I drove a Protege5 for 10 years and I loved that car. I fully expected to love my new 2012 Mazda 3 but have been disappointed--no love yet. Yes, it gets awesome gas mileage -- but it is not nearly as spirited or fun to drive as the Protege5. Hugs the road well, but
quite sluggish acceleration. If you have the 6 spd manual, plan to do
a LOT of shifting very quickly.
Disappointing driving experience compared to Protege5.
Interior cabin is cramped due to enormous dash and console, and ceiling in rear is much lower than Protege so if you have a dog in the back, it better be a short one.
Miles per gallon.
Ability to display current mpg can make you a little obsessive but does aid in learning best shift points, etc.
Ability to set cruise control, then bump it up or down without resetting cruise.
Rear window washer.
Pretty good speakers without upgrading sound system
-cup holders--have to reach slightly backwards and take my eyes off the road to use
-cavernous, unlit glove compartment too deep to find anything-- it's crazy! No lock
-cabin space is odd and poorly planned. Several narrow, deep holes in the dash but nothing to keep change organized, nowhere for glasses or pens. You can put water bottles in all the door pockets, but if you do, there is no room for anything else.
-cheap floor mats held in place with little plastic nubs right under your feet
-seats uncomfortable compared to protege--lumbar support is too high up seat.
-rear seats do not fold flat so stuff slides to the rear
-I'm small (5'2)and the cabin is very uncomfortable and tight
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