Great looking and driving car. 2.3 I-4 with variable valve timing is very versatile -- rev to 6000+ RPM on a beltway on-ramp or cruise in 5th gear at low speeds on level terrain. EPA estimate is 32 mpg highway. I have only achieved that rating once or twice (long distances at speeds under 60 mph). Rpm kills mpg. It needs a 6th gear. In 5th, it revs 3000 rpm at 70 mph and fuel mileage suffers (avg 28-29 mpg hwy). Otherwise, it is great fun to drive. It goes where you point it. 4-wheel disc brakes are outstanding. Oil is a pain to change, with an aero pan that needs to be removed for filter access and filters available only from Mazda. 17" 50 series Goodyear RS-As are NOT snow tires.
Handling, brakes, steering. This car is the closest thing to a go kart I have driven in a long time. Yet, it is reasonably comfortable on trips. Seats with adjustable lumbar supports are very comfortable. 5-door hatchback looks great, especially in Velocity Red.
Give this car a 6th gear, a deeper overdrive. It has enough torque to pull on hills at highway speeds but it could be a real econocar with a 6-speed transmission. A/C, with black interior, is not real effective in very hot weather. Exhaust note could be improved - just a little more attitude.
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