The 2010 Mazda3 SP25 is a talented all-rounder for those looking for a sporty, feature-some and attractive small to medium sized sedan. My particular vehicle is fitted with the standard 6-speed manual, Luxury Pack including leather upholstery, 10-speaker BOSE audio system and sliding centre armrest and an electric sunroof. I highly recommend you seek models with these options, as the standard 6-speaker system in non-luxury Mazdas is pretty shocking – sounds tinny and doesn’t invite you to pump the music. The sliding armrest is probably the second best part of this option as it changes the driving ergonomics enormously on long cruises, and if you have long arms like myself allows for shifting whilst still resting your elbow. Lastly, the leather seating and door trims, although it looks fantastic, it lacks the suppleness and texture of European brands’ leather. Obviously, you get what you pay for but a bit of improvement here would do wonders for the vehicle’s overall ambience.
The inline 2.5L MZR engine has 122kw of power and a very respectable 227nm of torque available from 4,000rpm. This engine feels quite large for a small vehicle and emphasizes a different direction Mazda has taken to other rivals. As most companies are downsizing capacity and adding forced induction, this to me seems like a less complicated option for a long-lasting and durable engine. In the right gear, the 2.5L pulls very well and feels comparable to 6-cylinder Commodores from the past decade or so, but once loaded and automatic climate control is running, you can really feel some labouring in the wrong gear and performance is substantially affected. This also affects fuel consumption by roughly 1.5l/100kms only because you need to work the throttle a little harder in order to get moving with traffic. I’ve experienced the same thing with the BK series 2L engine also, however the 2.2L MZR-CD engine featured in the diesel is completely un-phased by the climate control.
The 6-speed manual is a quick-shifting unit, however there is an unpleasant level of clutch-grind when taking off with a little bit of revs. Although this is normal in most manuals, the SP25 experiences a level of vibration/sound that I have not heard in the Mazda6 6-speed I have driven. The manual seems better suited to the 2L engine as it is much lighter and can yield fantastic fuel economy without too much effort!
At the time of writing I have covered 23,000kms over 15 months and fuel economy is averaging 8.41L/100km according to my ‘fuel-trip’ (HIGHLY recommend you download the full version) app on my iPhone 4S. Servicing has costed between $200-$300 from my local Mazda dealership which is reasonable in the class (for makes not offered fixed-price service agreements).
As I noted previously, my SP25 is heavily optioned, however it also features most of the mod-cons expected from most top-of-the-range small cars of the time. The new model comes standard with the luxury pack, as well as keyless entry/push-start and bi-xenon headlights. Anyway, so the 2010 model stands out with its 17-inch wheels, side-skirts and aero bumpers, dual exhausts, fog-lights, Bluetooth streaming and phone connectivity, satellite navigation and a plethora of steering wheel buttons and silver accents which smarten up the cabin. Up front, the thick bolstered seats are supportive and comfortable, with the sunroof providing loads of light (and WIND NOISE).
All functions are within arm’s reach and there is ample storage, including an enormous glovebox. I also love the ambient lighting in the door grabs and sun-glasses holder, which provide a blue hue in the cabin to light up the shifter and doors. However it seems that Mazda forgot about rear passengers; an obvious lack of rear seat knee and foot room, lighting and storage. There are bottle holders in the doors and 2 cup holders in the center armrest, but no door pockets or knickknacks or rear air-conditioning vents to keep the cabin at a comfortable climate with less effort. The boot, however, is generous at over 400L, with a decent level of egress and space-saver spare under the flat floor.
I highly recommend you either find an example with them or install reverse parking sensors on sedan models, as the rear-vision is shocking due to the height of the boot! Sensors take out much of the guesswork and are inexpensive for piece of mind, especially if you have young children around. Mine were $499 from a local auto-electrician and I have no regrets.
Overall, the 2010 Mazda3 SP25 is a great car, but lacks in a few comfort features and falls down in a few areas of refinement such as NVH and sometimes feels unsettled over regular bumps on Sydney’s roads. Since its release, the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus pip it for these aspects, but the SP25 is still a fantastic option from Japan and has been 100% reliable in all areas.