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It's time to wrap it up, and we will now descend into the first-person. It is utterly disappointing to see Mazda3 go. From the moment I slid into the seat and took off, it was like reuniting with a long lost friend. What can I say; it certainly deserves all the praise it receives in the media. After all the praise about there car's dynamics, there are a couple items that I forgot to go over.
First, the interior has a high utility value. There are seemingly unlimited little cubby holes and compartments for every little thing. Plus, the glove box has to be the biggest I have ever seen in a compact car. Of course, the rear seats fold down, as usual in this class of compact wagon/hatchback. There is also a nifty compartment under the floor in the trunk. It is very handy for storing various items like fast food condiments, Odwalla bars, and other goodies in case a late night romp through twisting mountain passes finds you stranded in the woods like an all-too heroic rally driver.
Secondly, driver controls are unexpectedly good for a car in this price range. For instance, these are the best on-wheel stereo controls that I?ve run across in a long time. They integrate nicely with the wheel, and are right at your thumb when you?re running the most effective 3 o?clock-9 o?clock hand positing. The steering wheel is the perfect tool for tossing the Mazda3 around, it almost seems purposefully crafted to inspire the racer in the person behind the wheel.
Any complaints? Besides the tendency to excessively speed and the fantasy of having more top end power, Mazda3 has
little to fault. I do take issue with the instrument cluster. The IC is lit all the time, and those crimson lit digits
are hard to see in bright sunlight.
It is also important to illustrate what kind of buyer this vehicle fits. Those looking for an ultra cushy ride may want to look else where. The Mazda has that low to the ground feeling that I relate to a seemingly long gone generation of fun to drive Japanese cars. If you looking for a mini-Lexus, this isn?t it. Otherwise, the Mazda has a solid ride, and is reasonably comfortable. This is especially true considering the car?s sporting character.
I highly recommend the Mazda3 for those who enjoy driving but are on a budget. It is a great combination of an engaging driving experience with a high utility interior. It is a combination that is hard to beat for under $20,000. We look forward to seeing what Mazda does with the rumored MAZDASPEED3. Check out our upcoming Autoblog Podcast 15 this weekend for our discussion of the Mazda3 and the next vehicle in the Autoblog Garage.