Review of my first ride, Mazda 3 2014 2.0R

2014 was a really good year for me. I guess it was a pay-off of my generosity for 2013, and damn it came back way more than ten folds. A sudden windfall happened and it changed my life! My priority back then was to find a better, bigger space to rent. After transferring to my new apartment, the idea of getting was the next thing boggling my mind.

Quest for a car!

Initial budget was sub-P1M. I was already okay with Hyundai Elantra but I was met with heavy opposition from my parents as they don’t trust Korean cars that much yet. My dad and my younger brother asked me to check out Mazda 3 and it had me at love at first sight (via Google Images). I got excited with the HUD and infotainment system, which I’ll discuss later.

There was a slight problem though, the variant that I wanted was pricier than my budget. Their 2.0R sedan variant costs P1,195,000.00. I tried justifying the price for its awesomeness until I convinced myself it was the perfect car for me without even seeing one in person! I immediately searched for the nearest Mazda dealership and got in touch with a Sales Advisor (contact details below). I paid for the refundable reservation fee (which will be deducted in the car’s total price or the other fees) the same day.

Sales Advisor

LJ Santos
Sales Advisor at Mazda Quezon Avenue
0915 583 5274

Since that day, I received constant follow-ups from the SA I got hold on to. He invited me for a test-drive but I was hesitant to do one since I don’t have confidence in my driving skills yet. No one wants to damage a test vehicle! Tried calling different driving schools but found their prices too steep so I decided to ask a friend to teach me how to drive.

I also started calling different banks to apply for a bank loan. Out of all the banks I tried applying to, only Unionbank approved my loan request since I had prior banking relationship with them.

It was time to get my new car. All documents were ready but the weather wasn’t too cooperative. I decided to have my unit released after the upcoming storm. By July 17, I finally went to the dealership to pickup my car.

There were butterflies in my tummy while signing the paperwork at the dealership. I was just signatures away from getting my first car and it felt surreal. By the time I was done, the keys were handed to me by my service advisor and asked me for a ceremonial photo-op of the turnover.

Turnover of Mazda 3 2.0R Sedan

First drive, impressions, etc

I bought my friend who taught me how to drive when I picked up my car. I honestly didn’t know how to ignite the engines that time since it had keyless ignition. I was told to depress the brake pedal while pushing the ignition switch. The Mazda 3 2014 roars quite loud when starting the engine cold. I later learned that it was designed that way to warm the engine faster. It revs up to about 2,000rpm for less than 30 seconds, then revs down back to normal.

My first observation was that braking was a lot more sensitive than I expected since it has a linear pedal response. I eventually learned how to play with the brake pedal to have a smooth brake.

With auto-headlights and rain-sensing wiper, it was a good beginner car. I didn’t have to mind switching on the headlights when it’s dark as it turns on by itself. Same is true with the wipers! It also has a walk-away autolock feature where it locks itself when the you move away from the car.

The sunroof was a welcome addition. Aside from the sunroof, the 18″ rims was what set aside the 1.5L variant to the 2.0L (engine). I loved the way things were so up to now everything is still stock.

Mazda 3 2.0R Sedan

My first long drive

I always drove with a companion for almost two days. I tried doing a solo drive on my second night. This was the time I decided I’m confident enough to do a long-distance drive.

On the third day, I decided to drive to Republic Wake Park in Canlubang, Laguna. I had the chance to play with it on the expressway. Upon reaching Republic, I learned that their still cleaning up their lakes due to the recent typhoon so I decided to go to Lago de Oro in Calatagan, Batangas instead. With its powerful Skyactiv engine, zooming to 100km/h was effortless. I tried to push it much further and enjoyed the responsiveness of the engine and the steering. That time, I almost forgot that I was a n00b driver a week earlier.

Mazda 3 2.0R Sedan Fuel Efficiency

The car and my lifestyle

I’m a laid-back guy with a completely remote work. I don’t have an office to go to daily so I basically just use the car whenever I have nightouts, when I just feel like driving or when going out of town for wakeboarding. I registered my first 1,000km in just a little more than two weeks.

