Mark Higgins’ 2015 Mazda3 SP25 Astina review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.

In a nutshell: Since bursting onto the market in 2003, the Mazda3 has made quite an impression. With more than 3.9 million sales in over 120 countries, it accounts for a third of the marque’s sales. It’s been the biggest selling passenger car here on several occasions, thanks to its sharp pricing, premium feel, pleasing appearance in both hatch and sedan form, and driveline options.


THE THIRD-GENERATION Mazda3 looks bigger and more prestigious than its predecessor thanks in part to the design language but also because the A-pillars have been moved back by 100mm. It’s also 40mm wider (1795 Vs 1755mm) stands 15mm lower (1455 Vs 1470mm), and has a longer wheelbase (2700-2640mm) and shorter overhangs front and back.

Inside, the Mazda3 SP25 Astina gets silver highlights and black gloss paneling which complement the contrast red-stitched black leather seats (with heating function). The ‘sports’ seats have pronounced side bolsters, good under thigh support and six-way power adjustment ensuring it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. The black leather and contrast red stitching treatment extends to the multi-function, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, gearshift knob and surround.

2015 Mazda3 SP25 Astina review

This Astina gets a heads-up display that when I set the seat and steering wheel to suit my driving position was blocked by the top of the steering wheel. The analogue gauges, housed in a traditional binnacle also feature a digital trip meter and vehicle information display.

Like all Mazda3s, the mid-dash features a seven-inch infotainment touch screen for the MZD Connect infotainment system which includes phone, internet – including social media platforms, Stitcher, Aha and Pandora, vehicle maintenance, sat nav, fuel economy and trip history information, all mated to the excellent nine-speaker 231-watt BOSE audio.

2015 Mazda3 SP25 Astina review

What’s odd is that while the wheelbase has grown, rear legroom has shrunk by 10mm to 909mm, (the 10mm lost from the back has been added to the front). This means that rear seat legroom is acceptable but not great. Although the boot is a decent 408-litres, the boot opening is rather small, and space inside is robbed thanks to intrusive J hinges. The fold down ISOFIX equipped 60:40 split rear seat, allows you to carry larger narrow items.

Mazda says it has improved the NVH levels of the third-generation Mazda 3, and across most surfaces we’d agree with it, but across coarse surfaces, to my ear at least, the car is noisier than some of its peers. But don’t misread that, because 99.9% of the time the Mazda3 is virtually whisper quiet.

Mazda makes a big deal of its Jinba Ittai philosophy which loosely translates to ‘horse and rider as one’, suggesting, helped in no small part by its zoom-zoom tag line, that its products are sportier and more involving than their segment competitors. And the Mazda3 doesn’t disappoint, and while the ride is firm there’s enough give to keep it composed across poorer surfaces.

2015 Mazda3 SP25 Astina review

The steering offers good straight-line stability with enough feel to keep enthusiastic drivers happy (as is typical with electric system weight builds with speed), while its low-speed lightness makes parking a doddle. The brakes offer good feel through the pedal with a nice consistent action.

Under the bonnet of the Mazda3 SP25 Astina is the most powerful petrol engine in the Mazda3 range, which is a 2.5-litre in-line four-cylinder (SKYACTIV-G) engine with standard start/stop (i-stop in Mazda-speak). It produces 138kW at 5700rpm and 250Nm at 3250rpm and returns 6.0 L/100km. In our hands, we averaged 6.9L/100km over more than 200km of driving. Mated to this engine, as standard, is a six-speed manual transmission that offers a light but positive throw. Initial acceleration is good but it’s the strong mid-range that really impresses with peak torque arriving at a diesel-esque 3250rpm.

2015 Mazda3 SP25 Astina review

Building on the Neo, Maxx and SP25 specifications the SP25 Astina standard equipment highlights includes, heads-up display, bi-xenon headlights with Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), LED daytime running lamps, sunroof, radar cruise control, high-beam control that automatically adjusts between low and high headlight beams, heated power mirrors and windows, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, keyless push-button start, MZD Connect touch screen, sat nav, reversing camera and 18-inch alloy wheels

The Mazda3 range receives a five-star ANCAP rating, with active and passive safety systems including ABS brakes, stability control, electronic brake assist and brakeforce distribution, emergency stop signal, hill launch assist, traction control, and six airbags. Beyond this, the SP25 Astina 2.5 L receives, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, smart brake support, smart city brake support that helps prevent or soften impact with the vehicle ahead when travelling at slower speeds, blind-spot monitoring (BSM) and forward obstruction warning.

The Mazda3 SP25 Astina has a three-year, 100,000 kilometre warranty. Roadside assist is an extra $68 per year. Service intervals are every 10,000kms with the first service costing $299 and the second $326. Every service the price alternates between the two amounts.

Mazda3 SP25 Astina

Price $36,390 (+ORC) as tested; Engine 2.5 litre fuel injected four-cylinder petrol; Power/Torque 138kW/250Nm
; Transmission six speed manual – (standard); Body 4580mm (L); 1795mm (W); 1455mm (H)
; Luggage Capacity 408 litres; Weight 1342 kg; Thirst 6.0L/100km (combined)


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