November 29, 2010
You'll recall that I was all excited about going for one last drive in our long-term 2010 Mazdaspeed 3 over the Thanksgiving holidays. Well, I'm happy to report that I did indeed make the drive to Mt Palomar in San Diego County, California, and that readers stovt001 (2006 MX-5 Miata Sport) and liquoredonlife (2010 Mazdspeed 3 in Liquid Silver) were able to join us. Another reader and Miata owner, rdryder, had planned to drive with us but ran into a scheduling conflict due to my last-minute planning. Sorry, Mark. Randomly, we ran into another Liquid Silver MS3 on the mountain.
It was a cool day, but Mt Palomar is only about 5,500 feet at its summit so the roads (Highways S6 and S7) up to it were clear of snow, with just a hint of white stuff at the top. The S6 (aka, Palomar Mountain Road) is pretty much non-stop curves for 7 miles from California Highway 76 to the S7. It's not as tight and technical as our local playground, Glendora Mountain Road, so in a Mazdaspeed 3, you can pretty much use 3rd gear the whole way.
November 23, 2010
A while back I noted that our Mazdaspeed 3's navigation screen lacked contrast at night. At the time, I couldn't find an adjustment for brightness/contrast, only a night and day setting. I was stuck in stop and go traffic last night and while stationary, I found the elusive brightness/contrast sliders in the information preferences menu, not under the nav menus. Adjusting the screen for night driving, however, isn't as intuitive as I thought.
November 03, 2010
Looks like somebody in Mazda's interior design studio has a thing for Op Art. This form of art and fashion took place primarily in the 1960s -- no wonder considering its hallucinogenic vibe.
November 01, 2010
I couldn't resist the urge to dress up the Mazdaspeed 3 for Halloween. Abetted by my crafty neighbor, we made cardboard fangs and a tongue, and toyed with the idea of dipping the teeth in a little transmission fluid as a special effect, but decided to keep it simple.
October 28, 2010
Last night, the streets and highways around our Santa Monica offices were a mess. A truck driver had a medical emergency at the wheel and plowed into 18 cars on the 405 Freeway. On the other side of the same highway, there was yet another pileup. Surface streets were clogged as a result and I was stuck in the Mazdaspeed 3. Back in March, I noted how I disliked the MS3's touchy clutch, but I'd like to revise my position on this particular subject.
Chalking it up to acclimation or muscle memory, I've made peace with the Mazdaspeed's clutch takeup. Having the engagement point so close to the floor proved an asset in bumper-to-bumper-to-bumper-to-bumper traffic. It meant that my leg didn't have to travel as much to nudge it forward and the effort itself was fairly light in this range.
It took me about two hours to travel the 7 miles to get home. That made it the third worst commute, behind the President's visit back in August and when a massive crane fell across the same stretch of the 405 back in 2007. Next time, I'm taking a motorcycle home.
October 22, 2010
Like editor Erin Riches, I really like the soothing blue ambient light that shines down on the center console of our 2010 Mazdaspeed 3. It's just bright enough to give you an idea of where you put your phone, wallet, parking card but not so bright that it distracts you or ruins your nighttime vision...although red lighting probably would have been better in that case. Regardless, it's purty.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
October 21, 2010
Fall is here. That means no more driving home when the sun is still out. After I hopped into our Mazdaspeed 3 last night for the journey home, I decided to give the navigation a run through. My biggest complaint: the monitor itself.
Strike One: It's small. About the same size as my iPhone screen. It's also placed a little too far away for its size.
October 18, 2010
Last Friday I took our Mazdaspeed 3 in for its 20,000-mile oil change and tire rotation service. The resulting blog post was pretty routine until the post's comments section where I answered a question about whether we used regular oil or synthetic. I wrote synthetic and "5W20," which was listed on the service invoice. Well, liquoredonlife and ms3fun both caught this as the incorrect recommended oil for a Speed 3.
In fact, the recommended oil is 5W30 (the "30" meaning it has a higher temperature threshold). I looked in the manual to make sure. 5W20 is the recommended oil for regular Mazda 3s, but not the Speed. Then the question was: did the dealer use the right oil in the car and just misprint it on the invoice? After all, "5W30" is printed on the oil filler cap and the Speed 3 has a big, honkin' intercooler on the top of the engine to remind people it's no ordinary 3.
So I called the dealer and talked to the service advisor who wrote me up. He said he didn't know but would find out and call me back. OK, I said. I waited for about 30 minutes. Mentally, I was preparing for the situation where he might say that they did in fact use the right oil. But that was going to be unacceptable in my opinion; given the disparity, it seemed to me that the oil should be changed no matter what. Thankfully, when he did call back he said they did use the wrong oil. He apologized and asked when I could bring the car back. I'll be taking it back tomorrow.
It's annoying and a hassle. But I'm glad some owners caught this. Even if I owned our Speed 3 and knew 5W30 was the right oil, I might not have actually looked at the paperwork. Another reason to change the oil yourself?
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 20,422 miles
October 15, 2010
We cleared 20,000 miles in the Mazdaspeed 3 last week. Today it was time to take care of the 20,000-mile service interval. This required an oil change and tire rotation. I had a scheduled appointment at Lithia Mazda/Suzuki of Fresno, Calif.; service was prompt and courteous, and I was back in the car in about an hour. Total cost: 75.72.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
October 12, 2010
Over the weekend I took our Mazdaspeed 3 out to the countryside to visit a rural pumpkin patch with my three-year-old daughter. It was mildly amusing to pull up in the Speed 3 when all the other parked cars at the pumpkin patch were SUVs and vans. Unlike getting a Christmas tree, pumpkins don't exactly require much in the way of cargo space. But admittedly it would have been nice to have some sort of cargo net or the forethought to bring a box; the pumpkins I bought kept rolling around in the Mazda's trunk on the way home.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 20,223 miles