MAZDA3 SP25

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Head To Head -

VALUE

It’s cheaper than the SSS yet matches the Nissan’s stan­dard sat­nav, cli­mate con­trol, re­vers­ing cam­era and rear park­ing sen­sors. It misses out on leather trim and xenon head­lights. Mazda plays the same game on capped price ser­vic­ing, with ser­vice ev­ery 12 months/ 10,000km — three years cost $924 but if you drive the av­er­age, you’ll need a fourth ser­vice for $326, plus flu­ids and fil­ters at $126.

DE­SIGN

The SP25 styling is sub­tle, with Mazda opt­ing against even a badge on the latest model. There are a spoiler and al­loy wheels, while fog lamps lift the look above the stan­dard Neo. The in­te­rior doesn’t dif­fer much from cheaper mod­els but feels sportier, with bet­ter in­stru­men­ta­tion and more sup­port­ive seats.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The SP25 goes for a big­ger en­gine rather than the Nissan’s turbo boost. The 2.5-litre four-cylin­der puts out 2kW less than the SSS but has a lit­tle more torque. By the seat of the pants, the Nissan feels a lit­tle live­lier off the mark but the Mazda is no slouch. It turns the ta­bles on fuel ef­fi­ciency, us­ing just 6.0L/100km on the of­fi­cial cy­cle — 22 per cent less.

SAFETY

The Mazda trumps the Nissan with a crash score of 36.40 out of 37 points. It gets six airbags and has seat belt re­minders for the rear seats. It also has a $1500 safety pack that gives you blind spot mon­i­tor­ing, rear cross traf­fic alert and au­to­matic low-speed brak­ing.

DRIV­ING

The SSS has more power than poise — the Mazda feels the op­po­site. The well tied-down sus­pen­sion and sharp, pre­cise steer­ing cre­ate the im­pres­sion that it could han­dle more power. The ride is fir­mish but not un­com­fort­able in city driv­ing, while on the open road the SP25 is an en­gag­ing and re­ward­ing drive.

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