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      10-19-2017, 10:39 AM   #1
mbanks21
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Thoughts on Mazda 3?

Looking to downsize and save some money for the next 12-18 months before I blow it all on the next gen M3. Currently in a 2015 335 Msport but looking for a small/midsize 4 door sporty car about $20-25k. The Mazda 3 five door comes with a manual tranny, ~195hp, weighs 3046lbs (vs ~3700 for my 335). I have yet to drive one but it's on my short list. Thoughts?
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      10-19-2017, 11:06 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by mbanks21 View Post
Looking to downsize and save some money for the next 12-18 months before I blow it all on the next gen M3. Currently in a 2015 335 Msport but looking for a small/midsize 4 door sporty car about $20-25k. The Mazda 3 five door comes with a manual tranny, ~195hp, weighs 3046lbs (vs ~3700 for my 335). I have yet to drive one but it's on my short list. Thoughts?
I had a 2016 Mazda 3 hatch with the 2.5L and a manual until a couple of months ago when a lady ran a red light. We also have a 2016 328i and have had a number of N54 and N55 cars. I replaced the Mazda with a GTI.

Compared to the F30 the Mazda has comically better steering, the brakes initial bite feels much more natural and tech features were actually better too. It's got a pretty flinty suspension though, even compared to the RFTs of the BMW. And while you might think the naturally aspirated motor would rev well or be fun, it's actually my biggest fault with that car and what kept me from getting another. It's possible that it's better with the auto, but it's flat awful with a manual.

It hates to rev, 4500 is about the useful top end. It has okay torque starting at about 2000 rpm. So it's effectively a diesel. You have a 2500 rpm range that it's fun at. I averaged 24 mpg, admittingly I drove it hard, but my GTI is getting between 27 and 28 on the same cycle while having another 100 lb/ft of torque, happily revving to 7200 all day and just smashing my belief that any n/a motor is better than any turbo motor.

But it was a lot of fun to drive, we used it on weekends and very rarely drove the 3er. I find the F30 to be a very dull car with very little feedback or sense of fun, and that's the LCI. The lack of an LSD is a huge fail, even when you plow thorough the button pushes to get it into Sport + and knock the DSC down a level.

Prior to killing it, I'd have strongly recommended it with the provision that it's slow and not very efficient. But now I feel silly for not having bought the 70 pound heavier, but 7.5 inch shorter GTI in the first place. It doesn't have the blind spot monitoring, rear traffic alert or nav, but they're available, and it does have Apple Play, which Mazda still hasn't sorted out.

I got my GTI at $500 over invoice pricing and with the '18s about to arrive, you could easily get an S or Sport for under $25k.
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      10-19-2017, 11:15 AM   #3
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One extremely minor note, but if you have a kid and live somewhere stupid like I do, Dallas, the Mazda 3 not having hvac vents in the back was annoying. Thankfully the Golf/GTI has them, so he's more comfortable on hot days.
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      10-19-2017, 11:16 AM   #4
mbanks21
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Awesome input! Thank you! I should have added I have two kids (11 and 6) so that 7.5 fewer inches could be a deal breaker. Hopefully the 2018 Mazda 3 is better than the 2016 in terms of power delivery.

I'm not keen on any American models in the same category. Any other thoughts from anyone else?
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      10-19-2017, 11:20 AM   #5
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The length is primarily just wasted space on the Mazda. There's actually more leg room in the VW. There's a little less trunk length, but more height and more overall volume in the "still in the box" VW.

Styling wise, the Mazda kills the VW. But '18s motor is exactly the same as the '16. The only difference is head and tail light changes, the logic in the DSC and a few interior pieces are a little nicer and the HUD is now color instead of green. But both motors are still exactly the same.

