Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: 2015 Mazda3 Speed

Photos by Ulysses Ang
The Mazda3—take a minute and just look at it. Now, wipe that drool off your face. This is the compact car that defied the norm, the one that actually shouted back and said: “The compact car market isn’t dead.” Where other brands began focusing on crossovers and SUVs, this one acted as the great foil. It connected with buyers and pundits alike and once again rekindled the love affair with the compact car. It’s been the single biggest success story for Mazda Philippines and the one that showed everyone that a great product backed up with aggressive pricing results in countless happy owners. But as cutting-edge and fully-featured as the Mazda3 is, buyers naturally wanted more. They wanted more style. They wanted even more features. In short, they wanted the definitive Mazda3. And here it is: the Mazda3 Speed.

At first, it seems like an interesting play of names: there’s a ‘Mazdaspeed 3’ out there, so understandably, some people got confused: is it the same thing? Although the Mazda3 will undoubtedly form the basis for the often rumored on-and-off again Mazdaspeed 3, the Mazda3 Speed serves as the top spec variant of the 2.0 R hatchback. It could also be a clever marketing move to subconsciously introduce the ‘Speed’ name, but perhaps that’s overthinking things. Already a stunner in every angle, Mazda sure had squeeze out every creative juice to make the Speed even more stunning. And boy, have they pushed the right buttons. The jet black 18-inch alloy wheels immediately draw your attention. Though the finish doesn’t look particularly durable (as evidenced by numerous paint peels near the lug nuts), it knocks your socks off. Then, you notice the subtle wrap-around body kit. It’s painted in high-gloss black with the side mirrors now echoing that finish. It adds just the right pinch of sportiness to an already sporty design. It doesn’t disrupt the Mazda3’s lines like what most body kits do and neither does it hamper ground clearance (thankfully).

Inside is where things take a less than subtle turn. Out goes the 2.0 R’s all-black leather seats and in its place come cream white leather seats. Yes, there are still some black pieces of leather, particularly in the bolstering, but for the most part you read that right: Cream. White. Leather. Seats. It sounds like Mazda took a page out of a 1970s pimp fashion manual, but they’re actually nicely executed. It actually gives this car a much more futuristic rather than retro feel. It certainly won’t look out of place as a star in The Minority Report. The use of white also sounds like bad news for those who cringe at the thought of scuffed seats, but they’re better wearing and tougher than they look. Yes, dirt (i.e. libag) will eventually transfer and discolor them, but soapy water or light leather cleaner is enough to take them off. This particular tester has done some 4,000 kilometers on the clock and the seats still look, objectively, fine.

Another hint to the Speed’s big change is found on the doors where the speaker grilles are embossed with the eponymous ‘Bose’ logo. As you guessed it, the Mazda3 Speed comes standard with a 9-speaker Bose sound system; the only compact car in the market to do so. It’s one hell-of-a-sound system and makes cranking up tunes a bliss with clear mid- and high-end sounds. The low-end is just as good, if only a bit strong. Bass levels have to be adjusted to a lower than usual setting to balance things out. Still, if you’re into bass-heavy tunes (electronica or dance music for instance), then this sound system will do your playlist justice.

Speakers and cream white seats aside, the rest of the cabin is shared with the standard Mazda3 2.0 R so pretty much the same adjectives apply: driver-centric, logical, understandable, and ergonomic. In a word, perfect. It’s one of the best driving environments of any car bar none. Where other cars, including so-called sports cars, confuse and conquer you with needless and gimmicky displays, the Mazda3 lays it down in a clear manner. Speed, engine revs, vehicle parameters—they’re all where you expect them to be. Of course, the flipside is that the rear seats could be bigger (fitting three would be a squeeze) and the shapely rear end doesn’t give that much luggage room, though the rear seats can be folded in a 60/40 split.

It’s the same story with the Speed’s driving dynamics. Mechanically, it’s a twin of the 2.0 R hatchback, so expect the same experience. It’s powered by the same rev-happy and throaty 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G 4-cylinder engine good for 155 horsepower and 200 Nm of torque. It still needs to be wrangled to get decent pace going but thankfully its paired to the same responsive 6-speed automatic. The transmission’s so good, the paddle shifters are almost unnecessary. It also comes with the same i-Stop and i-ELOOP system which boosts fuel efficiency to almost absurd levels: 9.70 km/L in heavy bumper-to-bumper Christmas traffic and 12.98 km/L when things lighten up. All in all, it means the Mazda3 can go beyond 400 kilometers between fill-ups—an amazing feat for a non-diesel or non-hybrid set-up. More than just its engine, the Speed is also mighty fun behind the wheel with a responsive suspension and quick steering. It also returns a surprisingly comfy ride despite the low-profile ties. In fact, it’s slightly more compliant over the rough stuff than the sedan. Like the sedan, however, road noise is prevalent at just about any speed.

