August 29, 2012
As we've previously mentioned, the 3 doesn't exactly have your back when the mercury rises.
Today it was 90 degrees out, and I found myself constantly checking to make sure that I'd actually activated the Mazda's A/C. Since the air coming out of the vents was moderately cool and not cold, I thought for a minute that I had only the fan turned on. When the weather situation is dire enough to reduce you to a sticky puddle of sweat in mere seconds, you want frost and icicles in the cabin, not a mild breeze.
I spent 20 minutes in the 3 today, and at the end of it, the cabin still wasn't completely cooled. Lots to love about our cheerful little Mazda, but blazing-hot weather is its kryptonite, apparently.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor
August 28, 2012
Overall, I like our Mazda 3's cabin, and it's holding up pretty well with over 14,000 miles on the odometer and a road trip or two under its belt. The beige-and-black color scheme may not be the most practical, but to my eyes, it works to give things a fairly upmarket look.
I also like the leather used on the seats. It's nicely grained, and it's also proving to be quite durable.
I'm not too crazy about some of the plastics used, though. Specifically, those plastics on the center stack, which look cheap and monotonous.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 14,440 miles
August 24, 2012
Our 2012 Mazda 3 is an i Grand Touring model. It has leather-lined seats. Its driver seat also has power fore/aft adjustment and power recline. But it doesn't have lumbar adjustment, either power or manual.
In the past, I dismissed adjustable lumbar as a nonessential feature, something for old people, not for me. Now, I'm old(er) and coming to realize that lumbar adjustment is for me.
Mind you, the seat comfort in this car is still passable on a 6-hour drive, but there were moments during my Monterey trip when I wanted more lower back support and couldn't get it.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 14,340 miles
August 20, 2012
"We've been waiting for you," the really very young valet guy told me as the Mazda 3 and I pulled into a hotel parking garage near Monterey's Cannery Row.
"Yeah, there's a spot saved for you."
"Are you sure I won't get towed?" I asked as I backed into this very spot.
Ten minutes later, it turned out he was not. He'd mistaken me for a McLaren executive. And I don't know about the Mazda 3... perhaps it's the front-engine, front-drive hatchback McLaren would build if it was in the business of building of front-engine, front-drive hatchbacks?
In any case, the 3 was relocated to steerage and I was given a normal valet ticket.
I'd been on the road for hours at that point, but I was in a good mood. Driver-seat comfort in the Mazda isn't bad, and in spite of the car's reputation as the sporty car of the budget car class, the ride is sufficiently compliant.
The headlights are also very good if you end up with the Grand Touring model. They're adaptive xenons, and the adaptability of said lights when you add steering input is about as good as any high-end car with this feature. I had no problems seeing through the turns on Highway 68 and 17-Mile Drive in the dark -- and this came in handy as I made repeated runs down these roads during my weekend on the Monterey Peninsula.
I'll post fuel economy numbers from the trip later this week.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 14,414 miles
July 31, 2012
I had a less-is-more moment as I got into our Mazda 3 last night. I'd just spent the weekend in the big, gas-hoggy and tech-heavy Infiniti JX35, which has quite a vocabulary of safety beeps and proximity alerts. With that in mind, it was refreshing to start up a car that's small, simple and abstemious. And not quite so talkative.
This isn't meant to be a comparison of those two cars -- that would be absurd. Each has its place and purpose. Sometimes you want a pair of Cole Haan peep-toe sling backs with five-inch heels (or I would, anyway, as long as I didn't have to walk far). But some days, what you need are Dansko Professional clogs: comfortable, unassuming and sure-footed. Yesterday, the Mazda 3 was the shoo-in.
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @ 12,769 miles
July 30, 2012
I'll get right to it: The Mazda 3's air conditioning doesn't cut it. Not even close. SoCal had mid-80-degree temperatures last weekend -- not that hot by desert standards -- and we spent a lot of time being uncomfortable. I'm not the first to notice this, either. This is a hot topic in Edmunds forums and it's been mentioned by commentors in previous blogs.
