I have had this car for a year and a half now and I really like it a lot. It feels like I'm driving a sports car because of the pep and the great handling. It has 90k miles on it and in the time I've had it I haven't had to do anything other than regular maintenance. It is very reliable and I don't mind that it doesn't get great gas mileage (I average 25 - 28 mpg with a mix of city/highway) because it is so fun to drive. The sporty/luxury mix is perfect.
In the snow and ice, one must be careful of the pep and be easy on the gas pedal when accelerating after stopping, but other than that, I've had no problems driving it in the snow.
I'm not quite sure if I would have been as happy with a lower level of trim, but since my concern was having a dedicated onboard GPS system as opposed to an add-on unit I found myself having to purchase my Mazda 3 with the Grand Touring option package. I thought leather seats (heated) were a waste of money until I used them for a while, then i found the material quality and features to be superb.
The upgraded Bose audio system is superb, out performing sound systems in many costlier cars I've been in. The four cylinder engine performs flawlessly and although it isn't the most powerful plant on the market it is adequate for the size of the Mazda 3, only being taxed when climbing long inclines. My car is equipped with the standard 5 speed manual transmission so I can't speak to how the 2.3L engine performs when backed by an automatic transmission. My only complaint about the powertrain is that the hydraulic clutch is too soft for my taste. Having other manual transmission cars with conventional and cable actuated clutches presents no problems for me, but after having owned my 3 since new in 2006 I STILL occasionally stall the car when coming off the clutch from a dead stop, making me feel like a newbie (which I certainly am not).
Above all, the BEST feature of this car, and another one I thought would be insignificant, are the rain sensing windshield wipers. A friend had told me that this feature on his BMW seems to think faster than he does, actuating the wipers when a truck splashed him in traffic. I didn't quite believe this until it happened to me, and I'll be damned, those wipers really DO come on at high speed just as your brain tells you to hit the switch. Having this feature in an economy classed car is fantastic, and needless to say I've been spoiled now and want these wipers in every car I own from here on.
I've driven 77,000 event free miles in my Mazda 3 with only oil changes and a set of tires in 50,000 of those miles. The front struts needed replacement around 50k along with the lower control arms, which I thought were worn out way too early. Shortly following those repairs the car needed rear brakes, and I changed the fine wire spark plugs at that time also because I feel weird letting them go to 100,000 miles.
Recently the car needed lower control arms again, and something in the rear of the car is making a clunking noise over bumps but I haven't been able to confirm what the cause is (maybe a rear control arm?). Overall this car is a solid performer, handling and braking very nicely, and returning great gas mileage when driven on the highway. As with the other Asian cars in my household I'm dismayed to find the rubber products like engine mounts and suspension components wearing too quickly, but guess this is how money is saved in the long run by car companies.
Buy a Mazda 3 and enjoy ease of parking, a decent hauling capacity, and the Zoom Zoom thrill of driving excitement while your money stays in your pocket as you avoid expensive repair costs.
This is my first Mazda that I have ever owned, and words cannot express how pleased I have been with it. I bought the car with 52,000 miles on it, and now have 180,000 miles. I have only had to put on one set of tires, 1 set of front rotors and 2 sets of front brake pads. Outside of that, just oil changes. This car has been very reliable in every aspect. I can honestly say that I don't have any complaints about it at all. I drive 120 miles round trip to work, and this car has been a joy. I avg 31-32 mpg with winter gas and 33-35 mpg with summer gas. I have been doing some early searching for my next car, and a newer Mazda 3 will definitely be on my list of vehicles to consider.
Great pick up for a 2.0 engine Just love the standard transmission feature (have auto transmission). Handles great and the ride is reasonably comfortable. Am getting good gas mileage - almost always 27 - 31 combo city and hwy - 30+ hwy only. Roomy for a little sedan.
Bought M3 back in May after trading 03 Civic EX Coupe. This is definitely the best compact out there due to the refined interior, impressive acceleration, and nimble handling. No other compact I've driven in this price range has the ability to "wow" me like the Mazda. My 5-speed Touring has leather, sunroof, 6-disc changer, and Sirius with an MSRP right at $20k. I've heard the factory tires do not last too long, but considering the way this car makes me want to drive, I can see why they do not last. Sure, the rear seat is small, but it is a compact. All in all, no regrets!