You wake up in the morning; groggy and grumpy because you've got yet another day of work ahead of you. You perform your morning rituals and, with a heavy heart and a sigh, walk out the door. And there it stands. Your Mazda3, just as stunning as ever. Still making you feel as excited as you did when you first picked up the keys and took it for a test drive.
Well that's the feeling I get every morning whilst getting into my Mazda3 SP25 Astina. And so it should. Petrol heads everywhere look for that unicorn car, the all rounder, the one that ticks all the right boxes.
Just looking at it, even when it's parked up, you can't help but think "The Curves, The Lines. Man that's one good looking car". And the funny thing is, it'll never get old. Every time you walk up to it you'll think that same thing. And then, you sit inside.
Immediately you'll feel an almost European-esque kind of luxury and then you see the big Mazda emblem on the steering wheel and get taken aback, because "you wouldn't expect it from a Japanese car". Everything you touch just feels nice on your finger tips. The leather, the buttons, the steering wheel; everything is in just the right spot. The 7 inch touch screen MZD infotainment system controlled via a BMW style iDrive knob is user friendly and very easy to get used to. The audio system is a testament to the name BOSE, with clean, crisp sound coming from the 9 speakers, and a bass that will blow your mind. Above the speedo cluster, there's a heads up display that shows speed, lane departure warning, distance from vehicle ahead on radar cruise control and whilst using the navigation, it will show instructions, so you don't have to take your eyes of the road.
All round, it's simply a very nice place to be. Take that Europe.
In this particular model you get the safety pack as standard. This includes stability control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, smart braking system, and smart city braking system. Of the 5 features, 4 of them work well, tested by yours truly. The smart city braking…I'm not eager nor brave enough to find out.
Under the hood is a 2.5 litre 4 cylinder engine, married up to a six speed automatic gearbox. The engine has plenty of oomph, creating 138kw and 250 nm of torque, helping those city overtakes. All that power and you still get an average of 7l/100 km. The gearbox is very smooth in its shifts and if you want to have a more involved driving experience, swap it in to manual mode and you can use the flappy paddles on the steering wheel or the shifter on the gear stick. It's no dual clutch gearbox, but for an automatic it has surprisingly little lag between gear changes.
The main surprise you'll find is how well rounded the car handles. Despite the fact that the 18 inch rims and the relatively low profile tires, can make some roads feel a little rough, it's a good mix of comfort and handling, erring slightly on the side of comfort. In saying that, find yourself a long, windy road and the car really comes into its own. Steering is responsive and the feedback is really positive. You can turn in hard without losing grip and if you push too hard, under-steer is quite manageable. Personally a little less body roll would've been preferred, but as a complete handling package, “it's grown up with a little bit of cheek”. Good show you boffins at Mazda. Good show.
All in all , it's a star. It has its little kinks - The tire noise is shocking when you get up to highway speeds, although if you crank up the stereo, you can kind of get over it. Storage space inside the cabin is minimal; some door pockets would've been a plus. But I'm nit picking.
I love this car. It really has a Jeckle and Hyde thing going on. If you want it to be a refined cruiser it'll be that. If you want to take it to the hills and enjoy the road, OH FOR SURE, it'll do that.
All and all, satisfaction is the order of the day, and I can guarantee from personal experience, you will have a smile on your face as you're driving home after work via that scenic route, on that windy road.