2009 Mazda 3 SP25 Review & Road Test

Cheerful, sporty and a sales assassin

Model Tested:

  • 2009 Mazda3 SP25; 2.5-litre, DOHC, four-cylinder; six-speed manual; Hatch – $30,690


  • Luxury Pack – leather trim, Bose 10-speaker audio and sliding centre armrest $2400; Floor mats $123

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By David Twomey Pics Paul Maric

Mazda’s ubiquitous Mazda3 may have a smiling face but beneath that grinning grille lurks the heart of an assassin, for this small car has seriously threatened the established order amongst the Big Three in the sales stakes.

It’s a seemingly unlikely contender to have nudged Toyota’s all-conquering Corolla and even the much larger Ford Falcon from elevated positions on the sales charts.

At the same time Mazda has made no secret of the fact that the launch of the “New Generation” Mazda3 is the single most important event for it in this particularly troubled economic year.

The SP25 is currently the hero car of the Mazda3 range, at least until the rapid MPS arrives next month, and it’s no doubt the car every buyer walks into a showroom wanting to buy, before they leave with their somewhat more prosaic Maxx or Neo.

Much about the latest version of this car is evolutionary rather than revolutionary and you might say it’s good to be three.


As a hero the SP25 is a more than adequate candidate in general, but one that does come with some challenges, most notably it’s heavier, while more powerful and more expensive, while having more equipment.

The 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine from the Mazda6, an increase in engine size from the previous 2.3-litres, powers the SP25 hatch and sedan. Other Mazda3s continue with an updated version of the 2.0-litre engine.

The manual SP25, our test vehicle, gets a six-speed gearbox rather than the five-speed used previously, while a five-speed auto with a self-shift gate replaces the old four-speed.

The SP25 manual hatch costs $30,690, a rise of $160 from the old model and the auto costs a further $2260.

Standard equipment includes satellite navigation, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, six-CD audio, cruise control and a trip computer.


To differentiate it from the standard models there’s a sporty body kit, clear-lens LED taillights and nice looking, multi-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels with 205/50R17 89W tyres. In common with an increasing number of vehicles the Mazda only comes with a space-saver spare tyre.

On the safety front the Mazda3 SP25 comes with six airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake-force distribution and brake-assist.

There are also active head restraints, which ensure they are in the best position to minimise injury, should you have an accident, and five lap-sash seatbelts.

Facing up to the interior of the Mazda3 SP25 there’s mixed reaction with the overall impression of clean and uncluttered, but the centre stack looks a little barren and low-rent to me, dominated as it is by an oversized control knob, while the presentation in front of the driver is a mélange of sporty and confusing.


The nicely thick and leather bound steering wheel is laden with almost more buttons than the dashboard, with controls for audio, Bluetooth, cruise control and satellite navigation scattered around its centre hub.

The standard colour screen built into the centre dash does an admirable job of handling navigation tasks, despite its seemingly too small size, and also conveys a useful array of trip computer information. It’s position does mean that it sits nicely in the driver’s eye line.

Steering is adjustable for reach and rake, the pedals are well-spaced, light enough to use and provide good feel and feedback, the left footrest does its job well.

The optional leather-clad seats tended to be a little flat, a bit short in the base, especially for long-legged drivers, but provide good back support. In the rear the bench seat provides good support but knee room is challenging for taller passengers.


Pockets in the front doors are small but do provide holders for drinks, a good thing as the central ones inhibit gear shifting. Those in the rear are minuscule and there is only a seat back pocket on the passenger seat, plus two cup-holders in the pull-down centre armrest.

Despite the hatch now being 90 millimetres longer than before the luggage capacity remains at 300 litres, down to 276 litres with the optional sub-woofer fitted to our test car.


On the plus side, 60:40 split fold rear seats aid the carriage of larger or longer loads.

Having bulked up by 46 kilograms over the SP23 the SP25 can certainly use the extra seven kilowatts and 24 Newton-metres that its 2.5-litre engine pumps out.

The performance is certainly not ballistic, leave that to the turbocharged MPS, but it is more than adequate, while remaining civilised.

It’s at low revs that the performance suffers the most as peak power of 122kW comes in at 6000rpm and the 227Nm of torque arrives at 4000rpm, however there’s enough on hand for it to lug up hills adequately in higher gears.


That said it does perk up admirably if you shuffle down the clean shifting gearbox, with the nicely weighted clutch, and up the revs, which provides a raspy bark to the engine note.

Mazda claims a reasonable 8.6L/100km on 91RON petrol, and with quite a lot of country driving we managed 8.2L/100km, a more than commendable effort, but one we feel would be hard to replicate with a greater amount of city driving. Mazda says the SP25 emits 204 grams of CO2 for each kilometre travelled.

On the road it’s no surprise that the Mazda3 SP25 feels a lot like its predecessor, as they are fundamentally the same. There’s a balance to the handling that resists being too hard-edged, while the ride remains taut but compliant, never uncomfortable.


The suspension set-up is conventional with MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear.

I’m not sure I like the new-found lightness of the electro-hydraulic power steering, which often wants several bites of a corner when being hustled along.

Braking is more than adequate for the 1342kg of the SP25 with ventilated 300mm rotors at the front and 280mm solid discs at the rear.

On the plus side it is nicely weighted for around town use, perhaps indicating that Mazda knows the SP25 is more a looker than a doer in the performance arena.


We noticed on our launch drive that tyre noise was still an issue with the Mazda3 in general, it certainly been tamed from the previous model, but with lower profile tyres and a more boisterous engine the SP25 is not the quietest place to be, especially on the highway.

