New blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning systems
Available head-up display
Revising a winning formula is risky business, but that's exactly what Mazda has done with what the company says is its best-selling model. For 2014, the Mazda 3 arrives with fresh styling inside and out, several highly desirable safety features, purportedly improved comfort, and a generous assortment of new interior technologies.
As this preview is written, Mazda has not released complete details about the redesigned 2014 Mazda 3, but the company has announced that 4-door sedan and 5-door hatchback body styles will continue to be offered. Compared with the 2013 model, the new Mazda 3 has a wheelbase that's 2.4 inches longer, and the new car offers more shoulder and hip room.
In addition to its new dimensions, the 2014 Mazda 3 sports a familial front-end style accented by swept-back headlights, an aggressively sculpted and sloped hood that feeds into a U-shaped black grille, exaggerated fender flares, and wedge-like taillights.
Entry-level versions of the Mazda 3 will feature 16-inch steel wheels, while higher trim levels will be equipped with 16- or 18-inch alloy wheels. Two new exterior paint colors also debut for 2014: Titanium Flash Mica and Deep Crystal Blue Mica.
The 2014 Mazda 3's redesign is obvious inside the car, where windshield pillars and outside mirrors have been moved to improve outward visibility, front seatbacks have been reshaped to offer extra rear-seat leg room, and the driver's seat has been re-engineered to provide greater comfort. Available upholstery includes cloth, leatherette, and leather.
Those changes and features are complemented by a revised gauge cluster, infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity and USB port, satellite radio service, text message functionality, central touch-screen display, and the ability to read and respond to social media posts.
Among the 2014 Mazda 3's optional extras is a smartphone-linked Internet radio feature, as well as a Bose surround-sound audio system. A navigation system is also available, with data coming from an SD card instead of the more commonly used DVD.
Under the Hood
Mazda is offering the 2014 Mazda 3 with one of two engines: a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that delivers 155 horsepower and 150 lb.-ft. of torque, or a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that generates 184 horsepower and 185 lb.-ft. of torque. Output is directed to the front wheels via a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.
Mazda's SkyActiv technology, including elements such as a high compression ratio and direct injection, works to improve fuel efficiency, as do an available regenerative braking system, electric power steering, and active grille shutters that contribute to what the company claims are best-in-class aerodynamics. As this preview is written, the EPA has not established official fuel-economy estimates for the 2014 Mazda 3.
In terms of handling, Mazda claims the redesigned 3 will impress drivers with its retuned suspension and improved brake response.
Among the 2014 Mazda 3's standard safety features are 6 air bags, front active head restraints, 4-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, traction control, daytime running lights, and increased use of high-strength steel in the body. The 2014 model also ushers in a suite of new safety-related technologies, including automatic high-beam headlights, blind-spot monitoring system, lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems, intelligent cruise control, and brake support (readies the brakes when sensors determine a front-end collision is likely).
As this preview is written, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has rated the crashworthiness of the 2014 Mazda 3.
One of the 2014 Mazda 3's most interesting new features is what Mazda has labeled an active driving display. This is essentially a head-up display, putting current speed and other pertinent information just below the driver's direct line of sight. However, unlike most systems, which actually project an image directly onto the windshield, Mazda's system uses a clear pop-up panel located atop the gauge cluster. The panel lowers into its recessed position when the engine is turned off.