Mazda 3 2.0R Sedan and my wake gear

The trunk of this car was a lot more generous than I thought. I can load two (2) wakeboards, a wakeskate and our other wakeboard stuff. On a full load (four passengers and a driver), there’s a slight degradation in performance but it has never been an issue for me!

My friends tell me that I’m trigger happy. I love revving up the engine when the road’s clear and safe. I take the car’s top speed more as a challenge and not just another data. So far, my fastest I’ve zoomed is 180km/h out of the top speed 212km/h.

i-Stop and i-Eloop

For a P1.2M car, it was technologically advanced. It had the i-Stop and i-Eloop technologies – basically buzzwords to describe the generative braking technology. When the braking either by pedal or engine braking, the lost mechanical energy is charged to a capacitor. The charge in the capacitor is then used to power stuff such as headlights, the infotainment system and the other car electronics. It helps boost fuel efficiency since those auxilliary electronic components doesn’t need to suck power all the time from the engine.

i-Stop, in a nutshell, turns off the engine when coming to a halt on a flat surface with the steering wheel aligned to the center. It is really helpful especially in Metro Manila traffic – no need to burn fuel while waiting for the stoplights to go green. Engine start-up after releasing the brakes is amazingly fast that in most cases you won’t notice it!

Fuel efficiency

Engineers at Mazda worked hard in bring the SkyActiv technology to Mazda 3. They made it lighter than its predecessor and reworked on the shape to minimize air drag. On a long drive, I easily get 6-8L/100 km (12.5km/L to 16.7km/L). In a downhill drive from Tagaytay to Sta Rosa, I once got a fuel efficieny of more than 25km/L!

I average a 6L/100km or 16.7km/L fuel efficiency on weekday night drives (8pm) from Katipunan Avenue to EDSA-Ayala (via Boni Serrano then EDSA). For medium traffic, I average 8-10L/100km (10-11km/L). On really horrible traffic, I get horrible fuel efficiency for this beast as well. I’ve tried traversing C5 on a really bad night and got as low as 25L/100km or 4km/L!

Beast mode!

Infotainment System and the HUD

Honestly, the main reason I chose this car was the HUD or the heads-up display. I was thrilled by the idea of having a HUD while driving. It has always been my dream to be a pilot and having a HUD in the dash makes me feel like flying a jet fighter.

With the HUD, the speed is overlayed in front of you so there’s no need to look down on your dash. This is helpful especially when driving in places with speed limits such as Commonwealth Avenue.

The infotainment system is also superb. I have compared it to the one in the new Honda City. The user interface for the Mazda 3 is way better than the one in Honda City.

Music can be played via Bluetooth or the built-in two USB ports. So far, I’ve tried pairing several phones (Android, iOS and Blackberry phones) and they paired flawlessly. It also has an excellent integration with iPods, you can scroll through your albums, songs, and playlists via the infotainment system.

For communications, you can place and receive calls easily. Answer and hangup buttons are strategically located on the steering wheel. You can also receive and let the car read incoming text messages. You can save predefined messages in the car as well so that you can easily reply to SMS. It doesn’t allow you to type messages while typing for some obvious reasons.

The infotainment system also has an app called Warning Guidance. It helps you determine what those warning lights in the dash mean. It also has a Maintenance app where you can ask it to remind you when you’re due for maintenance! You can also configure other car settings via the infotainment system. User interface is basically straight-forward so it’s really easy to find your way to what you’re looking.

The only thing I hate about the infotainment system is the lack of Navigation SD for the Philippines. There’s actually a compatible Navigation SD for the Philippines but it’s way outdated so they decided not to sell it. From what I’ve heard, they’re still looking for other map providers that has a more up-to-date data.

Final words

It is undeniably my best purchase of 2014! I can’t compare it much with other cars since this is my first car. There’s a sense of exclusivity in owning this car since it’s not that mainstream!

Since it’s almost a complete redesign from its predecessor, teething issues are expected. Sometimes I hear creaking sounds when driving by humps when it’s raining, but I heard it can be easily fixed by generously greasing the struts.

I can’t wait to attend my first meetup with my fellow Mazda 3 Skyactiv owners so that I can compare the difference of my unit to theirs – if things are going normally on mine or not.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.

I'm Mikko, an overseas Filipino worker based in Hong Kong.

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