Smiley face or not the Mazda3 SP25 is a cheerful drive that will appeal to both past devotees and those who hanker for a chirpy, sporty ride that doesn’t challenge too much.


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    • http://. Naughtyius Maximus

      A bland dash writer thinks…………I dont remotely think so as swooping, flows well overall (especially at centre console) and gauges not boring as round protruding shape.

      That is a stunning comment to make me thinks!

    • adam (aka mada)

      The new model SP23 is once again, just as desirable for me personally as the first generation.
      Better refinement, quality and equipment, very nice 😉
      I’m one of the few that likes the exterior styling, mind you sales would suggest many also like the styling.

    • Milsie

      The previous SP23 also had a 6 speed manual gearbox. I know, because I owned one.

    • adam (aka mada)


      Correct. The updated previous generation SP23 introduced the 6speed manual and 5 speed auto.

    • Jake02

      I’d much rather this be number one selling than a Corolla! I think I like the 3 so much because it adds a sense of fun to the average car buyer (eg the smile at the front – doesn’t look that good but you can tell they did it to add a less-serious side to buying a car!). The interior looks quite fine, and the addition of sat-nav as standard (Maxx sport/SP25 only yes I realise) is a great thing.

      That bloody spare tyre though really pisses me off. The last 3 had it and that’s one of the reasons I drove straight away from Mazda and into Skoda. The worst part is, the actual spare is painted yellow and it’s 10cm thick! It’s not good!

      If they bring the diesel soon, and give it a high spec (as well as the 136kW engine, not 110). Then the 3 will continue to sell at a rapid rate!

      As part of the SP Lux pack, I’d like to see the bi-xenon headlamps added to the pack and also electric folding mirrors. These are common things on overseas spec cars and Australia (yes I know we get sat-nav) should get a high high spec too (if it’s gonna sell in such big numbers).

    • Big End

      Another nice Mazda…….but……that front smiley face detracts from overall great looks. I know Mazda will get away with it and sell plenty of these but it made me think……could you imagine the crap Ford would have got if it had this big silly smiling front on the Focus? The motoring media would have been brutal!! But being Mazda its ok and they just make a passing comment…….

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au OSU811

      BiG End I agree, I think the maz 3 is a good quality car with lots of features for the money. But that smiley front end would be enough to stop me buying one the prev gen sedan front looked way more sporty/masculine than this. maybe it appeals to females but not any males that I know like it!!Everyone bagged the sx-4 for looks but the front of this is way worse looking than a sx-4 s series hatch (not sedan)!!

    • adam (aka mada)

      Oh brother, the feminine vers masculine debate.
      If you purchase a vehicle heavily based on other peoples warped perceptions, you clearly aren’t buying to suit yourself!

    • philip

      Take a look at the 5th photo and tell me if the right-hand rear seat leather isn’t sagging. Not good for a brand new Japanese car.

    • ZoomZoom

      Thanks for the review guys.

      Considering the price of the sp25 has only gone up $160 and there has been so much equipment added compared to the previous generation, I believe it offers great value.

    • Mitch

      I dont think the extra money for the SP25 is worth it over the other models.

    • Anthony

      Got a new Mazda 6 wagon for the wife last year and will be getting a Mazda 3 MPS for myself within the next 6 months!!! In the meantime I have driven the SP25 and it’s a brilliant liitle car and for me the hatch version looks the best.

      On the smiley face, I like it so I guess I’m in the minority. The whole front end sits well with me, especially the bits around the fog lights.

    • Vid_Ghost

      I picked myself up one of these new model Mazda 3’s (Neo) a few months back when they first came out..

      Overall i’m very pleased with the car and couldnt be happier… The SP25 looks great in the showroom but just isnt worth the exta $10,000 over the Neo

      In black the smile isnt an issue Looky > http://i670.photobucket.com/albums/vv68/vid_ghost/05.jpg

    • Frontman

      Okay time to pick the little things wrong with the supposed “Darling” of the private buyer set.
      Firstly in size this car NO LONGER belongs to the small car set, it is closer to the medium sized original 6 and hence it’s fuel economy is similar. Not as easy to park etc for those customers that want a small car…

      Secondly, correct me if you will but this vehicle has only got two child anchorage points, and they are both side set. THe safest place, though not the most convenient, for a capsual / child seat is the centre of the rear seat. (more metal around it than anywhere else and further away from exploding windows…

      Thirdly, as pointed out the steering wheel has too many buttons. the basic idea of moving controls to the wheel was to prevent the need to remove hands ans vision to carry out a function. This wheel for at least a short time for some, but all the time for most will require a deatiled look at what button you are pressing. Buttons for the sake of it I’d say…

      Fourth Boot space is pitiful, 300L???? New Fiesta has 281L “IN A SMALL CAR!” Focus’ smallest boot (the XR5 is 62 litre’s larger and it’s standard hatch is 28% larger and they have equal room inside…

      As to the temporary spare though. I know of one person who paid teh extra to have the alloy instead of the temporary in his new car went on hollidays, got a flat put the alloy on and decided he’d wait till he got home to get the repair done. 100km from a town he hit a pot hole, another flat and his wife and two todlers had to wait 4 hours till help arrived. Several hundred in towing, and accomodation (Sunday night motel room). Later he admitted that had he used a Temporary he would have got it repaired straight away… Real smart!!

    • adam (aka mada)


      Ummm so what else would you suggest that would surpass the Mazda 3 for overall ownership satisfaction!?