This new variant of the Mazda3 certainly isn’t for the masses anymore: it commands a premium of P 100,000 over the 2.0 R hatchback (the SRP is effectively P 1,298,000). At first that additional cash doesn’t seem to get you far: body kit, blacked out trim, cream white seats, and Bose sound system. Dig deeper though and you’ll realize that the Bose sound system is more than worth it. Not only is it a great sound system, it can’t be installed as an aftermarket job. It’s been designed from the ground up especially for this car (they use different wiring harnesses for one). And that alone makes the Mazda3 Speed worthy of serious consideration; especially if you’re lusting after a Mazda3 hatchback in either Snowflake White or Soul Red (the Speed is only available in those colors). Certainly, Mazda Philippines has done a great job in making the complete compact car even more complete. It’s so good, that after spending time with one, every other compact will feel ordinary.

2015 Mazda3 Speed
Ownership 2015 Mazda3 Speed
Year Introduced 2014
Vehicle Classification Compact
The Basics
Body Type 5-door hatchback
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.0
Aspiration Normally Aspirated, Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders Inline-4
BHP @ rpm 155 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 200 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 6AT
Cruise Control No
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,460
Width (mm) 1,795
Height (mm) 1,450
Wheelbase (mm) 2,700
Curb Weight (kg) 1,310
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Dunlop Sport Maxx TT 215/45R18 W
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 4
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes
Exterior Features
Headlights HID
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electronic (driver)
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 8
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. aggressive pricing at 1.3M? maybe way too aggressive :-)

  2. instead of "look fast parts" i wish car companies would put "go fast" parts on their cars

  3. all show, no go... lame-o!!

    1. Bongo. It has the 2nd highest HP & joint-highest TQ of all the current 2.0L compact sedans & hatches. GTFO ignorant ricer. Plus you get the best real-world fuel economy compared to all of its competitors. This segment is owned by the Mz3, nothing else comes close.

    2. I got the mazda sp 25 gt with the kuroi pack here in Australia with 184hp. And they dont call itMazda speed. With more safety kit and the bose speakers too. Mazda ripping our country off. This is 3rd tier in 6 tiers over here.

  4. This car isn't slow. It's actually one of the fastest in the 2.0L compact segment. What's wrong with you people??

    1. Mga DOM fanboys yan ng Sylphy with the non-independent suspension or the ricer fanboys of the under-spec'ed & poor material quality Civic. Lolz.

    2. ee siguro ikaw member ng toyota fanclub bitter na bitter ka ee.

  5. I'm not a fanboy of any brand and will never be one.
    This car looks good, problem is the car rearward design that reduces interior room.
    This is sporty, not sports car. I think performance is good enough.
    Don't behave like childish persons, fanboys.

  6. Nakainom ata ung nagsabi na aggressive pricing neto eh..

  7. I have my mazda3 2.0R purchased last year 2014...all I can say its the best choice for a sedan considerring its competetors from Toyota, Honda & Hyundai. The upgrade for 2015 Mazda 3 speed are expected however I am not sure if it has the rear view Camera and GPS navigation Card inclusive...100K maybe Okay for the upgrade for Sound System (Bose), Car Seat Color and Body Kit but not Practical.

    1. The mazda 3 speed upgrades are unnecessary. The best pick would be the model which you bought.

    2. "Unnecessary"? What if you wanted a better audio system than the one on the stock Mz3? 100K more for a factory-installed Bose 9-speaker system is cheap, considering all the other things added to this variant. Compared that to the Mugen & Modulo variants of the Civic. Yun ang overpriced & unnecessary. Puro porma lang.

    3. Unnecessary meaning 80% of normal people won't spend an extra 100k for audio upgrades. Only hardcore audiophiles do that. Same logic applies to paying extra for body kits, only ricers do that.

      The stock audio system of the Mazda3 is good enough for most, making it unnecessary. Got that?

    4. given the kits included in the supposed speed version of the 3, the 100k is cheap.

      the car looks good with the kuroi kits on, and can't blame them if they opt for it, as the car looks better. to those hating on the additional bits for looks, do you even hate on people paying more for red, or toyota's white pearl? come on! beauty is in the eye of the beholder. let them be its their money.

      not only do you get the kuroi kits and black rims, but you get also an electric seat, dvd player, and bose system.

      purely objective its worth the added 100k

    5. Bobo, talaga yung nagsasabi "unnecessary". Eh hindi nga lang yung audio ang nadagdag for 100K eh, sinabi na nga sa taas eh. Sige add up all those bits and try to buy all of that aftermarket and see how much it would cost in total. Bagito ka pa sir if you think spending 100K for ONLY audio upgrades is expensive. Go to a custom car show for once and ask those exhibitors how much their mods cost. Baka ma-diarrhea ka once you know, you ignorant cheapskate.

  8. I just wish there is a Speed variant of the sedan as well. I like the sedan design more for this model; it has better aerodynamics than the hatch as well, better even than the 2-door RWD sports cars 86/BR-Z and Genesis Coupe.

  9. P1.3m and yet no cruise control? That's something missing in the tiller.

    1. Unfortunately, it doesn't have cruise control. That's probably the only thing missing. If you want cruise control, you have to go for the CX-5 and Mazda6. Wish it came with cruise control too.