The system needed about 15 minutes of driving time to drop the 3's interior temperature to comfortable levels. Bring it to halt and the cooling efficiency drops significantly. I suspect if it were 100 degrees, it wouldn't be able to keep up at all. We owned a first-generation Mazda 3 which suffered the same problem, but we kept that car for five years in this climate and I never remember being this uncomfortable.
Josh Jacquot, Senior editor
July 05, 2012
Just spent a couple days in our long-term 2012 Mazda 3, and it's a nice car to have when you've just moved to a new place, as all manner of small home improvement projects immediately suggest themselves. The day before the holiday, I had to run an errand to San Diego, and I hopped in the 3.
I noticed the loose driver seat when accelerating from stoplights (and if I'm honest, the slightly delayed throttle response when diving for holes in traffic), but overall, I was pleased with the Mazda's long-haul potential. For sure, the ride is on the firm side, and it feels firmer over certain freeways (the ones that haven't repaved recently), but it's just compliant enough to keep me content. The cabin isn't super quiet for a budget hatchback, but again, it's quiet enough.
Sometimes -- usually when merging onto freeways via a short onramp -- I'd wish I could get a little more torque from the direct-injected 2.0-liter engine, but then, the six-speed automatic would give me such a nice, prompt downshift, it was hard to dwell on any deficiency in grunt. If I had to get to an automatic transmission in a compact car, this would be it.
There weren't any interesting roads along my route, but I like that I didn't spend much time thinking about the steering and the brakes -- because they're pretty much exactly how I'd want them. Brake pedal feel is good, and the steering feels nice and stable on-center and appropriately quick and precise off center.
What I like least about our Mazda 3 is the driving position. It has nothing to do with the funky seat issue, rather it's the positioning of the seat relative to the steering wheel. Our car has power driver-seat adjustments so there are plenty, but the steering wheel doesn't telescope quite enough for optimum comfort. It's not a big deal, just something I noticed during half a day in the car.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 11,928 miles
June 21, 2012
Getting in and out of the Mazda 3 is easy for me. There is ample room and the leather seats don't hold onto my clothes like cloth seats normally do. So I can slip right in.
But not so easy for a friend of mine. He's 6'1" and threw his back out. Getting out of the car was no problem for him. But lowering himself into the Mazda 3 was quite painful.
You see, the Mazda 3 sits low and getting into the seats for someone taller than me and with a bad back wasn't easy. I know this is a specific problem but one you should consider if you have chronic back troubles. A low car is not your best choice.
As I mentioned in a previous post, some of the older residents on my street have been asking me about the Mazda 3. They also ask about other small hatchbacks like the Acura ILX, Ford Focus, Volkswagen GTI, etc. These types of vehicles seem to be gaining popularity with empty-nesters. I can see this low entry point being an issue with them, too, as some of them have mobility problems.
This is why you should always physically go on a test drive. You never know how the car will suit you until you try it on for size.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 10,809 miles
June 13, 2012
I am grateful for the low effort required to open and close the Mazda 3's doors. They swing open really easily (but not so easily that it feels out of control) and don't call for a lot of muscle to close. This is really helpful to me because, more often than not, I've got my hands and/or arms full of kids or kid stuff when I'm trying to get into or out of a car.
Just because it's easy to open and close the doors, don't assume that they feel cheap or flimsy. They don't. And they make a good, solid sound when they shut, too.
Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com, @ 10,566 miles
June 01, 2012
Last week, I wondered whether our Mazda 3 was a car fit for a long road trip. After driving it to and from a driving event called Heels and Wheels this week, I've concluded that it's excellent company for a quick 200-mile round-trip journey.
Our Mazda 3 is maneuverable, energetic and comfortable. The controls are within easy, intuitive reach, whether for climate control or radio/satellite nav. There's power enough to pass, and enough acceleration to keep a good speed up the long, slow hills that Interstate 5 presents between San Diego, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. People drive 80 to 85 here, when the CHP isn't around.
It was too early in the morning to realize it Thursday morning, but my drive took me along El Camino Real: the King's Highway. This backbone of the California transportation system had its beginnings in the1700s as a footpath connecting the missions, running from San Diego to Sonoma. Portions of it live on in U.S. Highway 101 and Interstate 5. My parents took me to every blessed mission when I was kid. I loved them all in their crumbling, gessoed glory.
My favorite part of this drive, on and off El Camino Real, is through Camp Pendleton, where young Marines blast along the road on motorcycles or Chargers or Camaros, dressed in camo and hell bent for speed. Every time I pass Las Pulgas Road, I wonder who decided to name a place in honor of fleas. I used to think it was the Marines. Now I know it was the missionaries.
I flick the accelerator, and a splash of sun parts the clouds. Just another couple hours until Im home.
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @10,205 miles
April 25, 2012
Parents or potential parents should consider this when shopping the Mazda 3. Rear-facing child seats are massive. Their depth consumes considerable longitudinal space. So much so that with this child seat behind the driver's side I can't access my preffered seating position. I'm only 5'9" but I've got a 32-inch inseam. Anyone exceeding those dimensions will have bigger problems.
Of course, had I actually engaged my brain, I'd have put the rear-facing seat on the passenger side where my 5'4" wife sits. That is, after all, what we did when we owned one of these cars.
Anyway, it can still be done. I sacrificed a few inches of legroom, but I managed. Even so, that kid looks none too thrilled.
Josh Jacquot, Senior editor
April 25, 2012
Out of the cars currently in our fleet, I'd say our 2012 Mazda 3 Skyactiv is my favorite for getting around the city. Sure, the A8 and the X3 (cars I know won't likely be cross-shopped with this hatch) are plush and luxurious but the Mazda 3 is the right size for going down narrow streets and alleys and it's not as terrifying to maneuver in crowded parking garages. Like our Camry, it's well damped for negotiating those pothole-filled alleys and gets decent gas mileage but it's also actually fun to drive.
It's really suited to my lifestyle as a single city dweller who likes to save money on gas but still wants fun doing it.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
April 09, 2012
I've decided that for my purposes, the current-generation Mazda 3 hatchback is a lot more practical and desirable as an urban/suburban everyday run-around car than a lot of other cars, both smaller and larger. I would, for example, choose the 3 over our Fiat 500 or our Chevy Sonic -- solely for its great rear visibility.
The Mazda has a large rear glass area, and it extends farther down on the tailgate compared to most other hatches (500 and Sonic, included).
The advantage here is obvious. It's a lot easier to see out the back of the Mazda, so it's easier to park it. And I notice this every time I drive the Mazda.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 7,738 miles
March 15, 2012
It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to actually reach the speed limit on my commute home. I took advantage of this rare occasion and grabbed a quick video of our long-term Mazda3 SkyActiv's ride on the notorious stretch of 405 South. Its uneven concrete slabs and corresponding seams are very evident, to say the least.
Make the jump to watch and hear the thumping the Mazda takes...
Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 6,339 miles
January 17, 2012
I spent the weekend in our 2012 Mazda 3 Skyactiv-G and put mostly freeway miles on it. I like the way our car rides. It's highly controlled. No matter what kind of pavement you encounter, the suspension is able to cope with it. It never gets unsettled, and this builds up your confidence. No other car in this class feels this good.
However, I'll admit that the setup on our i Grand Touring model (with P205/55R16 89H Bridgestone Turanza EL400 tires) toes my personal threshold for ride compliance. Which is to say, it's great the way it is now, but I wouldn't want it to ride any firmer than it does now. (Which makes me a bit of hypocrite, given how I loved on the stiff-riding Mazdaspeed 3.)
After renting a Ford Focus SEL hatchback (seen after the jump parked outside an atmospheric Microtel at night) last week in Michigan, I can understand why someone might drive both of these cars and prefer the Ford's slightly cushier ride. Arguably, the Focus feels more luxurious, though less fun than the 3.
Still, for a personal vehicle, I'd go with the Mazda, as I prefer its sharp-shifting six-speed automatic to the Ford's dual-clutch box, along with the freer-revving character of its newer engine (the Focus 2.0-liter is based on the old MZR motor that's still the base engine in the Mazda 3). Also, I'm not really a fan of the Ford's electric power steering -- not enough feel and I found myself making tiny on-center corrections on I-94 and U.S. 23.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 4,050 miles