Reviews

2014 Mazda 3 Driving Impressions


Mazda emphasizes nimble dynamic responses in all its vehicles, the essence of the corporate zoom-zoom image-building, and the new Mazda3 is another excellent example of that ethos, building on the agility of the previous generation.

The steering is quick, 2.6 turns lock-to-lock, and accurate, although it suffers from the too-common problem of marginal feedback. High chassis rigidity allows suspension tuning that keeps body roll to a minimum and delivers eager responses in quick transitions. And the combination of stiff chassis and lengthened wheelbase keeps ride quality firm with enough compliance to soften the hard edges of warty pavement.

Power isn't a particularly strong suit. Acceleration is sluggish with the 2.0-liter engine and automatic transmission, the best combo for fuel economy, a little better with a manual transmission, which is a pleasure to operate with its short throws and positive engagements.

The 2.5-liter engine is a better bet for sorting out the daily drag races of commuting: 0-to-60 mph in the low seven-second category. The optional paddle shifters, available only with the 2.5, help make the most of this engine's power. It should be more fun with a manual gearbox.

Braking performance, with vented rotors up front, solid at the rear and standard ABS, matches the Mazda 3's generally sporty persona. We were unable to provoke fade in our drives, and pedal feel was firm in every episode. Operating on the theory that there is no such thing as too much brakes, we'd opt for the Mazda3 s model, which has bigger front rotors.

In addition to its agility and Euro firm ride quality, the new car is also distinguished by reduced interior noise levels, an improvement on the previous Mazda3.

Request More Info