I posted a review on this car when we purchased it two years ago, and because it has now made its way to the used car yard for our next purchase, I thought it was time to give a run down on ownership. The SP25 covered just under 20,000km in its time with us, so it did not have high mileage. By far the majority of this car's time was spent in the urban humdrum run where that stop-start system comes into its own... unless like me you quickly develop the habit of reaching for the system's off button straight after hitting the car's start one.
To be fair I gave it a run for a while (well a couple of days), but in a manual it only works when you take your foot off the clutch. So basically it only works very occasionally when you forget that it is on. It also does not work if the wind screen demister is on (which is another handy way of keeping the system off).
Which brings me to a summertime weak link in the Mazda3, or any Mazda of that era. The air conditioner temperature only goes down to 18 degrees, which sounds cold enough but I doubt it ever gets there. It never felt that cold anyway.
Mazdas have long been the subject of complaints about noise, but I have never found the BN version to be any louder than other similar hatches on the market. There will always be more noise in a hatch or wagon. The only time we really noticed it was on coarse chip roads.
Another item that has copped some criticism is the Mazda entertainment system. I have never missed the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as I found the Mazda system did what I needed. It reads your texts, and has predetermined replies. The voice commands worked well and the speaker quality is as expected for this model level. The only issue I had was that when making a call it always told me the call could not be placed, and then it would make the call anyway.
The reverse camera did stop working once, but a factory reset of the infotainment system restored it all, including my frustration for having to set everything up all over again. But that was the only system glitch in two years.
We bought this car because we had escaped the need for a family car and wanted something a bit more fun, and the SP25 fit that bill. The manual is a great gearbox and is easy to use in heavier traffic. The engine has plenty of pulling power, but a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated power plant is always going to be a bit heavy around the city. We regularly experienced 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres, but at times it got as high as the mid 9's.
The SP25 has been reliable and has fulfilled its duties as expected. The great exterior shape does compromise the boot space and rear headroom (and vision for rear seat occupants), but if you are like us and are using this car for two, none of that will be an issue to stop you from purchasing what is a great car for good money.
We purchased the car for $24,490 after some haggling and traded it for $18,000 (although trade in is only part of the story as we all know its the amount of hard earned cash that leaves your pocket that matters).
So overall we were very happy with ownership of a mid-spec car that performed as advertised, but could have had better fuel consumption. Other than that, and the fact that six months later they were offered with a 5 year warranty, we would not have changed anything.