    • adam (aka mada)

      Also, corolla sells to fleet/rentals, Mazda 3 doesn’t. I’d take a bet that mazda makes more profit on each 3 sold compared to Toyota and corolla while the 3 maintains better resale value.

    • adam (aka mada)


      Is any top of the line model in any make or model worth the extra asking price over the base models?

      It all depends on your buying needs/wants, hence luxury versions exist at all.

    • VW Freak

      I noticed this the other day on a new 3 – when you open the door, look inside behind the front guard. It’s undercoat! How cheap and nasty is that!!!

    • adam (aka mada)

      VW Freak,

      And? If you’re able to see the same location on many other vehicles you would find the same thing…

      I guess you could always spend $5000 more and buy a Golf and have better finish, worth the extra $5000 though? i don’t think so…
      It’s relative to price points!

    • Reckless1

      Adam, the Golf is worth the extra $5000. I’ve had an SP23 for a day and a Golf for a year. There’s no comparison. It’s more than just being painted everywhere.

      But the Mazda is definitely the car I’d get if VW/Skoda wasn’t there. Best of the rest by far.

    • adam (aka mada)


      For you the $5000 is worth the extra, for somebody else it may not be, spec levels in the golf are poor while refinement levels and overall finish is class leading.

      I prefer the handling dynamics of the 3 compared to the golf and one element which put me off big time is servicing and insurance costs for the golf compared to it’s more mainstream Japenese competition.
      Build quality/finish on the Mazda 3 is easily satifactory, while road noise is the biggest issue.
      I work in the auto trade and see how the previous golf and 3 age, the golf suffers from more interior grazes than others due to the easy to pick/scratch rubber coating on door pulls/window switches, you would be surprised.

    • adam (aka mada)


      And each of those vehicles you list have thier order from best in class to bottom of the pack.

      The 3 happens to be one of the best all round packages, the gold the most refined/high running costs.

    • maximark

      I have to admit that the SP25 look much better (at least from the photos) than Neo which I saw the other day at the mazda dealer. I have no doubt about Mazda good handling,and interior quality,still I’m not convinced about the style, it’s just the smiley face that really make the 3 look more feminine. I reckon the combination of front of Focus RV and the rear of Mazda3 would look great.

    • Pops

      Unfortunately Mazda have been listening to the media for too long & taken their title of “darlings of Japanese car design” to their heads.

      The 1st gen mazda3 was a good looker more so in sedan form & hasn’t really dated even by the end of its model cycle life.

      The new 3 however seems to be trying too hard. The front bumper looks to be drawn by an anime cartoon stylist & over dominates the rest of the cars dimensions in a similar sense to Peugeot’s corporate grille.

      MkVI Golf is still the pick of the litter however their high initial capital outlay & ridiculous servicing costs put me off purchasing another. Recently slugged $900 to change a timing belt for my MkIV!

    • adam (aka mada)

      The 3s front grille opening is not just for styling purposes, it’s actually very functional for efficient airflow compared to the previous generation 3 grille/bumper openings.

      Yep VW need to work on thier servicing costs big time.
      People forget how much a vehicle will cost them while paying the damn things off!

    • TSI

      OH! i was thinging that mazda and VW have a similar service cost…Some of my friend has mazda3 and told me the service is very expensive..Compare with the last time there was someone post the price list of VW service. (acceptable)

    • riceboy

      to add to the debate, I’ve had my Golf GTI for 1 yr, in that time the left back elec window stopped working 2 days and worked again by itself, the auto dimming rear view mirror has stopped working, while twisting the elec mirror adjustment knob to use the exterior mirror demisters, the knob snapped off at the base, and the DSG drives me insane when I’m parallel parking on a sloped road; the paint has quite a few marks with dust under the paint… I love the design of the Golf, especially the drivetrain, and the upmarket interior, but the quality of assembly and some of the materials and durability leaves alot to be desired. I have the 5 door version assembled in S Africa, I hear the 3 dr from Germany is better. Apparently the Golf Mark VI are all from Germany. Having ridden in friend’s Mazda 3 and 6 and speaking to Mazda/VW owners, the Japanese win hands down on quality.

    • milobob


      Mazda service is quite expensive, more so than a Honda Civic from memory. Serviced every 6mths/10000km doesn’t help either. GF just had the 2 year check-up on her SP23 and it was close to $400. That said every alternate service is around $250.

    • HAL

      Love the mazdas, great quality cars. Agree with whoever said it is no longer anywhere a small car – parked next to a new 3 sedan in my Mazda 6 the other day and they were essentially the same length.

      But this looks good, although obviously the front grille is not to everyone’s taste. I also have to say (and I’m being picky here) that the alloy wheels aren’t quite right. They are a very uninspiring, un-sporty looking alloy wheel. They could have designed one so much better, in much better keeping with the sporty design over-tones of the car. This seems to be an annoying habit creeping into the designs of the new Mazdas models – it’s the same story on the new 6 Luxury sports models, very average looking alloys IMO.

    • adam (aka mada)


      thats odd.
      Friends had a Toyota echo and traded up to a new mazda 6 and found dealership customer service and costs to be better with the mazda than Toyota.

      Remember that different makes and models can differ from one another based on service intervals etc.

      Mazda from work experience is no more expensive than Toyota on average while Honda is up there with VW.

    • adam (aka mada)


      The reality is ALL makes and models suffer from quality glitches at some point.

