• Sep 30, 2005


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.

AG Mazda3

AG Mazda3
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.
AG Mazda3

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.
AG Mazda3
AG Mazda3
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.
AG Mazda3


AG Mazda3
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.
AG Mazda3



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  • 21 Comments
      • 9 Years Ago
      sorry about the double comment. i am eating my words today though. this morning at 29,000 miles, my engine light came on. it seems my 3 had a exhaust valve regulator (i think that was it) stuck in the open position. it made it run lean they said. covered under warranty though. back to normal now.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I bought my 3 in 2004 as soon as they came out. I traded my Protege5 in on it and fell in love with the 5 speed Mazda3 on the first test drive. I can't wait to get off of work each day just to drive it, still. At 6 ft, I love the tilt/telescoping steering wheel and the fully adjustable seat. Very comfortable. My only complaints are the rear bumper (plastic cover) is cheap and came off after running over a metal hubcap (could not avoid it), the rear (factory only, Mazda replacements are fine) brakes are soft, caused excessive brake dust after 4 days and had to be replaced at 20,000 miles, the factory tires (Goodyear) are way too soft and need replacing at 27,000 miles, and the back seat has very little legroom for my 8 year old daughter, and that is when my 5' 6" girlfriend sits in front of her (could they have lengthened the body 3 inches more?) I know I may have just complained a lot, but this is the most comfortable, fun to drive, quickest non-turbo compact hatchback that I have driven and I would highly recomend buying one yourself. One test drive with the stick will have you hooked... and if you get to do it alone, be sure to rev the tach to 4000 -4500 or even 5000rpm (when going from 3rd to 4th or 4th to 5th) to get that maximum quick power fix. Trust me, it can and does handle it. ZoomZoooooooooooooooooooooom!
      • 9 Years Ago
      I find the red/orange back-lighting very irritating. And yes, the trendy silver gauge faces are difficult to see in the daytime. I'm also not a big fan of the integrated stereo. If they fixed these items during the MMY refresh, I'd get one for sure.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Have sat behind the wheel, but not yet test-driven. Reason I am posting: I'm 6'8", and had no trouble at all fitting in the 3. Telescoping wheel was fantastic; no obstruction of my clutch foot. I felt nice and low to the ground, like in my '88 Honda Civic.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Great read! I've had my Strato Blue sedan for a little over 14 months now, with no complaints. I've heard a few people complain about mileage, but my car religiously gets 27mpg city and 35mpg highway (provided I can keep the speed below 75). You are right, of course. This is a car that pratically begs to be opened up on the highway. Thankfully the cruise control works very well, or else I'd have a lot of tickets. At 6'3" I was a little worried that I'd not fit in any of the cars I went to look at, which was true of the Civic, but once I sat in the Mazda I knew I'd come home. Everyone in my family loves it and can't stop commenting about how nice a car I bought, and I can't stop singing the car's praises whenever someone asks. Its' always nice to have random people come up to you and tell you how much they like your car. And you know what? After 14 months it's -still- happening.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Xman The A/C is just fine on the 3, when used the right way. Just open the windows to evacuate the hot air first, then the A/C will keep you fresh. I tend to sweat a lot in hot or humid climates, and the 3 keeps me sweat-free. As far as your 3000 rpm remark is concerned : just turn off the gas-guzzling A/C and open the windows. You'll find the car very different at low rpm then. Bigel : what silver gauge faces? Mine are black with backlit red lettering. The gray border doesn't interfere at all in daytime, and has that nice blue glow at night. Very legible.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Loved this review. I've driven them and they are a blast. If the tires seem too noisey for you try another brand such as Kumho for a quieter, smoother ride. The OEM tires are loud and have stiff sidewalls, they wear out faster too. Wish I could trade but my 2001 Proteg頌X has only 23,740 trouble-free miles on it after four and a half years. I'm at the other end of the annual mileage thing. The suspension on the Mazda3 is softer than on the Proteg鬠Mazda got rid of the hop between 30mph and 45mph over road imperfections. And the MZ3 engine (2.3) is QUIET, you simply can not hear it until speed gets up to 30mph. For a small car with utility it exudes quality you won't find in other compacts. It's perfect as an single person's mini-SUV and weekend sports car. It's all about handling and even older drivers appreciate that. I'm 75, do I fit the buyer profile? You bet.
      • 9 Years Ago
      fleecy Well I appreciate you pov, but the 3 I drove had it's doors opened for a few minutes while the A/C was on, so the hot air had plenty of time to evacuate. By the way the A/C was on Max and recirculate modes. I've heard that some 3's have properly working A/C some don't. Shouldn't all of them, like yours apparently, work well? Besides, after sitting under a covered area for 15 min's in ONLY 83 degree heat, the car should have been cold inside. It wasn't. As to your second point, "turn off the gas-guzzling A/C and open the windows", your kidding right? Where I live we get 90+ degree weather for a good part of the year. My commute leaves me in bumper-to-bumper traffic going and coming from work. Unless you love the heat, you'd be miserable seating in any car under those conditions. All modern cars should have tractable power throughout it's rev-band without having to turn the A/C off. What's next, make sure any passengers I have don't excede a certain weight limit so that the engine doesn't have to work so hard? The 3 has a good engine, put I expected more out of 160hp/150 torque. As for saving gas, the cost in minimal and not worth sweating to get it, in my opinion. Heck, my first car, a '74 Plymouth Duster, had better A/C then the 3 I drove. To me, the A/C and low-end torque issues are problems that Mazda needs to address. In fact, I read that they've formed a group to address the complaints of American customers. What was one of the first complaints they are to address? You guessed it, weak A/C in ALL their cars.
      • 9 Years Ago
      "I don't recall ever riding in a 4 cylinder car with ice cold AC to battle our 90+ degree high humidity summer days." I had a '90 Cavalier with the 2.2L four banger. The air in that thing was so cold it could easily frost my windows in 90 heat. This review has highlighted so many reason why I'd never buy this car, it isn't funny. Tiny compartments, steering wheel controls, intergrated stereo, etc. I could go on but I don't feel like it. Piss on Mazda.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Retsel: Good math. Easy - just drive back and forth between Toronto and Montreal every six weeks or so. 1,100 km round trip plus ancillary driving. Geez - where do you live?
      • 9 Years Ago
      The only disappointment was when my wife bought one for herself, there was nothing I could do to persuade her to forgo the automatic for a manual transmission. That said, even the auto version is a great car. We've had it 18 months and 42,000 km. Rock solid.
      • 9 Years Ago
      fleecy Your comments to me are absurd and have nothing to do with this discussion. Once again, I like the Mazda3, except for it's lack of low-end torque and lousy A/C, at least in the car I test drove. You like your "3"? Great. You don't mind driving with the A/C off to save a few cents? Terrific. But, taking cheap shots at other posters is neither great or terrific. It's juvenile. Please stick to the subject matter and leave the personal insults out. Thanks.
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