rotary commander to control everything from navigation (optional for GLX models) and communication to social media.

The layout of the controls is relatively straightforward as you would expect from Mazda, and the quality of the plastics and the fit and finish is to a very high standard


2015 Mazda3 HUD dashboardBoth of the SP25 models are equipped with the all-new Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre engine which propels the car from 0-100km/h in 7.8 seconds and will reach a top speed of 226km/h, and driving the six speed manual version will achieve 0-100km/h in 7 seconds says Mazda.

Whilst the Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre puts out 138kW of power at 5700rpm and 250Nm of torque at 3250rpm it is still an economic engine providing fuel economy of 6l/100 km and C02 emissions of 141g/km.

Its not very often that we get to drive a car with a manual gearbox, and the six-speed SkyActiv-MT unit in the SP25 hatch offers drivers a crisp clean change between gears and a positive but light clutch pedal.

Equally the six-speed SkyActiv automatic transmission changes smoothly and slickly and theres a paddle shift gear control for those people who occasionally like to take control of the shifts when pressing on or driving downhill.


2015 Mazda3 HMI dashboardThe Volkswagen Golf has a new rival in the hotly contested global C segment. The new Mazda3 range has more performance and more specification than it’s German rival locally – albeit its a little more expensive. But you do get the Mazdacare package as standard.

Both SP25 models that we drove felt every bit as comfortable and refined as the VW. Ride comfort and quality is very good, especially over some of New Zealand’s challenging surfaces, and the pin sharp handling with excellent turn-in through a corner will also be appreciated.

The addition of the i-Activesense safety technologies as well as the active driving display and MZD Connect system has elevated the Mazda3 into a different echelon to its competitors, as these are features you would expect on a much larger premium luxury car.


If you are one of the few who like changing gears manually then this car will suit your personality down to the ground. The manual SP25 hatch was a delight to drive, but so too was our automatic SP25 Limited sedan.

Both cars were quiet and comfortable in the urban environment but equally a dash outside the city also brought a smile to our face, both of the cars attacked corners in earnest, and the smooth and flexible 2.5-litre engine was well mated to both transmissions.

The choice of which car, which transmission, and which specification will be no doubt be dictated by finances and personal circumstance, but regardless the package on offer is a very good one that owners will enjoy far beyond the warranty period.


Mazda3 SP25 hatch manual $38,395
Mazda3 SP25 Limited sedan automatic $47,495

The full range of Mazda3 models and prices are available here

  • Fun to drive
    Great build quality
    Great engine and transmission combination


  • Limited model more expensive than a Golf
« | »

Let us know what you think

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Road Tests

Silver Sponsors

Car and SUV Team

Richard-Edwards-2016Richard Edwards

Managing editor

linkedinphotoDarren Cottingham

Motoring writer

robertbarry-headRobert Barry

Chief reporter

Ian-Ferguson-6Ian Ferguson

Advertising Consultant

debDeborah Baxter

Operations Manager

RSS Latest News from Autotalk

RSS Latest News from Dieseltalk

Read previous post:
Swift sales exceed 4 million

New Zealand’s most popular small car, the Suzuki Swift has achieved another milestone with sales topping four million worldwide. Cumulative...