The Focus is about to be replaced and the interior is naff, but the ST has good power and is fun to drive. The Civic Si drives great, but is F30 sized and so blindingly ugly I couldn't really consider it. Worth pointing out that BMW is offering huge incentives on Minis right now, but the motors are tricky. I really prefer the 3, but it's not going to be fast. The 4 feels a lot like the Mazda engine, lots of low end torque, but power drops off fast and it revs about as fast as Mitch McConnell speaks.
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      10-19-2017, 11:24 AM   #6
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The Mazda 3 is a good choice for a low-cost daily driver for an enthusiast, but I would agree that a VW GTI is worth a look too, especially with the year-end incentives on 2017s. My last GTI, a 2011, was a great car - fun to drive, plenty of room considering its size and never saw the dealer except for regular maintenance. I replaced the GTI with a MINI JCW, and the '18 GTI is at the top of my list for replacing the MINI next year.

I'd also give the '18 Civic Si a look.
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      10-19-2017, 11:30 AM   #7
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Worth noting that the new Mazda 3 will be shown at Tokyo next month. There are a few teaser photos floating around and the press has been allowed to drive the new motor in the current body and all reports have been very positive.

https://www.motortrend.com/cars/mazd...ve-review/amp/
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      10-19-2017, 11:34 AM   #8
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Just one more fun fact about the Mazda. It has a 13.2g tank, and the low fuel light comes on with 5 gallons left and it will show 0 miles to empty with three gallons remaining. I would reset the trip meter at 0 Miles and drive 30-60 more miles and never put in more than 12.6g in 32k miles.
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      10-19-2017, 11:38 AM   #9
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The '18 GTI will be a refresh also.
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      10-19-2017, 11:48 AM   #10
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The '18 GTI will be a refresh also.
But incredibly minor with no mechanical changes outside of the R getting a 7s DSG in place of the old 6s.

LED headlights and new bumpers plus a new head unit and all GTIs will have the current Performance Pack with the Rs brakes, 225hp instead of 215 on the S and an LSD.

But it will help pricing on remaining 17s. Be aware that finding a manual is pretty tough, at least here in TX. I ended up with an SE instead of a Sport because I couldn't find a Sport with a manual that wasn't black or white.

One 18 change I'm jealous of though, the SE will have the option for tartan cloth instead of the pleather.

The '19 Mazda 3 will be a new chassis and new engine. If you have the time to wait, could be worth seeing if it's worthwhile.

Of course it's probably worth mentioning that VW just upped their warranty to six years, which would have been nice.
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      10-19-2017, 11:55 AM   #11
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My GF bought a new Mazda 3 (Sport, 2.0L 6MT, hatch) just under year ago. It's really quite good. I find the 2.0 likes to rev more than the larger engine; this is relative, of course, but I certainly don't find it objectionable. Fuel economy has been right around 30mpg in mixed driving. She's at 15k miles now and couldn't be happier with it.
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      10-19-2017, 12:16 PM   #12
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I'm really not even looking long term, 18 months at the MOST, just something fun and semi-sporty with 4 doors. I'm holding out hope there will be an M240GC with a manual tranny in 2019
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      10-19-2017, 12:34 PM   #13
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There won't be a rwd 2er GC. So there you go, problem solved. There will be a fwd one with a various sideways four bangers. Part of the reason I'm driving a GTI, there are no small rwd sedans or especially hatches/wagons available in the US and certainly none with three pedals.

I have driven the 2.0L and it's a more enjoyable engine and not that much slower even to 100 mph. It certainly revs better. Mazda has made it harder to get decent content with that motor though, but it would also save you money.
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      10-19-2017, 04:47 PM   #14
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One more thing to mention about the Mazda, the 2.5L has a large tach with a digital gas gauge and a small digital speed readout. It repeats the digital speed in the HUD.

But there's almost no other information, even in the big screen. No coolant temp, no oil temp, nothing but idiot lights. Mildly annoying if you're used to having decent info.

