by Sommer Thornton and Daryl Payne
The 2014-2015 Mazda 3 aims to continue the compact cars legacy as the most successful Mazda to date. The new Mazda 3 with its wealth of models, trim levels and add-ons was a surprise hit for Daryl, who took the whip from Chicago to Wisconsin and back spending very little on gas.
New for 2014-2015 are additions like i-ELOOP regenerative braking and revised Skyactiv technology that help the Mazda 3 achieve an EPA rating of an impressive 38 mpg highway. And the 2014 Mazda 3 offers a ton of standard comfort and safety features that help the whip outperform most other cars in its class.
We reviewed the 2014-2015 Mazda3 S GT. The Mazda 3 GT adds some athletic enhancements to its exterior design and to its super-efficient 4-cylinder engine. The new Mazda 3 boasts a well-rounded efficient performance, cool new design cues, and a sophisticated simplistic interior that makes it a leader in its class.
Stylish Design with Lots of Variation
The 2014 Mazda 3’s strong selling point is in its countless trim levels and options. The GT has a lot of cool new stylish features that aid performance and boost efficiency. The GT and Touring models have standard bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights and LED taillights. The Mazda 3 S GT also has active high beams. Also standard is a gloss black grille with optional active shutters, cool new 18 inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, dual exhausts and a moonroof. A roof spoiler reduces drag, and the bright belt trim adds swag.
The hatch design didn’t take anything from the swag of the Mazda 3GT. It actually made the whip lighter and peppier. And trunk space is ample in the 5-seater.
Refined Interior Full of New Tech
I enjoyed the simplistic interior of the Mazda 3 SGT. Across trim levels, the Mazda 3 offers fabric, leatherette, and perforated leather two-tone seats. The S GT has standard 2-tone leather trimmed sports seats with contrast stitching that hug the body. The front is spacious but the backseat not as much. The S GT also has a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel, shifter, and brake handle. A push button start is also standard.
The Mazda 3 S GT also has dual zone climate control with an air filtration system, and heated front seats standard. Drivers have an innovative heads up display projected on a 2” x 2” screen. The HUD in the Mazda 3 S is simple and elegant and it doesn’t compete with the dash or obstruct the driver’s view. The heads up display shows speed and speed limit, as well as cruise control settings.
The driver’s instrument cluster includes a tachometer, odometer, and fuel gauge along with digital info like average speed, average fuel economy, and driving range.
The Mazda 3 S GT has a standard 7 inch full color touch screen with a rear view camera, navigation, and infotainment. Also standard in the Mazda 3 is the 9 speaker Bose surround sound system and Sirius XM Satellite radio. Other entertainment technology includes Aha by Harmon, Pandora, Stitcher, and text message support.
Daryl liked the interior of the Mazda 3 S GT that made it seem sportier. With the same functionality of full-size sedans and less buttons, the driver can enjoy a spirited drive undistracted in comfort. A rotary dial, or multifunction commander control as it’s called, is another touch of class that adds functionality and reduces the driver’s distractions. The dial is used to adjust infotainment on the 7 inch touchscreen. One issue is that the buttons in the center stack are sometimes unresponsive.
While hatch design doesn’t take anything from the exterior, it’s a drawback for the interior. The Mazda 3’s A-pillar is too much of a blind spot. And there’s ample hip and legroom in the front and in the split 40/40 folding rear. But rear legroom is minimal.
Efficient Hatch-Rocket Performance
The Mazda 3 S GT has a surprisingly fun performance. It’s a great cross-country whip with a combined EPA of 32 mpg. Standard is a 2.5 liter DOHC 4 cylinder engine with 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. The efficient 4 cylinder is matched to a 6 speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters or a 6 speed manual transmission. Mazda’s infamous Skyactiv technology has been refined to add even more efficiency.
And the performance of the lightweight Mazda 3 S GT is athletic with fluid electric power steering, agile handling and cornering, and great acceleration. The GT also has independent front and rear suspension that make the ride smooth and resilient.
Sport Mode increases traction control and fine tunes transaxle and throttle response. Optional i-ELOOP technology adds regenerative braking to the already efficient Skyactiv technology. iELOOP uses stored energy from braking to generate electricity and uses it to power the A/C, the headlights, and audio.
Safety features include 4-wheel disc brakes, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, Dynamic Stability Control, Hill Start Assist, and entrapment release lever. Smart City Brake Control is optional. When the Mazda 3 detects an impending collision, Smart City Brake can apply the brakes at speeds less than 19 mph. Dynamic Stability Control responds to wheel slip by adjusting braking and engine torque with the ABS and traction control system. Optional safety features for the Mazda 3 include the Lane Departure Warning, radar cruise control, Forward Obstruction Warning, and Adaptive Front Lighting with high beam control.
The 2014-2015 Mazda 3 S GT is a peppy little hatch that’s well worth its $26,495 MSRP. Mazda designers did a great job remixing this classic with sophistication and hutzpah. The Volkswagen Golf and the Honda Fit don’t have as much stylish efficiency and spirited speed as the new Mazda 3.