    2. The CX-5 cruise control is really a great tool especially on long drives along open roads. This should have been standard on the 2.0 and optional on the 1.5.

    3. There are only 4 highways in Luzon where you can possibly use that cruise control, that won't be missed by most people getting this car. The bigger crime would be asking for 1.2M for the TOTL Altis 2.0L with only 2 airbags and no DSC/VSA & Traction control.

  10. Is there an MT variant or is it AT across the range?

    1. No M/T. The Mazda3 is only available as A/T across the entire range.

    2. Thanks for the reply, Ulysses.
      No M/T huh. That's a real shame. A deal breaker for me.

    3. Deal breaker din sakin yung no MT. I don't get why sa Mazda 2 lng meron MT. Traffic is not a very good reason for car enthusiats

  11. Cruise control is very useful specially if you know how to use it. A reverse camera is important as well. GPS map can be used via any mobile phone these days.

  12. Pls. help us we're planning to buy mazda 1.5 or 2.0 hatchback this wk pero nahihirapan kami kung ano pipiliin, after kami sa tipid sa gas at performance ng sasakyan esp sa matataas na lugar kahit na puno ang car

    1. Unless you are nota racer, then 1.5 is ok.
      I got 1.5 HB, performace is ok and fuel is 14 km/l.

    2. I'd rather get the 2.0. You get the same fuel efficiency in the city (if you don't turn off the i-Stop) plus you get much better pull when you hit the highway. Not to mention, you get a lot more stuff too!

  13. Hindi po ba sayarin ang mazda speed? Thanks

  14. wishing there would be Mazda3 Speed 5 or 6 m/t :(

    1. There are actually, but from what I've googled most are only available in the US especially the current ones. I don't know why there aren't m/t 3s here especially when Ph is nearer to Japan than the US and the Mazda 3 is "supposedly" made in Japan.

    2. What's with the quotation marks? Are you suggesting that Mazda3 units in the Philippines are not really CBU Japan?

  15. Is it true that the touchscreen does not work once the vehicle is in motion?

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  17. Might I ask what are the cars from Mazda that are M/T?? I'm not much of an A/T guy, in fact I down right hate A/Ts. I love the feel of driving manual. I love the feel of constantly stepping on the clutch pedal and changing gears.

    1. Taxi driver ka ba or never ka dumadaan sa EDSA or other traffic-clogged streets or masochist ka lang talaga? 2016 na boy, kahit Formula-1 paddle-shift transmissions na. Hindi na "macho" ang gumagamit ng manual ngayon, primitive na lang.

    2. I don't live in Manila. And I challenge you to say what you said to me in front of any porsche fan or those who love manuals. You can say it's "primitive" but for me and those who love manuals it's the best way to enjoy a car. And driving a manual is the best way to show how good someone is at driving. Taxis use manuals because they are cheap and easy to maintain. While people like me use manuals because it's FUN. I live in Bohol, automatics may be "convenient" but when using manuals especially in "very" inclined areas like hills and mountains which is prominent in my province, let's just say getting to the top of an inclined slope or the side of a hull about 20-10 degrees is one of the best feelings you can get. Try driving a manual in the rural areas before you diss me again. Driving in the Philippines isn't just solely about driving in Manila.

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  19. Hi Sir Uly. I'm planning to buy the Mazda3 Speed which I intend to keep for the long haul. Any issue on reliability for Mazdas? I used to own a Honda City and used it for four years without any major issue. I'm hoping that owning a Mazda will be of a similar experience.

    1. All Mazda vehicles come with a Yojin-3 free labor and parts PMS for the first three years. This on top of the usual 3-year bumper-to-bumper warranty. This makes owning a Mazda painless--although the Yojin-3 program is strict. Miss a check-up and your warranty is revoked.

      That said, from what I've been reading, these new generation Mazdas have been reliable. These are based off US or international consumer feedback though. Of course, picking the right dealer to send your Mazda is important. Or at least, that's what I hear.

  20. Thank you for the prompt reply Sir Uly.

  21. Hi Sir Uly, Any thoughts about Mazda 3 2.0 sedan skyactiv R and Mazda 3 skyavtiv V 1.5 sedan?
    Purpose: For Casual Driving for work to home basis.
    - is it fuel efficent?
    - worth it the price? ( P 1,205,000 for the M3 R and P 975,000 for M2) P 230,000 differnece
    - Any issues?

  22. Sir Uly pa Help may dual aircon naba yung Mazda 3 dito sa Pinas ???? kasi yung nakikita ko sa Youtube meron na dual aircon yung Mazda 3 Salamat po!

  23. planning to get the 2.0 HB variant over the new Civic 1.8. I fell in love with the Civic when I first saw it but as time goes by parang nagsasawa na ako sa looks (that's me). The Mazda SA said the new variant of Mazda3s will be shipped this September and it will have some new features on it. I just hope the unit price won't go way beyond its 1.2M price otherwise I'll opt to buy the Civic instead