I purchased my Mazda 3 SP25 auto hatch in May 2014. Before I proceed with my review, I think it's important to understand how and what I use the car for. I live with my partner in Canberra with our two dogs and drive mainly to work and to Sydney a few times each year.
The car's computer reports an average fuel consumption of 7.3L/100km with an average speed of 49km/h. I reckon that's pretty decent for an NA 2.5-litre engine. Engine power is more than enough for me, though I expected a little bit more from an engine this size.
There is a little bit of road noise on rough surfaces on the Sydney-Canberra freeway but doesn't disturb me as I always have music playing in the car. Part of me thinks I noticed it only after reading about NVH online. It's not that bad. I did get some lower back pain during some of my Sydney trips but normally get this in cars without lumbar support. My issue with most car makers is lumbar support is standard only on top trims.
The MZD system is awesome, but not without some teething problems. As someone who loves gadgets I have found the MZD to be one of the best car infotainment units around. Very easy to use and the GPS is the best I've used in a car (especially with the command controller). So while driver user experience is great, passenger isn't. My partner can't easily change songs as a passenger. Next/Previous buttons are on the steering wheel and the only way a passenger can change songs is to navigate to the music app using the command controller. Hopefully the next model has got dedicated Prev/Next buttons accessible to the passenger.
I gave 9.5 to price and features to this specific model (SP25) as I believe this is the car with the best value. I got it for $28,400 driveaway including a couple of extras worth about $2000. That's excellent value for what you get. Have a look at the complete Mazda 3 spec list... 138kW engine; sat-nav; auto lights; auto wipers; climate control; keyless entry with push start; start-stop; etc.
My biggest pet peeve is something most do not mention. It's the fact that there is no dedicated button/switch/knob that locks all doors. The car has central locking but will only work when you lock the driver's door. If one of your passengers have manually unlocked their doors to get out of the car, the only way to lock it again is to unlock the driver door and lock it again. There is no 'lock all doors' button.
Last but not least the car simply looks good.