    • TSI

      then, why so many people keep saying that vw is very expensive service.. mazda has to service every 10000kms about $250, but vw is every 15000km about $300-$400.
      Is it similar ?

    • Frontman

      TSI Says:
      July 10th, 2009 at 11:57 am
      then, why so many people keep saying that vw is very expensive service..

      Because a mate of theirs cousin’s uncle’s best friend’s wife’s tennis partner’s husband said he had heard they were expensive to service………….. FACT 😉

    • TSI


    • mad max

      VW Freak, Its not undercoat. Its the base coat colour without the clear top coat. This is the same in most cars now in areas that are normally hidden. Look in the engine bay of most mettalic painted cars and you will see the same thing.

    • Pops


      I own a Golf & Civic so I can vouch for the servicing cost differential based on FACT.

      Minor services for the Civic are ~$200 compared to ~$400 for the Golf.

      Major servicing work further highlights the difference in cost. I recently had to spend 2k for a new timing belt & to replace the ignition coilpacks in my 2003 Golf. Trust me – when you have to fork out 2k for a service job which would cost 1k for equivalent work in a japanese motor you will appreciate the servicing cost factor.

    • Nick K

      The new Golf appears to trump the Mazda especially with state of the art ultra fuel efficient engines and gearboxes and perceived quality. The only problem is real world quality and reliability… in a word, terrible. I’ve owned several Golfs and they are not even close to a good Japanese car in quality and reliability (Why do you think Toyota and Mazda sell as many cars as they do). Now if the Japanese can match the innovative (but unreliable) VAG engineering and add their great reliability, then that would be something.

    • TSI

      Nick K said “(Why do you think Toyota and Mazda sell as many cars as they do)”
      If VW drop the price as same as toyota and mazda, who are going to be the best sell ?? Also yes is Australia Toyota and mazda is the best sell, look at the europe, which one is more popular ??????

    • Vid_Ghost

      HAL, i couldnt agree with you more about the SP25 wheels i ended up putting some Mazda 6 lux 17″ alloys on my neo, I liked them better.. Looky > http://www.ozmazdaclub.com/forum/member-rides/15391-my-2009-mazda-3-neo-black-pics.html

    • D

      Vid_Ghost, it’s good to see you got rid of those black rims that you put on it- looks much better now.

    • adam (aka mada)


      I wonder if cruze will sell in the same volumes as the 3, private sales that is 😉

    • HAL


      Nice work. Looks much better than the original rims. At first I thought you meant the 18’s from the 6 luxury sports, and I was a bit afraid to open your link. Never thought of the 17’s from the luxury model, but they look good.

    • Vid_Ghost

      HAL, Yep i didnt wanna go with 18″s. The cost of tires start to get a little high and i like the thought of having a little more then a strip of rubber on my car hehe…

      D, Yep!… I got over the 15″ black rims… 17″ Mazda 6 alloys look more classy… :)

    • Charles

      The first gen 3 was great because it was the first of the best bunch from Mazda. The new one looks too similar to the original, if you squint you could barely tell the difference! We consumers are making it too easy for car manufacturers, from generation to generation nothing much has changes yet we continue to reward them by buying more. Yes there are slight design updates (but not enough) and engineering updates but these are hardly exciting. Instead of introducing innovative in-class features like start/stop function, key card, bi-xenon etc, (features that the majority of Aus 3 customers wouldn’t even know about.) they offer sat nav and B grade leather. This has been done before (eg. in late 90s Hyundai introduced sat nav to shift the Sonata, heck even proton offer free leather just to seal the deal) This formula is so ‘yesterday’, dressing up cars to increase appeal is like Pauline Hanson dressed in Prada, it doesn’t work. If we put this into perspective, Gen 1 3 was like Jennifer Hawkins, bursting onto the scene with a fresh and alluring image. Gen 2 3 is Pamela Anderson, its been done before and is boring regardless of any physical changes.

    • Vid_Ghost

      Yes.. we also missed out on heated and electronic seats with memory presets rain sensing wipers and tire pressure monitors that are available in the overseas model Mazda 3’s I’m hoping Mazda fix this with the 2010 update next year. or at least have these features as an option.

    • HAL


      I guess I understand what you’re saying, but couldn’t the same be said about most successful models that have stood the test of time? For eg, the Golf? Very similar styling cues from generation to generation. I guess you could say we are making it too easy for them, but you can hardly blame them for wanting to contemporise a model without straying too far from a proven successful formula.

      Just a thought anyway.

    • Charles

      Yes the same could be said for the Golf. But thats in its 6th iteration, changing it too dramatically could damage the brand for the aficionados who have been there since day one. And besides, the mk5.5 is just temporary bridge before the mk7 comes in 2 or so years. The positive about the golf is that at least it introduced new technologies for the segment, like the 7 spd DSG and park assist. They are daring enough to do that, they influence change but Mazda are following the masses. Being Japanese, they had so much potential to build and offer a better new 3.

    • Vid_Ghost

      Charles, The price and total cost of the car is holding Mazda back from implementing these features. There competition is priced lower with VW being priced higher. But VW is starting to creap up on Mercedes features wise.. Its all relevant to cost..
      As technology gets cheaper these features do inevitably become a feasible option for lower priced cars. Mazda looks to be going to reliability over more features with the new mazda 3 testing making a new world record

    • nobody

      Charles I understand what you say about the changes each generation but I think Mazda has done well with the new 3. It’s not a mind blowing change but for what it is, it’s a welcome update. Mazda is not a big company with vast resources like VW to make really noticeable changes everytime. Not that VW makes significant changes everytime either. I like the new engines in the Golf but park assistant isn’t really something that’s needed for a car it’s size.

