2006 Mazda 3 Hatchback s Grand Touring 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
Great all around car. Handles like a dream (Volvo S40 underpinnings). Brakes like a roller coaster. Quick revving engine. Auto transmission is eager to downshift, sometimes too eager. Only gripes, no MP3 input and mileage from EPA overstated. If you are considering a Civic, Corolla or a Rabbit, get your head examined. They are a joke. If you are looking at a Civic Si, look at the MazdaSpeed 3. No comparing the two.
Looks. Handling, braking, engine and build quality. Comfort (excellent but not overdone bolstering on the front seats).
2006 Mazda 3 Hatchback s 4dr Hatchback (2.3L 4cyl 5M)
I fell in love with the car when it first came out, replacing the interesting Protege 5 with a more substantial car with a much beefier engine. The Mazda3 5-door brings fun, quality, and style to the compact market without sacrificing price and fuel economy too much. I tend to get 23-27MPG in the city with fairly aggressive acceleration. The seats in the 5-doors are a high quality cloth, with a great look and feel. I am tall at 6'2", and I fit comfortably in the driver seat. I even have it forward a click, and if I do not recline my seat too much, I can get a 6 foot person behind me. Much more room than my friend's 04 Jetta. Overall, it is a great car with features and quality to boot.
The engine and manual transmission are outstanding. The car is very confident, even at high speeds. The 5 door comes standard with many features such as 17" alloy, great lights, power everything, and a good stereo. BTW, the handling is amazing, especially for front wheel drive.
The AC can take a little longer than average to cool when it has been sitting in the FL sun for hours. I would like to see better gas mileage for it's HP, maybe 28/34 instead of 26/31.
Handles tight. Good acceleration for a 4/automatic. Gas mileage...25 in town with a/c on; 28 without a/c; 30-32 hwy. Comfortable seats, front and back. Easy controls. Oil filter is a dealer/autoshop job, as requires a special tool and the filter is not the standard metal jacketed filter (think naked filter, needs a gasket too).
Handling is wonderful. Good headlights. Good interior space for a small car.
Oil filter should be a normal, change it yourself filter. A little noisy on low speed tight turns (scraping noise?), Floor mats are thin and cheap.
This is an awesome compact car. Call it a hatch or a wagon, it does not matter- it's a great ride with utility. It has plenty of room for my small family, and is an excellent commuter or canyon carving car. Vehicles like this prove that a gas slurping SUV is not necessary in most cases. I am able to nimbly avoid traffic situations rather than drive over them. The mechanicals and refinement are excellent, and beats the new Civic hands down (drove the new 06 EX before I bought this) - no contest if you love to drive. If you are happy driving a boring car, buy the Civic or a Corolla and be happy. I drive "spirited" with the 5M (superb!) and average 30.4 mpg after 10,500 miles. Excellent buy!
It is a DRIVERS car! Everything works like a Swiss watch - very finely tuned. Power, manual transmission, RELIABILITY! and MPG are excellent. The handling is on par with BMW's of 5 years ago (thats a great thing!) Oh yeah, Winning blue rocks!
Scrap the factory Goodyear RS-A's - they do not do this car justice, especially in winter weather. Buy a set of dedicated snows and drive competently and safely. The carpet quality is cheesy, but hey, I'm driving, not looking at the carpet while in motion. Heated mirrors would be nice too.