2014 Mazda 3 GX 5 door 2.0 SKYACTIV-G from North America
I wanted to like you, Mazda, but you left me no choice... Off to Honda I will go!
- Locks squeak.
Save yourself the time and buy a Honda, here's why:
Background Information and Gripes:
After my Jeep Grand Cherokee died in March of 2014, I was in the market for a new car, a compact hatchback to be precise. Naturally, I looked at the latest model available, a 2014 Mazda 3. Being a student, I didn't have much to spend. As such I leased a basic GX model. I know many people say 'you get what you pay for', but the standard equipment on my particular car was pitiful. Firstly, the car lacks a tachometer and a trip computer, two features that should be standard in this day and age. Secondly, the climate controls look like they have been taken from an early 2000s Ford Focus. Thirdly, the steering wheel (and other touch-points) are made of hard plastic, making it feel as if you were driving your child's Fisher Price pedal car.
Having occasionally driven a 2007 Honda Civic coupe (also a base model), I must say that the fit and finish is much better. Everything from the adjustable center arm rest to the cloth covered areas where one rests his or her elbow make the Civic a better car overall. The largest disappointment however, comes in the form of the seats. The GX model has rock hard cushions, which feel as though they were made of steel; why Mazda doesn't use the same fabric across the entire '3' range I'll never know.
Mechanical Information and Performance:
At the time of its release, the third generation Mazda 3 was considered by many to have revolutionized performance in the compact segment. However, in my eyes, the 'SKYACTIV' engine, although torquey, is underwhelming. The engine has a horrendous note, similar to that of a Chrysler 4 cylinder, although having significantly more torque, it still pales in comparison to Honda's I-VTEC units. If there is one redeeming factor to the car's powertrain it lies in its automatic transmission. The unit delivers crisp shifts, holds gears, and is by far the best automatic I have ever driven.
Like the transmission on this car, both the chassis and suspension are excellent. The steering loads up well in the corners and gets heavier as the car's speed increases. The suspension is taut and provides a reassuring feel on twisty roads, easily out-handling the aforementioned Honda.
Until the new Civic hatchback hits the showroom floor sometime next year, the Mazda is one of the most usable cars in its segment. The trunk is large enough for a week's worth of groceries, and with the seats folded, has fit an entire dorm room worth of cargo, chairs and table included. This car can easily fit enough gear for three people and take them on a road trip, provided they can stand the lack of leg room in the back.
Fuel economy and maintenance costs:
As you might expect, the fuel economy is rather excellent. I have been able to drive for a week on one tank of gas (my commute is roughly 50 kilometers per day).
As this is a leased car, I am forced to have the car serviced at the dealership. Oil changes are ridiculously expensive as the vehicle takes 0W-20 synthetic totaling around 100$ for a change. The 50,000 kilometer service totaled about 350$. If you are planning on buying the car, either do the oil changes yourself or find a lube shop to save some money.
Overall, I have had a love-hate relationship with this car. I really wanted to like it, however the lack of standard features and an unrefined engine make the Civic a better option. Is it a good car? Yes. Would I buy it out and keep it for 8 more years? Absolutely not. Look elsewhere if you don't want to get fleeced or feel disappointed.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 4th May, 2016
6th May 2016, 02:08
Good review. But before you run out and get the brand new model 2016 Honda Civic... make sure the reviews and reliability are good in this newly designed, brand new 2016 model.
6th May 2016, 20:11
Thanks! I don't intend to buy a replacement car for another three years at least. At that point the current generation of the Civic will have gone through a refresh and the kinks will hopefully be sorted out!
7th May 2016, 10:12
We have a Honda Civic EX, and a Mazda 3 Touring, which far exceeds the Honda. Both are loaded. The Mazda has far more amenities. The ride is far superior in the Mazda 3 Touring Package. No doubt due to the tire size vs the Sport. Both are good cars, but the Mazda has far more luxury. We took a 900 mile trip to Florida, barely stopping and switching drivers. It was a very comfortable trip. The car cruised at 70 legally over to Orlando. A really nice little car with a bigger sedan feel and ride.
4th Mar 2017, 12:29
No tachometer? Really? I thought all the series 3 Mazda 3s had them even if they are very small on the left side of the speedo...
1st May 2017, 15:02
Another thing to mention is how little leg room all Mazda have for drivers. Forget these cars if you are near 6ft tall, it simply doesn't have feet room at the pedals. I've also tried the Mazda 6 and it was cramped, the CX5 was also cramped! I drive at my job a Civic and a Sentra and both have OK leg room for my 6ft; not perfect but acceptable. Mazda is made for tiny drivers.
14th May 2017, 05:38
The early GX base models didn't have one here in Canada.
14th May 2017, 05:40
Yeah, I'm 5-10 and find the armrests short; definitely annoying!
14th May 2017, 14:12
I set my folded jacket on the armrest and was fine. 6'1 tall.
23rd May 2017, 18:51
I meant the armrest on the door... not much you can do about that!