      If you look at the 323, the previous gen 3 and the new one, the changes have been quite significant style wise. Interior quality, drive ability etc has always improved too.

      Dare I say they do a better job at improving their cars than most of their Japanese counterparts. You also get a quality product that’s not as boring to drive as their hometown rivals too.

      I certainly don’t hope that VW releases a new Golf in the coming 2 years as they would piss alot of people off who’ve just bought the new one they’ve released now.

    • Charles

      Don’t get me wrong, I am unbiased and I think the 3 is a decent car. They are great at being reactive rather than proactive; it’s rather disappointing and they can do better. It’s all I am suggesting. :)

    • bendall

      I own a Gen VI golf

      Re: VW service costs……..to many rumours i am afraid. I have lifted this info from the Golf thread cos i was too lazy to type it myself. My dealer has confirmed the posters figures are correct (within a few dollars)……myth busted panic freaks

      The poster says:

      “……..I have checked with the service dept of my VW dealer regarding the servicing of the DSG and regular services. DSG apparently is serviced at 60,000klm and 120,000klm, at the same time as the car gets it’s general service. The costs, as at today, for the services, INCLUDING the DSG service is:

      15000klm/1 year=$247.16
      30000klm/2 year=$418.43
      45000klm/3 year=$247.16
      60000klm/4 year=$652.64
      75000klm/5 year=$247.16
      90000klm/6 year=$418.43
      105000klm 7 year= $247.16
      120,000klm 8 year= $725.00

      which is obviously why the service costs are higher for 60,000 and 120,0000. The head maintenance guy went on to clarify that unless there is a separate problem with the car or gearbox, the DSG does not require separate ongoing servicing – ever……”

    • Andrew

      Also don’t the 3s require servicing every 10,000kms??

      Where as most cars are every 15,000kms…

    • Andrew M

      Firstly to correct the article, the previous model did actually come with the 5sp auto, not a 4sp as claimed.

      I also reckon its worth an extra half a star for what is easily the class winner.

      Also, if you want to pick on a bland dash, you might want to see the rest of the competition first because the Mazda has always been the better one and this gen is no exception. I would hate to see how the Corolla or even more so Impreza Dash rate on the scale of blandness…………

      Also if steering lightness is a problem, then perhaps a ride in the Impreza will make you appreciate how good the road feel is in the 3.

      I also read complaints of road noise, but I found the new gen much much better and very quiet and refined.
      Its also notably punchier than the previous model which was one of the quicker ones in the class to start with

    • realcars

      Who the heck would pass this up for a tarted up Corolla?

    • Andrew M

      Yes Andrew, the 3 does need servicing at 10,000k intervals, but I reckon 4cyls shouldnt go past 10,000 anyway.
      4 Bangers are dead set oil burners. The oil looks stuffed at 5,000ks.

      The only reasonable case for 15,000 intervals is 6cyl and LPG vehicles

    • Andrew M

      Also on the cluttered wheel…….

      Well when you consider that one side of the wheel is for sat nav, there is no distraction created by that because I would hope people arent motoring along whilst trying to set it.

      Also now that the radio controls use a different shaped button, it also lessens the confusion.

      I just refreshed myself with the interior shots…….
      I dont think so Tim….

    • Andrew M

      Totally agree Adam,
      The 3 would turn twice the profit per unit compared to the Corolla.

      3 doesnt do fleets, and they also dont move prices for the private buyers. Good luck trying to get some dollars off.

      But in saying that its not all bad because resale is miles above the competition so you well and truely get your money back

    • Gilly

      Only fools would use dealership servicing.
      Some charge you a labour rate close to $100 p/h whilst paying an apprentice $12-$15p/h.
      All services are done within an allocated time frame, meaning your old oil has not even had a chance to drain out properly, and you are charged labour rates for inspections that do not happen even they make up 90% of the content on the scheduled service.
      Find or ask around for a decent licensed mechanic with a good reputation, insist on using genuine parts i.e filters, during the warranty period to cover all bases in the event of a warranty claim and get better value for your money.
      You will be surprised on how many unknown assembly faults a new car has when given the comb over by a decent mechanic. In this instance a dealership service would either never pick up the fault or if they do they will neglect to report it.

    • Andrew M

      I agree that getting the apprentice to do the oil and the higher charge out rate etc,
      but you must remember that the charge out rate doesnt olny include a direct labour charge.

      in that charge out rate you are also paying for the girl that takes the phone calls aswell as the flashy neon sign and television advertising.

      Also since when did an apprentice cost 12-15 bucks???

    • FrugalOne

      adam (aka mada)

      Re price, where does one draw the line?

      Base model golf in auto no options $32k driveaway

      Base model 3 in auto and safety pk.$27k driveaway

      Base model Corolla in auto no opt. $24k driveaway

      Base model Lancer hatch auto hatch $23k driveaway

      Base model i30 in auto no options $22k driveaway

      Not sure what the Focus or Cruze are selling for, but i REALLY want a Japanese quality built car, so would/nt consider the Cruze [Korean and a sedan] and the [Focus, S/African and boring, no cheaper either]

      Chinese and Protons, mid to high teens, PASS not totoal desperate for the cheapest in the field, after VALUE not lowest price!

      The Lancer is looking good for me, and NO WAY is the golf worth $10k more.Bang for buck and features the Lancer cannot be beat.

