Totaling some thirteen pages of small print (so small even young Tweeters might not read it…), Mazda’s ‘specification deck’ for the all-new 2014 Mazda3 befits the ‘all-new’ descriptive. And if the changes to an all-new volume model don’t – at least slightly – overwhelm, take a look at the lineup: six distinct trim levels for the 4-door, plus five for the 5-door. After a quick scan we feel wholly inadequate to quickly absorb the specs, but in the absence of a long-lead drive what’s a journo to do?
While Mazda’s engineering and design team have been crafting their best impression of a Euro sport sedan and hatch, the marketing team apparently has been doing their best impression of GM. But rather than starting at Chevy and ending with Caddy, the Irvine-based marketeers (Irvine is virtually next door to Anaheim) start with a Mazda3i SV 4-door and progressively walk you up the ladder (and payments) to the Mazda3s Grand Touring 5-door. Of course, Mazda isn’t the first OEM to take you by the wallet in a progressive stair step of long-term indebtedness (see Porsche and BMW for the very best examples), but it would seem the folks from Hiroshima are catching on fast.
Easiest to grasp is the difference between ‘i’ and ‘s’. The ‘i’ boasts a 2.0 liter SkyActiv DOHC four boasting 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. The numbers aren’t bad, of course, and can feel responsive when mated to Mazda’s 6-speed manual. Opt for the essence of ‘s’ and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to Heaven. The 2.5 liter enjoys a gain of 29 horsepower (to 184) and 185 lb-ft of torque. This blessed beast is still capable of 39 miles per gallon on the EPA’s highway loop, but is not available – ALAS – with a manual tranny. For that – and we’re guessing here – performance enthusiasts will need to wait for a MazdaSpeed variant.
Both 4-door and hatch occupy the same 106.3-inch wheelbase, while the 4-door stretches to just over fifteen feet; the 5-door comes in only 4.7 inches shorter, at 175.6. And while passenger volume is almost identical, cargo volume swells from 12.4 cubic feet in the sedan to over twenty cubes in the 5-door; the hatch’s child-bearing hips have been put to good use.
Also of note is the slight difference in weight distribution between the 2.0 liter and 2.5 with automatic. Opt for the smaller engine/manual combo and you have 59% of the weight on the front wheels, while the bigger engine/autobox puts 61% on the front end. And while early reports suggest communicative steering and a balanced platform, we’re still inclined to buy a big bag of sand to get that ratio a bit closer to 50/50. Or buy Subaru’s BRZ…
Mazda’s Mazda3 5-door began production in June, while the 4-door commences in July. As we know more you’ll know more, but in the interim…Where (again) are the bifocals?