My 2010 SP25 with 75,000km is a superbly built car that continues to delight every time I drive it. I do many long trips and enjoy the extra power and torque of the 2.5-litre engine, especially when overtaking on country roads, along with the crisp shifting and light clutch on the six-speed manual.
The handling is first class, nothing else comes close at this pricepoint, and the ability to drive it enthusiastically around twisty roads is delightful. The only downside is that road noise, which is not overly intrusive, is still there – especially tyre noise. On the subject of tyres, I have fitted 215s rather than 205s – all still legal, but the handling has improved on what was a great handler to begin with.
The interior is beautifully constructed, and even after eight years is still looking good. The instruments are clear and easily read, except for the sat-nav, and the ability to turn the brightness down on all of them at night – but still be able to read them – is great. The interior lighting is excellent, especially the funky blue light in the ceiling above the gear selector that adds a touch of luxury.
The sound system is superb and offers a crisp, sharp sound that makes conversation via Bluetooth easy to understand and hear. The six-stack CD is easy to load and the CDs sound fantastic through the six speakers.
There are a couple of minor niggles I want to point out. First, the absence of a temperature gauge is annoying, and a blue and red light are inadequate. Secondly, the red text indicating air-con and other minor functions is not as clear as my Mazda 6 of the same year. The last niggle is there are no reverse parking sensors, which should be standard.
You sit high up in the 3 on very comfortable seats, which endure hours of driving without giving me a backache. The wipers are excellent, as are the high-beams, but the low-beams could be better. I am so glad there are no automatic wipers, as these have failed on my Mazda 6 and are ridiculously expensive to repair. The heated rear window and the front window demisters work really quickly to clear the screens, especially in winter. The dual-zone climate control works really well, but I haven't used it yet on really hot days, and the heater is brilliant.
For a car that is eight years old, it stacks up very well in today's world. While lacking some of the more modern safety features, such as rear cross-traffic alert and reversing camera, it is still a safe, reliable and fun car to drive.