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Mazda 3 SP23 'Leather Pack' (copyright image)


Mazda 3 SP23 'Leather Pack'

by Stephen Walker

23rd December, 2005

Home > Road Tests > Mazda

Mazda is 'alive' with new products!

Looking at recent years, we've seen Mazda introduce the RX-8, the 2, the 6 with variants and the new MX-5. And in between these new releases, along came the 3 which replaced the ageing 323.

Surprise, surprise, all these new models have shown what happens in the market place when new products are on offer. The buying public reward the manufacturer, which sends a very clear message. And that message is that the shoppers want fresh, new products. The car buyers of today do not the cars of yesteryear. The sales revival of Mazda proves it, just as it does over at Audi, Suzuki and Volkswagen for example. It shows signs of doing the same at Mitsubishi.

Mazda 3 SP23 'Leather Pack' (copyright image)

Next Car's Editor, Stephen Walker,
with the Mazda 3 SP23 'Leather Pack'

On that basis, let us look at the newest of the Mazda 3 variants, which is an optioned up version of the 3 SP23. It features leather trim and the package is available in both the hatchback and sedan models at the SP23 level. The package includes black or russet (red-brown) leather seat trim and a seven-speaker, 220 watt BOSE sound system complete with separate sub woofer. The black or russet leather is coordinated with the carís exterior colour and is complemented by matching door trims. The new Mazda 3 top-of-the-line model also features high-gloss, dark silver painted alloy wheels and door handles.

The Mazda 3 SP23 with the leather pack is priced from $31,980 (RRP). This is an increase of just $2,760 over the standard SP23. It is available with manual and automatic transmission. The 4-speed auto is optional at $2,000.

Mazda is to be commended for recognising something that only a few manufacturers have identified. Not everyone wants the base and mid-range models. By adding the 'Leather Pack', Mazda is catering, just as a small number of other manufacturers are, to the market's call for a wider selection of models in the small car market. The improvement in the selection of cars in the small car sector will assist the sector to expand the already high acceptance of the sector, as folks consider downsizing from larger uneconomical cars. By having a choice of a leather interior and a quality sound system, Mazda is bound to appeal to the many folks who are enjoying the fruits of our successful economy.

On the road, the SP23 manual performs adequately. Despite the SP23 being the sportiest Mazda 3, I didn't recognise the sportiness of the 3, even in SP23 guise. But there are no surprises with this car. It just gets on with the job. It neither excites nor disappoints.

On that basis, we must say the Mazda 3 SP23 is a pleasant car, rather than an exciting car. Performance is adequate, roominess is suitable and the on-road composure is good. It seemed to me, though, that the automatic may be a better driving proposition than the manual. But that may well be a personal thought, because the clutch and gear changing procedures were quite good in the test car.

Mazda 3 SP23 'Leather Pack' (copyright image)

Fuel consumption for the SP23 on the combined cycle is rated at 9l/100kms for the manual and 9.3l/100km for the auto. The other 3 models (with a 2 litre engine) are rated at 8.6l/100km (8.9l/100km for the auto) on the combined cycle.

The engine for the SP23 is a 16v DOHC 4 cylinder with a capacity of 2,260cc.

This writer prefers the styling of the sedan, rather than that of the hatchback. By having a sedan available in this segment is another good move, because not everyone wants a hatch.

Whilst most buyers go for the other versions of the Mazda 3, the SP23 offers reasonable economy with adequate performance. But the 'Leather Pack' is a real treat for those who desire a little more than a regular small car. The sedan looks good, although the hatch is more popular. The Mazda 3 is a successful car and there is no reason to suggest that is about to change.


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