The All-New 2014 Mazda 3 Revealed
The Mazda 3 was introduced in the 2004 model year, replacing the Mazda 323. It wasn't easy for the Mazda 3 to fill the 323's shoes, but it soon established itself as the company's best selling model and as one of the favorite small cars worldwide, thanks to it's neat styling, good dynamics and competitive pricing. The second generation Mazda 3 -- which was introduced in 2009, featured a new design, advanced technology and Mazda also managed to increase the model's value-for-money appeal. By 2012, Mazda 3 sales were on-par with Toyota's popular Corolla model, in several markets around the world.
The 2014 model brings even more refined styling, extra features and higher fuel efficiency, to ensure Mazda 3's prominent position in the compact-car market, for years to come. It goes on sale this fall and one of it's many appeals should be the fact that it offers something for everyone.
Most models are are available in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles. The new design features improved aerodynamics, and Mazda's engineers put more emphasis on the hood and engine compartment by setting the cabin further back, this time. The aggressive front grille and crisp edges make for a firm look, without the all-too-familiar cartoonish elements of the previous model.
The 2014 Mazda 3 has a wheelbase that is 2.5 inches longer than the previous model's. Shoulder-, as well as leg-room is increased both in the back and the front, with back-seat passengers enjoying additional comfort due to the higher seat-backs in the 2014 model.
Mazda 3 earlier model's noise level was pretty impressive in it's class, but the 2014 model has put significant effort into keeping even more "road buzz" out of the cabin. The engineering team behind the 3 series made even further improvements in the insulation and used noise-absorbing material behind the dashboard and under the floor mats. And while the Mazda 3 has a generally good amount of feedback through the suspension, that doesn't have a noticeable impact on noise levels inside the cabin.
The redesigned cockpit it very driver-focused, with manual controls carefully arranged around the driver's centerline. Spending less time adjusting knobs and tapping screens, gives more time to the driver to engage in the actual act of driving.
The new 2014 Mazda 3 also comes with a SkyActiv four-cylinder, direct-injection engine and six-speed automatic transmission, which delivers better performance than the conventional 2.0L models, while maintaining higher level of efficiency and reduced emissions. The car maker offers two types of engines for this model-- both available with a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox, but while the 2.0L version is rated at 155 HP, the top-of-the-line 2.5L delivers 184 horsepowers and 185 lbs of torque. The good news is that even the automatic gearbox is well-tuned for driving enthusiasts.
The 2014 model uses more high-strength steel than the earlier versions. It is lighter than conventional steel, which helps saving weight, while providing a stronger and more durable structure, due to the higher strength level.
The base model comes with standard 16-inch steel wheels, while the larger 18 and 19 in. alloy wheels are available at extra price.
Even though the Radar Cruise Control is only part of the package in some of the pricier models, Mazda's decision to equip all of it's 3 models with six airbags, stability-and-traction control and four-wheel disc brakes, is largely responsible for gaining a five-star safety rating from NCAP -- Europe's independent crash-test agency.
Mazda 3's new safety system is called the i-ActivSense, and it includes cruise control, a blind-spot monitor, lane departure warning, a forward-obstruction warning system and automatically adjustable headlights.
The Smart City Brake Support feature monitors the closing distance and will pre-tension the brakes, while alerting the driver, if the collision appears imminent. SCBS works at speeds up to 19 mph and if the driver fails to respond in time, the system will bring the car to a complete stop.
Mazda 3's lively personality makes it feel like a little sports car, in a way, and it also proves that affordable cars can also provide enjoyable driving experience and even get an impressive 40 miles-per-gallon from an engine that's not even a hybrid. One of the features that contributes to the Mazda 3's excellent fuel economy is the i-ELOOP system. It uses a clutched alternator, so the battery only gets recharged on engine overrun. It's capacitor gathers energy, generated while braking or decelerating and it powers some of the car's electrical components, such as the AC and the sound system.
Also, the new 2014 Mazda 3's shutters in front of the front grille will close automatically under in certain conditions, reducing aerodynamic drag and further improve fuel economy.
Rather than projecting information on the windshield, Mazda decided to introduce the Active Driving Display, a noteworthy feature on Mazda 3's 2014 model. It's clear panel pops up from behind a cluster of instruments as soon as the car turns on. It shows the speed, directions and critical information and it folds out of the way, once the car is turned off. The instrument cluster itself has an oversized analogue gauge, with a digital display on each side. Having an Active Driving Display instead of the increasingly popular windshield display, also reduces the car's repair cost, in case the windshield gets damaged.
Mazda 3's premium infotainment option includes a Bose audio system with Centerpoint virtual surround sound. Users can search among folders and find tracks using voice control and the system connects to the user's smartphone via Bluetooth, if needed. Harman's Aha system handles the internet apps, and the test-to-voice technology enables the system to read e-mail and text-messages out loud, through the car's audio system. It is also capable of displaying short messages on the touchscreen monitor and to read updates from Twitter or Facebook.
Mazda 3 has always been known for great handling and the newest model is no exception. Mazda's electric power steering has a reputation of providing well-tuned feedback and Mazda 3's stopping distances are some of the best in the "compact-car arena". Stability, cornering capacity and riding comfort have also been improved in Mazda 3's 2014 model.
The small and the compact-car segment is full of great cars these days and some of them may provide you with better comfort or quieter ride but over all, the Mazda 3 2014 is bound to be a real winner among enthusiasts.