[img]http://st.motortrend.com/uploads/sit...cluster-02.jpg[/img]
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      10-20-2017, 01:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Bread View Post
One more thing to mention about the Mazda, the 2.5L has a large tach with a digital gas gauge and a small digital speed readout. It repeats the digital speed in the HUD.

But there's almost no other information, even in the big screen. No coolant temp, no oil temp, nothing but idiot lights. Mildly annoying if you're used to having decent info.

[img]http://st.motortrend.com/uploads/sit...cluster-02.jpg[/img]
As long as I have HUD with speed limit. I do like on the 335 it has the NAV directions and sat radio/bluetooth music info
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      10-20-2017, 01:58 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbanks21 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Bread View Post
One more thing to mention about the Mazda, the 2.5L has a large tach with a digital gas gauge and a small digital speed readout. It repeats the digital speed in the HUD.

But there's almost no other information, even in the big screen. No coolant temp, no oil temp, nothing but idiot lights. Mildly annoying if you're used to having decent info.

[img]http://st.motortrend.com/uploads/sit...cluster-02.jpg[/img]
As long as I have HUD with speed limit. I do like on the 335 it has the NAV directions and sat radio/bluetooth music info
Yep, and the speed limit stuff seems to have more coverage than our F30. HUD shows that and nav turn by turn. It's a nice setup.
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      10-20-2017, 02:07 PM   #17
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I know you said the nothing American intrigues you but for 20-25k I'd say the focus st can't be beat. Might wanna go test drive one.
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      10-22-2017, 01:09 PM   #18
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I currently own a loaded '17 Mazda3 GT hatch that's been an ideal and competent DD at this price point.

It's not RWD, and it doesn't have CarPlay yet, but it is solid, entertaining (especially in Sport mode), and immensely practical. The new-for-'17 updates were excellent, particularly the interior facelift. I'd recommend the Mazda3 in a heartbeat to anyone, with the caveat that it's not a sports car, but still a fun and sporty one.

I've decided to return to my BMW roots, so will be swapping my Mazda3 in November for an '18 M240i, now in transit. Hoping that I won't be making a foolish mistake, giving up something 'really good' and paying twice the price to get something possibly 'great'.
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      10-22-2017, 01:15 PM   #19
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Decent car. I daily a mazda 3 hatch. Long commute to work gets me 36mpg. Engaging little car and comfortable for me also. Get the manual!
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      10-22-2017, 02:45 PM   #20
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Engaging little car and comfortable for me also. Get the manual!
Ordinarily I strongly favor manual transmissions. But I went for the AT (w/paddles) on my 3, and am very happy with its logic and performance.

The traffic and congestion in SoCal are awful... last month it took me 5.5 hours to do a 110-mile homebound commute. And even in the city, driving a MT can be a PITA a majority of the time. Last week, it took me 40 minutes to get 12 miles home from Costco by freeway on a weeknight at 9 PM. Owning a decent AT-equipped car is virtually a necessity here, to avoid going nuts!

So, if, due to circumstance or preference, the OP needs/wants an AT, I doubt that the Mazda3's unit will disappoint. (As consolations, it's quicker and more economical than the MT.)
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      10-22-2017, 03:34 PM   #21
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Yeah I never have traffic so opted for the manual
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      10-24-2017, 01:47 AM   #22
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I have a '14 i sedan 6MT (155hp) as my DD. 6 speed is very notchy, but at least it doesn't have the rubbery feel. I had the tranny fluid replaced a few weeks back after 60k miles. Noticable improvement, but still notchy. It's peppy, comfortable and if you baby it can do 40mpg on a tank. From stock I did not really like the handling. Installed Eibach springs and ditched the wheel/tires for mazdaspeed3 wheels and continental sport contact extreme (whatever the new one is from DW). MUCH better now. I think as a whole package I could not find a better car. Exterior/interior design, performance and MPG and made in Japan.

I will say that now it's underpowered as you can buy civic sport with 180hp for similar price, I believe. I have not touched the motor, except for K&N filter.
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