      QUESTION is [please C/A] whats the mail on the MY10 Lancer, currently MY09 is in runout and all i can get from Mitsubishi “improved running changes” no idea when its out or what actually has changed.

      To many choices is the real issue!



      Vote: 5 5

    • Gilly

      Also since when did an apprentice cost 12-15 bucks???

      Was I being too generous?

      I might add that little diagnostic print out some dealers give is also a bogus sense of security that they are the pinnacle of high tech servicing. In the old days they adjusted your handbrake to get the same outcome.

    • Jayson

      I just can’t reconcile the looks of the “3”. nd I own an 08 Mazda “2”).

      I bought a mark VI Golf, & I’m absolutely delighted with it.
      Germans cars really do drive differently than Japanese cars.
      It’s a refreshing change.

    • Frenchie

      6 monthly service intervals, what a load of crap! They only do it to make more money and improve the vehicles reliability (which you are paying for).

      A friend had a Subaru Liberty and was servicing every 6 months regardless of Kms. It cost him heaps and in the end had a gut-full. He took it to a good mechanic and he found Subaru had not been doing all the servicing by the book!

    • Falcodore

      Why the hell is my earlier comment still awaiting moderation? I only used the word c*ckpit, friggin rediculous CA!

    • AAA

      Isn’t the Golf in the same price range and a direct competitor to Focus, Corolla, Astra, Lancer, Mazda3 and Civic in Europe?

    • AAA

      The 2.0L Mazda3 still has a timing belt? That is an extra $500-$900 to service every couple of years.

    • Frontman

      the one little thing you seem to be missing in your response to the dealership service is that if something does go wrong, then the manufacturer has less chance in getting out of paying for it under warranty. Computer updates/patches are only available through franchised workshops etc.. there was recently a campaign by a large mechanical chain group to force manufacturers to release the computers and updates to all mechanical shops because of this reason.. why should they? If they have dealers paying 100k a year for the right of a franchise then they deserve exclusiveness. I’d wager that even though your car had never been to a manufacturer approved workshop, if something went wrong 2 months or 10k out of warranty you would expect them to fix it and complain when they said too bad so sad…

      As to the Lancer that keeps getting mentioned, I was in the unfortunate possition to be beside an accident yesterday where a ’00 Sportage ran into the back of an ’09 Lancer. Heavy traffic situation (well for Brisbane anyway) moving at 25>30Kph. Sportage braked late and skidded into Lancer. Sportage broke 1 headlight, wrecked the bumper skin and bent leading edge of bonnet. The Lancer had Boot lid unopenable, Rear bumper skin, boot floor, C pillar, turret Drivers door and Right hand front guard damage (the doors had been shoved forward onto the guard). Now I know that this is a five star car, but the amount of damage was just totally out of proportion for the accident. Everyone who stopped, including the towies was shocked. After witnessing that the Lancer is Definately OFF the list. (unfortunately because I like teh look)

      • bob

        Actually, providing your vehicle is serviced by a licenced mechanic and according to the service schedule, then the manufactuer cannot get out of warranty claims. Having the appropriate computer and updates helps give the dealer a competitive edge.

        Of course, as per your wager, that doesn’t stop them trying it on. A VW salesman attempted to tell me the other week that if the vehicle was serviced anywhere apart from THAT dealership my warranty would be instantly void. What Rubbish.

    • FrugalOne


      “Sportage ran into the back of an ‘09 Lancer. Heavy traffic situation (well for Brisbane anyway) moving at 25>30Kph”

      4WD’s/SUV’s by nature sit a lot higher than a std. vehicle.

      I would:

      Like to see the Sportage run into any other vehicle at the same said speed on the same road etc.

      Like to see a *normal* car run into the back of it.



    • Mike

      I think the Cruze will evenutally give the Mazda3 a run for it money. If they do build the hatch here there is no reason it shouldn’t

    • http://ozmazdaclub.com ozmazdaclub

      After reading thru all the responses some of us have gotten away from what the topic is….

      The Mazda 3 is a bold and fresh new design and as a mid 40’s male I like….so does that make me a girlie man.

      What alot of dribble has been written in some of the responses.

      The road test was fair and written critically by the tester but there are a few things that I don’t agree on but choice is what it comes down to.

      The outgoing SP23 had the 6spd man and the 5spd auto so that research was an oversight.

      I have driven both 2.0lt and 2.5lt in hatch and sedan and I can say that Mazda have made improvements that quite noticable. I found that the autos gear change quite smooth and didn’t hunt like in some of its competitives.

      The interior and trim on the entire range is pleasat to the eye and the dash is functional and within reach of the driver. The manual 6spd gearbox is easy to use and silky smooth. I didn’t find the steering that light like the tester quoted and the seats are quite supportive. The amount of buttons on the SP25 steering was something you need to get use to but you do forget they are there….

      The fit and finish on these cars is up to Mazdas standard and the cabin noise has been reduced but in saying that honestly how many people drive around not listening to something coming from the stereo.

      My personal choice would be a hatch and on the 22nd July I have been privileged to join other loyal Mazda fans to drive the new MPS….

    • Devil’s Advocate

      This is for Frontman. You mentioned the 3 only has 2 child seat anchorage points. That is incorrect. Like most other hatches/wagons, regardless of brand, the anchorage point is up the back just below the latch above the floor. It means that you have the straps running across the hatch area. That is no different to just about every other hatch/wagon. Some have all the anchor points up the back meaning you loose hatch space no matter what. In this respect the 3 is actually better than some and no worse than most.

