- Completely redesigned for 2014, no more smiling grille
- Two powertrain options; up to 40 mpg/highway
- Upgraded interior materials; four- and five-door versions offered
Mazda’s reputation for fun is well known, but the redesigned 2014 Mazda3, the Japanese automakers looks to inject serious value, fuel economy, and interior upgrades to give the compact car a leg up in a very crowded segment.
When you’re competing against established names like Civic and Corolla, if you want to supplant them it’s not enough to be just as good – you have to be better. We will see if the Mazda3 can bridge the gap, but looking at it from the outside it’s hard not to feel promising. Gone is the old smiling front grille, Mazda has applied its new “kodo” design language (seen on the CX-5 compact crossover) which includes a more aggressive, shield grille and plenty of athletic lines that swoop and connect up and down the sides of the Mazda3. Just like previous versions of the Mazda3, the new one will be offered in both sedan (four-door) and hatchback (five-door) guises. To us, the Mazda3 is the best looking compact car on the market, but whether or not you agree is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.
Under the hood, the 2014 Mazda3 will offer two engine options, both four-cylinders. The base engine is a 155-hp, SkyActiv 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 150 pounds-feet of torque and is mated to a six-speed manual or automatic. The second engine is shared with the Mazda6 and the CX-5, a 184-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 185 pounds-feet of torque with the same transmission options. 2014 also marks the first year for the Mazda3 to feature a fully electric steering rack, which helps efficiency slightly. Also aiding efficiency is a new i-Eloop regenerative braking system which comes along with the 2.5-liter engine and adds a few mpg, bumping fuel economy from 28/37 mpg city/highway to 29/39 mpg. The best fuel economy ratings come with automatic models with the base engine: 30/40 mpg city/highway, which puts the Mazda3 among the segment leaders.
The interior of the 2014 Mazda3 gets changes equal to the exterior. While the outgoing car was starting to look dated in terms of materials and design, the new car features upgraded surfaces, better fit and finish, and added technology. The star is a new, optional 7-inch touchscreen that sits high atop the dash. It is controlled by a small knob controller found between the front seats, flanked by several shortcut buttons in a setup reminiscent of those found in many luxury cars. The screen controls audio, navigation (if equipped), and other telematics functions. Standard features include push button start and remote keyless entry, USB port, power windows and locks, and air conditioning. Also available are HD radio, Bluetooth connectivity, leather or leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and a Bose stereo.
The 2014 Mazda3 also gets an upgrade in available safety technology, adding blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alerts, smart city brake support, lane departure warning, and adaptive front lighting. Six airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, and traction control are standard.