2012 Mazda 3: Boom Boom Bose
October 31, 2012
Bose is one of those companies you're aware of early on as you learn about audio gear. Either someone in your family has a pair of Bose speakers, or someone raves about the noise-cancelling headphones, or you buy a car with a branded audio system. Years ago, my father bought some Bose speakers for the house, the 301 Series II or III, I think. Oak-look cabinets with kinda drab black and khaki grille cloth.
At the time, Bose was touting its port technology, designed to produce stronger bass from smaller cabinets and the eight-inch woofers. Dad was ultimately disappointed and the speakers soon migrated to grandma's house.
You soon learn that Bose makes decent, if overpriced, audio gear. You also learn that they run shrewd marketing campaigns. The Bose system in our Mazda 3 is pretty good though, better than any compact car's system has a right to be. It came standard on our Grand Touring package, but it's available -- bundled with a sunroof -- for $1,400 on the lower iTouring trim with automatic transmission (but not the manual). Once again, you row-your-own types get the shaft.
Let's assume the sunroof is about half the cost of that package. So for $700, you get a pretty good 10-speaker Bose system that offers good clarity, good frequency response and good bass. Even if we're a little more conservative with the sunroof costs, the Bose system still seems like a decent value. You'd be hard-pressed to assemble an aftermarket package of equal quality.
Now, I know Bose does some pretty cool and innovative stuff. They undoubtedly have a good engineering corps, and I've read about some of the interesting frequency suppression work they've done on suspension systems with GM, I believe. If such a thing as a Bose fanboy exists, I'm sure I will hear from you. All I'm saying is that, for the dough, I'm looking at JBL or Harman all day.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor