2014 Mazda 3: Like Our Macan, It Could Really Benefit From Summer Tires
July 24, 2014
Last month, fellow editor Jay Kavanagh observed that our long-term Porsche Macan's handling abilities are tamed by its all-season tires. He recommended making sure to get the summer tires if you're buying a Macan. (You are getting a Porsche, after all.)
It's not the only vehicle in our fleet that could use a set of summer tires, though. I happen to think the same thing about our 2014 Mazda 3.
Yes, the Mazda 3 is just a small, economy-oriented front-drive hatchback. Yet much like a Porsche, the Mazda 3's got quick and precise steering and a fun-to-drive nature that will have you wanting to drive through turns with enthusiasm. The weak link, at least from a handling perspective, is the car's set of Dunlop SP Sport 5000 all-season tires.
Here's a quote from our test driver's notes after testing the Mazda 3 at our test track:
"This is a planted car with excellent suspension tuning. The precise steering means it goes exactly where you point it. If the tires had more grip it would do even better, as they "give up" pretty early."
The official numbers from our testing are a slalom speed of 64.5 mph and a skidpad measurement of 0.83g. These are decent results, don't get me wrong; a 2014 Toyota Corolla Eco we tested posted 62.3 mph and 0.78g, respectably. But they're also not that much different than our long-term 2014 Kia Forte, at 63.7 mph and .82g. From behind the wheel, the 3 feels a lot more capable, but the tires keep you from really exploiting it. Going around turns and having the tires squealing away is kind of embarrassing, too.
Of course, the last thing you're going to want to do after buying a brand-new Mazda 3 is spend even more money on a set of new tires. But if this were my car I'd really want to replace these all-seasons with summer tires once they wear out. (Or, if I lived in a place with freezing temperatures and snow, summer tires for summer and winter tires (with an extra set of wheels) for winter.)
One nice thing about our car is that it seems there's plenty of summer tire selection in the 215/45R18 tire size. Tire Rack lists 17 different sets ranging from around $500 to $1000 for a set of four tires.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 10,292 miles