      300L is in the lower end of hatch size, but it still isn’t the worst in class for eg Corolla = 283L. Still not as big as the Golf or Focus though!

      I agree totally about the Space Saver spare. What a pain, however Mazda is not the only culprit here either. Look at the “non-optioned” spare that comes with “Australia’s Favorite Car” that is designed specifically for out tough climate and “means a great deal to Autralia”. To me that is even more deplorable. :-)

    • RoFlmaTiC

      Frontman, high crumpling of the front and rear doesn’t correlate with lower safety of the car, as long as there is no intrusion into the cabin. In fact a large crumple zone actually increases safety, you should know this.

    • Byron

      Don’t mind new Mazda 3. Good looks inside & out, great engines. I don’t see why it shouldn’t sell in huge numbers. What i don’t get is how Corolla sells. Get rid of it, its fugly, crap engine, evrything. Holden Cruze is way better. I’d rather any car other than Corolla or Focus to lead the small car market. Go HOLDEN!

    • Tim

      Andrew M: Who is the Tim guy you speak of lol, I don’t see a comment from me!

      On topic: Love this car. The SP25 is stylish, well built, drives very nicely and is everything you would really want in a car. The Golf IMO is so boring and so generic looking that I wouldn’t even bother taking it for a test drive. I like the interior of this 3, better than the older frumpy looking one and how the sat nav is integrated is fantastic. I was also very surprised with the quality of the material.

      Great car. Better than the normal hurd of Corolla’s, Focus’s, Lancers.

    • Tim

      And the first generation ‘3’ did have a four speed auto in the first few years of its lifecycle, which was replaced by the 5 speed in the last year or so of its life.

    • aj555

      After dropping the 6 in for it’s six monthly service (don’t get me started on that) I thought I would have a look at a the new 3. The interior ist a slight improvement over the previous model,though there is much part bin sharing between the 3/6.As for the exterior, I couldn’t get used to the smiley face. The dealer mentioned that the darker models sell better as it obscures the grin a bit. The rear with the angular lights just don’t work for me, give me the old 3 style instead.
      If you want to see real cost cutting though, jump into the new MX5 and lower the sun visor to reveal the cheapest mirror and plastic trim detailing around – this is a $50k car!

    • crouchy

      ¡puɐʇs pɐǝɥ pǝpuǝʇxǝ sıɥʇ ɯoɹɟ punoɹɐ uɹnʇ ǝɯ ʇǝl ʍou ¡ǝlqıɹɹǝʇ sʞool ɹǝɥʇɐǝl ʇɐɥʇ puɐ ǝɯ ɹoɟ ɥƃnouǝ ƃuıʞɐǝɹqpunoɹƃ ʇusı ʇsnɾ ɹoıɹǝʇuı ǝɥʇ ɯɯɯɥ

    • Martin

      ANTI-SPAM: Mazda

      I think I would rather the KIA Cerato Koup, 129kw on the 2.4L. I just can’t get past the big smiley grille on the 3.

    • http://caradvice Ron

      When the Corolla is released towards the end of this year with the 2 litre and 5 speed Auto, this will be a better car than what it is now, however will it be able to match the Maxx Sport 2 litre. The KW would have to be somewhere near 115 and NM would have to be around 200 – a better car than the ‘slow’ current 1.8 Corolla.

    • http://caradvice Ted

      The 3 always, including last year had a 4 speed auto, withnthe exception of the SP23.

    • Devil’s Advocate

      Correct Ted. However the review was of the SP25, so when comparing it to the previous version of the equivalent model, the review is still incorrect saying the 6 speed manual in the test car replaces the old 5 speed. On a side note, the 3 Diesel also had a 6 speed manual. :-)

    • Fred says

      My wifes Mazda 3 40 k service was $600 + . Way over priced. My 1997 80 series diesel majors were a similar cost ,admittedly that was 12 years ago. Apart from that and the road noise on rough roads ,the Mazda 3 diesel is a gem. Drove the latest 3 with that face ,an auto, and cannot compare the 2 cars. The new petrol engined 3 needed a bag full of revs to move off the line with any speed,the steering was way too light and the interior styling was below par. The turbo diesel would eat it for breakfast Why has Mazda been so quiet about the diesel 3?

    • Unhappy 3

      Have had an SP25 for a month.
      It sucks petrol like it going out of fashion 12.6l (our other car a BMW325i E90 9.6l)
      Main gripe THE FRONT PARKING SENSORS ARE USELESS they only have 2 sensors & only work “on objects on the kerb” (Mazda Australia quote)and the use of that is? Pretty poor Mazda!
      On servicing our BMW has cost $1200 over 4 years 2 year 30K – $600, 4 year 60K – $600 at a BMW Dealer.
      Maybe Mazda’s are like Inkjet Printers – pay nothing for the printer & then sting you on the consumables!

    • No to Smiley

      Like the old one better. That front end is a big turn off. I laugh when I see one on the road. I think it’s better than the Corolla though. I class Corollas as whitegoods on wheels. The interiors on Toyotas are boring as.
      As for the comments on the child safety points, the KIA Cerato Hatch has all 3 located behind the seats. Therefore, you don’t loose boot space while placing your baby capsule in the safest spot in the car. And you can pick one of them up for less than $18,000 drive away if you shop around. Save your money and your kid at the same time.

