Dec 8, 2008

Mazda3 2.5-litre

JEZ SPINKS cruises the streets of California in the yet-to-be released, next-generation Mazda3.

Price: Price $32,000 (est)

Why we're driving it: It's not on sale until next year but we sampled the next-generation Mazda3 sedan at its launch in California.
Likes: Exterior styling looks sharper, although the gaping grille is polarising. Superb steering offers accuracy and feel. Mazda engineers have improved the handling while maintaining a supple ride. Noise refinement has been improved. The 2.5-litre four-cylinder and five-speed auto are an effective combination. Smarter-looking cabin features higher-quality materials and an improved layout.

Dislikes: Mazda3 sedan is bigger but carry-over wheelbase means no extra cabin space. US-spec Mazda3 2.5 has features and options that may not be available in Australia. A fuel-efficient, direct-injection 2.0-litre engine is available in Europe but is unlikely to reach local showrooms.