– By Rod Fuller –
You’ve been given the option of a novated lease. Hooray! No more poverty pack specials for you. But if your budget is $40K or less, what can you buy/lease that is ‘top of the line’, stylish, spirited, fun to drive and will help you forget forever, those base model fleet special you used to drive?
Well recently I had the pleasure of testing just such a vehicle, the Mazda3 SP25 Astina. And thinking about it now, I’m still smiling.
The SP25 Astina is ‘top of the line’ in the very popular Mazda3 range. It is the model that has all the toys, gadgets and gizmos that just make it feel better than all the other models in the range. And isn’t that what the ‘top of the line’ is all about? Feeling good?
At first sight the SP25 simply oozed style and looked exciting. Then when I drove it, my first impressions were confirmed. It is a fun car to drive, the Skyactiv 2.5l 16V DOHC engine puts out 138kw and 250nm, giving the SP25 spirited performance that is beautifully matched with a paddle shifter automatic transmission, making it just so enjoyable to drive.
With all the fun happening, the engine only puts out 143g/km of CO2 and very economically sips the ULP at a combined average of 6.1litres/100km, thanks largely to the istop feature of the engine.
The SP25 has impeccable road manners and I found my smile growing with every corner, as the beautifully balanced steering and suspension allowed me to place the car exactly where I wanted. Ride quality is firm, but that is the price of responsiveness, particularly when riding on 18 inch black alloy wheels (which look great) with 215/45R18 Dunlop tyres.
On the inside the SP25 abounds in features and luxury, helping to erase those memories of the Fleet Manager’s favourites, no air, no cruise, no fun.
Heated leather seats with 10 way power adjustability for the driver are standard on the SP25; along with radar cruise control, sunroof, seven inch colour touch screen (doubles as reverse camera display) and the fantastic MZD Connect system to control the 230w 9 speaker Bose sound system with DAB digital audio, Bluetooth hands-free phone connection and Satellite Navigation. The sound quality is amazing, especially when using the phone, with the clarity of sound making it one of the better systems I’ve experienced.
Safety features on the 5 star ANCAP rated Mazda3 SP25 Astina include, Forward Obstruction Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Lane-keeping Assist Systems as well as Smart Brake Support. And with all the distractions that are in cars today, I especially like the SP25’s ‘heads up’ instrument display. As it, along with the MZD Connect system (easy simple, no look one handed operation of the infotainment controls) really are safety features a well. They help you keep your eyes where they are supposed to be – on the road.
The SP25 is also a practical everyday drive. Five door hatchback with quick easy split fold rear seats for more space when needed, its economical, comfortable and is supported by a three year unlimited km warranty. But I do note that it like all the Mazda3 range and in fact most of the Mazda range, it only has a temporary spare, which as good and safe as they are, I feel aren’t as good as a full size spare wheel.
If you are considering a new vehicle to lease for under $40K, the Mazda3 SP25 Astina is the pinnacle of the Mazda3 range. The SP25 Astina has all the goodies and toys to keep you happy, wrapped in a superbly responsive and pleasurable to drive motor vehicle.
It ticks all the boxes and will help you consign all your memories, of those poverty pack specials your Fleet Manager used to make you drive to the waste bin forever. Why? Because driving it, you can’t help but smile.
If you have the option to get one, there is only one answer – Yes please.