You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

2014 Mazda3 S GT Long-Term Verdict

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/21/2015 Brian Vance, Motor Trend Staff

The show is over for this sharply shaped white wagon, and by no means am I pleased to see it leave the fleet. Los Angeles is a huge city full of dense roads and parking lots, but the compact Mazda3 is a proper urban car, one that can wiggle and squeeze down the tightest roads and into the slimmest of parking spots. Couple that with the abundant technology, good build quality, and solid handling, and it's clear that Mazda has learned to appeal to the masses without giving up its trademark sportiness.

Perhaps a casual passerby would glance at the Mazda3 and assume it's just a garden-variety, economical Japanese hatchback. They'd be wrong. This wagon is packed with tons of tech-heavy options, some not yet found in other cars of this price and size. We optioned this car with lane-departure monitoring, city braking, blind-spot and forward obstruction warning, adaptive cruise, keyless entry and start, head-up display, adaptive (swiveling) headlights, text message interface, a rearview camera, brake energy regeneration, and automatic high beam control.

The '3's 2.5-liter four-cylinder is an eager and responsive powerplant, and when coupled with the six-speed automatic, it revs and pulls admirably. And even more appealing is the extra detent in the gas pedal. This feature, more commonly found in German cars, allows you to press even farther down on the pedal, provoking a downshift or more revs from the engine in the gear that's already engaged. That extra grunt is useful when passing on the freeway or during an aggressive traffic merge.

2014 Mazda3 S GT Hatchback© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Mazda3 S GT Hatchback Regardless of the deluge of standard and optional parts, most important was that the Mazda3 exhibited great steering, braking, and handling in the same cohesive way that its predecessors did. Those attributes make up a special recipe that has yet to be decoded by most of the '3's competitors. Mazda benchmarked its own last-gen Miata when developing the electric-assist steering in this car, and the result is proper line-holding, great response with accomplished turn-in, and appropriate weight and feedback. All of which prompted our testing director, Kim Reynolds, to say, "This car is more poised than it needs to be. It's quick, nimble, and agile, and sets a benchmark for sportiness in the compact-car segment." All of it adds an extra dollop of driving dynamics to daily across-town jaunts and errand runs. Supplementing the great steering are supportive, well-bolstered seats. They keep the driver and front seat passenger planted during high-g maneuvers.

And yes, it's understood that lots of Mazda3 owners won't know or appreciate how well-tuned their steering system is. Yet for those who have a taste for proper turn-in, the '3's steering ability is reason alone for choosing it over similarly sized hatches or sedans from Volkswagen, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Ford, or Subaru.

2014 Mazda3 S GT Hatchback© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Mazda3 S GT Hatchback Day in and day out, the well-appointed interior is one of the great joys of driving this '3. The seats are wrapped in high-quality leather sewn together with red stitching, and the dash is covered in high-quality soft-touch material. Even the plastics on the shifter and switchgear have a premium quality to them. Plus, conveniences such as keyless remote entry, quick and easy Bluetooth pairing and re-pairing, head-up driver display, and radar-assist cruise control are constant reminders that the '3 is a unique machine in the segment.

More often than not, I took advantage of the '3's convenient hatchback cargo area and folding rear seats. The area easily swallows up skis, beach gear, gardening supplies, and with some careful maneuvering a bicycle with its front wheel removed. An errand to the rug shop even allowed me to fit a rolled-up 5-foot-by-8-foot rug into the back.

2014 Mazda3 S GT Hatchback© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Mazda3 S GT Hatchback Shortcomings of the Mazda3? Only a few. The back seat is tight by just about any standard, fine for children and teens, but if you're an adult, you're likely better off taking an Uber. The fuel tank is relatively small (13.2 gallons), and although the '3 gets good mileage (I observed almost 30 mpg), fill-ups are still frequent due to the small tank. Also, road noise can be bothersome at highway speeds. Lastly, for those who like shifting their own gears (me), a manual transmission was not available with the 2.5-liter for the '14 model year. Luckily, Mazda has remedied that limitation and now offers the six-speed stick with the bigger engine for 2015, therein further proving that Mazda is committed to offering the most entertaining car in the segment.

On a weekend trip out of town, the MazdaConnect infotainment system failed, rendering the audio, nav, and USB ports useless. This occurred before the odometer had hit 5,000 miles. A fix meant a visit to the dealer for a software upgrade. A quick Googling of the problem revealed that such an occurrence is not uncommon for 2014 '3s with MazdaConnect.

Mazda has all but perfected the ideal mix of components and tuning to craft a gratifying compact car. In fact, the '3 has a distinct premium feel to it, one that raises the car's perceived value and is good enough to make you think twice before paying a premium to get into something like an Audi A3 or a Lexus CT.

More on our long-term 2014 Mazda3 S GT:


Our Car
SERVICE LIFE13 mo / 21,726 mi
BASE PRICE$27,290
OPTIONSTechnology Package ($2,600: i-ELOOP regenerative braking, active grille shutters, adaptive cruise control), Snowflake White Pearl paint ($200), door sill trim plates ($125), cargo mat ($70)
PRICE AS TESTED$30,285
AVG ECON/CO229.9 mpg / 0.65 lb/mi
PROBLEM AREASInfotainment system outage
MAINTENANCE COST$162.55 (2-oil change, tire rotation, inspection)
NORMAL-WEAR COST$0
3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE*$16,657
RECALLSAlternator belt
*Automotive Lease Guide data

2014 Mazda3 S GT Long-Term Verdict


2014 Mazda 3 S Grand Touring
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUTFront-engine, FWD
ENGINE TYPEI-4, aluminum block/head
VALVETRAINDOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT151.8 cu in/2,488cc
COMPRESSION RATIO13.0:1
POWER (SAE NET)184 hp @ 5,700 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET)185 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm
REDLINE6,500 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER16.7 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION6-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO3.39:1/2.03:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REARStruts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO14.0:1
TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK2.6
BRAKES, F;R11.6-in vented disc; 10.4-in disc, ABS
WHEELS, F;R7.0 x 18-in, cast aluminum
TIRES, F;R215/45R18 89W M+S Dunlop SP Sport 5000
DIMENSIONS
WHEELBASE106.3 in
TRACK, F/R61.2/61.4 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT175.6 x 70.7 x 57.3 in
TURNING CIRCLE37.1 ft
CURB WEIGHT3,080 lb
WEIGHT DIST., F/R61/39%
SEATING CAPACITY5
HEADROOM, F/R37.6/37.5 in
LEGROOM, F/R42.2/35.8 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R57.2/54.4 in
CARGO VOLUME BEH F/R47.1/20.2 cu ft
TEST DATA
ACCELERATION TO MPH
0-30 2.4 sec
0-403.8
0-505.4
0-607.3
0-709.6
0-8012.4
0-9015.6
PASSING, 45-65 MPH3.7
QUARTER MILE15.6 sec @ 90.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH117 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.83 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT27.0 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH1,700 rpm
CONSUMER INFO
STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROLYes/yes
AIRBAGSDual front, front side, f/r curtain
BASIC WARRANTY3 yrs/36,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY5 yrs/60,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE3 yrs/36,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY13.2 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON28/38/32 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY120/89 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB0.61 lb/mile
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB25.6/35.0/29.1 mpg
RECOMMENDED FUELUnleaded regular

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

More from Motor Trend

Loading...

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon