I had the s Grand Touring Hatchback Mazda3, and I only say "had" because I lost it in a flood this month. It was without a doubt the most fabulous car I've ever owned. Mechanically perfect, exceptionally safe, hugged the road like a warm sweater, comfortable, gorgeous - everything I wanted in a car. The basics were outstanding and the high-level bells and whistles were even better. The only problem I ever had was with the navigation system joy stick - it would, literally, intermittently stick and not allow me to input things, so that I couldn't finishing adding an address I wanted to navigate to. As many times as I took it to the Mazda dealership for this, it never did that for them - so it never got fixed. But that is IT for cons. It hauled a s***-load of stuff in the hatchback, while at the same time looking like a "poor man's BMW" in the interior. Beautifully appointed and the "cockpit" was intuitive (except for changing the time!) - everything was where you would expect it to be. This was going to be the last car I ever owned - and would have been, considering its reliability, if it weren't for the rains...
The old man would have loved the Mazdaspeed3, too, even though he was a Porsche guy. I bought my Gen 1 new in 2007. It just turned 96-thousand miles and I have loved each and every one of them, especially those on California's coastal mountain range. Many an older Mustang, BMW and Corvette has been surprised by this mighty mite.
There are 3 things every Speed 3 owner will need to deal with: smoke, the clunky 2 to 3 shift, and the rear bar which comes loose and needs to be re-torqued periodically (in my case, twice in 8-years).
First the smoke. The car was allegedly spec'd with the wrong size PCV. There are 2 fixes. First, run "the pill" or some sort of restrictor in the crankcase vent tube. Look up "the pill" online. It's made by a company in Washington, I think. Second, start running 10W-30 synthetic motor oil. No more smoke.
When you start hearing the rear bar "clunk" as you go over the curb into a driveway, it's time to have the dealer torque it town again. 20-minutes and no more smoke.
Finally, the 2 to 3 shift problem was supposedly fixed in Gen2 models. For Gen 1 you can go to more slippery transaxle fluid like Royal Purple or Redline and that will begin to mitigate the problem. Next fix would be a good short shifter kit at around $150.
Other than those things, it has been the most fun car I've ever had. The bright red paint is even more eye-popping than ever. I also had a Gen1 RX-7 with great red paint like this. Only complaint is that in order to replace everyday items like a PCV or thermostat, something big, expensive and time-consuming has to come off first...
Well, being a car guy I knew exactly what I was looking for when I began my car search. Manual transmission, plenty of power, but also utility for my new family. Test drove several cars that were almost good enough, but fell in love with this quirky turbo immediately. Mine is SUPER red with Mazda RX-8 wheels and looks very sharp. I have the Grand Touring package that comes with a super radio and other fun options. The price was right on, and the gas mileage can be as good as you want it to be, or as bad as your right foot tells it to be! Simply put, a spectacular vehicle that does so many things well. I can't wait to get off from work and drive it home!
3rd gear, enough said. I love the sporty seats and the "stealth factor." The red color is very nice, and the overall speed of the car is bonkers. I fully expect a ticket soon!
The shifter is the only thing that needs improvement. If I miss that 2-3 upshift one more time, I'm gonna go bonkers! Aside from that the only other gripe would be the fuel mileage and use of premium gas.
As a former owner of a Subaru WRX, there is much more car here for the money than with my beloved WRX at around the same cost. No turbo lag here. Very responsive to the pedal and the steering. This thing is fun to drive! Sleek interior design. From the console hosting auto temp regulators, auto wipers, down to the stitching on the seats, shifter, and wheel. Attention to detail. The computer will also tracks mpg, miles to empty and instantaneous mi/gal Not sure how useful instant mi/gal actually is but it's there if you like too much information. Adjustable headlights are standard. Again probably overkill but there if you are on dark roads and don't want to blind oncoming traffic.
Quick response and curve handling. Interior design and features. Bose stereo. interior design. (see above)
A bit noisy on bumpy roads/highways. Tires could last longer. Fifth gear is difficult to find sometimes making it easy to downshift to 4th when accelerating to 5th.
Why I won't buy another Mazda: Blown LF strut at 25,000 miles. Smoking turbo at 26,000 miles. The turbo was replaced, but now Mazda claims that the smoking is actually caused by an inadequate PCV system. Five months ago it was promised that a PCV revised system would be available in 90 days. Now Mazda is saying the fix won't be ready until March. Variable Valve Timing Actuator became noisy at 46,000 miles. At 51,000 miles the car is throwing a EGR flow insufficient fault code. This repair-$600-will be on my nickel as it seems that the EGR system is not covered by either the powertrain or the 49 state emissions warranties. RF strut is also failing. The worst automotive choice I've made.
Fix "on-off" clutch engagement. Fit a reliable engine. Fit dampers with a half-life of more than 25000 miles.