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2014 Mazda3 S GT Long-Term Update 5

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 3/5/2015 Brian Vance

A friend of mine owns a similar 2014 Mazda3 S (a gray five-door with the 2.5L) to our long-termer, and he asked me if he made a mistake by not ordering his 2.5L with the i-ELOOP? I hesitated for a moment because I wasn't completely sure if our car had that option. In fact, I debated with him that perhaps this white Mazda3 didn't come equipped with i-ELOOP. He assured me it did, and to confirm he told me to find the animated graphic inside the apps menu of the touchscreen display. Sure enough, it was there, and that evening I drove home while monitoring the on and off function of the i-ELOOP system.

What is i-ELOOP? It's Mazda's name for the brake energy regeneration system that can capture deceleration energy, store it in a capacitor, and use it later to power the car's electrical loads -- things like the headlamps, air conditioning, or the audio system.

The i-ELOOP animated display graphic is accessed through the Mazda Connect infotainment system.© Provided by MotorTrend The i-ELOOP animated display graphic is accessed through the Mazda Connect infotainment system. My friend asked because he had been reading plenty of online comments from those who opted for the $2,600 tech package that includes i-ELOOP. They suggested it might not be worth the hefty extra cost. Mazda3 buyers springing for this tech are partly doing so because Mazda says the system can boost real-world fuel economy by around 5 percent when you're running lots of electrical loads, and the EPA rates Mazda3s with i-ELOOP 1 mpg higher than those without.

I like that Mazda offers this new tech in its compact car, and even more, it's impressive that this tech does its magic undetectably, not getting in the way of Mazda's responsive powertrain. But it's also strange that Mazda doesn't make the system more visible to the driver. Rather, it's buried deep in the Mazda Connect screen and goes unnoticed most of the time.

So is it worth it? Well, it boils down to this: In order to get the i-ELOOP, you have to opt for the technology package. This also includes nifty equipment such as grille shutters (mpg enhancer), high beam control (auto dims the brights), lane departure warning, and radar cruise control. All of which enhance the overall ownership enjoyment of the Mazda3. Therefore, if you consider i-ELOOP an added bonus, it all equates to a worthwhile package, one with tangible value. Unfortunately, Mazda only offers it when you buy the priciest S Grand Touring model.

More on our long-term 2014 Mazda3 S GT:

Mazda's key fob is small and thin, and doesn't feel bulky in a front pants pocket.© Provided by MotorTrend Mazda's key fob is small and thin, and doesn't feel bulky in a front pants pocket.

2014 Mazda3 S GT Hatchback© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Mazda3 S GT Hatchback
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