    • Neo Utopia

      The Volkswagen Golf with the 1.4 twin charged engine used 26% less fuel and emits 27% less carbon dioxide while providing a similar 0 to 100 time (9.5 seconds versus the 3’s 8.? time. But I aggree, the 3 looks more interesting than the Golf, it is probably a bit more dynamic to drive as well. People who like a more conservative looking car and car more about climate change should look at a Golf, while people who are less conservative and don’t care about climate change as much should be happy with the 3.

      • my1stgolf

        just out of curiosity….have you actually driven both cars in question?
        I have just spent over a month deciding between the Mazda sp25 and the Golf 118 TSI and while it was not an easy decision as both cars have their + & -, I ended up choosing the Golf because it was a more refined car to drive, more powerful in low range especially with 240Nm torque, hugged the road nicely and evenly weighted in the steering due to speed sensitive power steering.
        I am not knocking the Mazda 3 as it certainly is more eye candy in the looks department, well I am not totally in love with the front lower half, but I figured once I was inside the car, the driving experience was more important to me
        and the “heated” leather seats are what I already had so wasnt prepared to go with the option of leather un-heated as in the case of Mazda, real shame this wasnt an option with Mazda.
        I also felt the steering to be very light in the Mazda, but no doubt you would get used to this.
        I believe the Mazda to be more of a fun drive and the Golf more of a refined drive…this is my personal opinion after test driving them both 5 times a piece.
        If I did not have the new Golf to choose from, I would have definitely brought the sp 25

        Oh and by the way….the Golf 118 TSI gets to 100km/h in 8 seconds, not 9.5 as you reported

        • Luke Brinsmead

          You’re right “my1stgolf”. I’ve just bought a 77 TSI Golf, I found it to be a better all rounder than the 3.

          • Zaccy16

            didn’t know you had a 77 tsi golf luke, its a great engine isn’t it, refined, torquey but good on fuel and a very good gti like sound!

    • Rob

      Always liked the look of the old SP23, they look great on the road .. but this new SP25 I think looks pretty aweful from any angle especially that ridiculous “smiley” front end! .. maybe it’s just laughing at itself?

      I just couldn’t bring myself to drive one of these, they look terrible!

      Come to think of it I’m struggling to think of any Jap built car these days that doesn’t look disastrous!

    • Gary

      Correct me if i’m wrong but when are mazda going to get the toys in the high end models that most other manufacturers have? Smart key start and entry, auto wipers, auto lights, electro-chromatic rear view mirror. Even the corolla has all these in the ZR

      • ZoomZoom

        Sure it may not have those features, (although the MPS has those and a lot more) but it comes with useful features that the other don’t have, such as sat nav standard on half the models. The other cars in this class have to pay at least $2000 for this and some don’t even offer it as an option. Auto wipers, auto lights, are these features that make you wanna buy a car? You can do all of these manually.

        • Allan

          I’m sure you can look up a map as well

    • May Steel

      I have had my SP25 3 months now I had the front park sensors installed and they are crap Mazda have had the car back 3 times trying to fix them and now tell me that there is nothing wrong with them (as they cant fix them) they beep almost every time you stop at traffic lights for no reason, totally useless and a waste of money…

      • Carfanatic

        you say that now, wait till you run into something while you are parking.

        • bob

          I’ve never understood the parking sensor thing. I’ve never scratched a bumper parking. I guess its another toy to allow people to get away with just not paying attention while driving.

    • maz6

      aj555 says:
      July 11, 2009 at 7:12 pm
      After dropping the 6 in for it’s six monthly service (don’t get me started on that)

      As a new Mazda 6 owner, just wondering if you would share what you meant earlier here or is it on the Mazda 6 thread – apologies I know this is about Mazda 3, but am very curious to know what your cars problems are, how old it is etc etc, if you have already shared this on a thread in Mazda 6 review, pls tell me which one

    • Ted

      On the weekend I drove both the SP25 and the Maxx Sport both auto. I found the Maxx Sport to be lively with more throttle response and quit inside. Ths SP25 sounded like a front load washing machine and I do not think the extra 3K is worth it for the SP25 – only thing I would like in the Maxx Sport would be the Auto A/C. The SP25 did not feel any quicker than the SP25 and this may be dues to the it being near 80kg heavier that the Maxx Sport. I think that Mazda needs to reduce litre size and add turbo / supercharger to smaller, fuel efficent engines – I also think that Mazda makes excellent Rotary motors and many years ago, I have a hand full of rotary models. (put a rotary in the 3) If Mazda made piston engines like Honda, then we would have a nice package.

      Thoughts anybody.


      • Gary

        Agreed. Just bought an SP25 after test driving a Neo Model and I’d have to say the 2.0 litre is more responsive and more willing to rev than the 2.5. In fact I reckon the SP25 was slower than the regular model and engine was sounded more gravelly… noisier. There isn’t enough KW to justify the increase in engine capacity. Should’ve been closer to 140KW than just a meagre 14KW increase to make it stand out from the standard engine. Price wise, I don’t think it’s worth the extra outlay. Yes it has some added comfort features but it still lacks low end torque and needs a decent rev around 4000rpm to get going. Needs also another gear or too as fuel economy isnt good either.

    • Neo Utopia

      Nice design work from Laurence Van Der Akker!

    • angela

      WOW what a massive confusion – i just cant decide between the mazda sport maxx and the golf – i really like the drive of the diesel golf but am so concerned about the servicing costs – also someone mentioned that diesel is going to become quite expensive as there is a shortage of diesel on the way – rrrrhhhh i wish i knew which one to get this is becoming such a stress as i need a car pronto !!!!! help

    • James

      I like the blue ones there the best.

    • James

      Little blue Jellybean.