Tired of reviews from people who don't realize the full capability of the Mazda 3 S
written on 10-10-2011
I had been researching new cars under $25 grand for two close friends for almost the past two years. I had owned four new Mazda products in my life and had enjoyed each and every one of them. I had traded in my last Mazda, a 2000 Protégé ES, for my dream car which was the new 2005 Ford Mustang. Running errands on a day off during the workweek, I ran across a local Mazda dealership rotating their inventory on their lot. Someone was pulling a Crystal White Pearl Mica 3 S hatchback out of the showroom onto the lot. It caught my eye due to already having had the windows tinted. After finishing my errands, I headed back to the dealership and was approached by the sales lady while texting and sending pictures of the vehicle and window sticker to my friends. It was equipped with the Moonroof/Bose package as well as the 5-speed Sport Automatic transmission and had the black cloth interior. She talked me into taking it for a test drive even though I was not purchasing , only looking for my friends. needless to say, the test drive lasted over thirty minutes and consisted of various types of roads as well as taking it up on the interstate. As much as I had coveted my Ford Mustang, I was thoroughly impressed with the 2010 Mazda 3 S hatchback. So much so, that I left the lot in my new Mazda 3 S on September 8th of 2010. I have had my Mazda for over a year and waited until now, October 10, 2011 to write an accurate review. I have read many mixed reviews with, in my honest opinion, inaccurate information that I do want to clear up. First off, this is a COMPACT car. You need to sit in it, front and back to see if it is right size for you. There is no logical reason to try to put 10 pounds of lard in a 5 pound jar or to put a 12 foot tree in a room with an 8 foot high ceiling. Enough said. Second, it's not going to break the speed barrier. It has a 2.5 liter 152 cubic inch front wheel drive motor that only produces 167 horsepower@ 6000rpm and 168 foot pounds of torque @ 4000 rpm. Its a peppy 4-cylinder motor without a turbo. It will do 0-60 mph in approximately 7.5 to 8.5 seconds depending on having the manual or automatic transmission. If you "need" something quicker the MAZDASPEED 3 is the version for what you want with a turbocharged 2.3 liter 263 hp @5500 rpm with a 6-speed manual. Mazda has this covered for you. Do you really need something quicker? My 2005 Mustang with the 4.0 liter V6 with cold air intake got 17 mpg to 25 mpg and it was running around 225 horsepower at a curb weight of 3300 lbs. On the interstate my Mustang could keep up with a new 2010 Shelby Mustang at twice the price to it's owners dislike. This isn't the Autobahn, so once you are at highway speed a quicker 0-60 and higher top end is irrelevant. It has more than enough power to merge with traffic both on and off the interstate. On an emergency trip to our local vet hospital, I was more than impressed with not only it's speed, but also it's stability and handling. Third, gas mileage is rated at 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway for the automatic that I have. I only commute approximately 8 miles each way daily to work and the majority of the time I take the twisty back road where the trip is more "enjoyable". I average 25 mpg. I have gotten as high as 32 mpg on a trip with both interstate as well as bumper to bumper traffic to nearby Pigeon Forge in the Great Smoky Mountains. Curb weight for the Mazda 3 S hatchback with automatic is 3105 pounds. I am quite happy with my gas mileage with my Mazda. You can drive it like a miser or drive it like you stole it. Either way, I enjoy the ride. Fourth, complaints over the size of the NAVIGATION screen. Although mine does not have navigation, the Tom Tom as well as the Garmin have the same size screen. Mazda just places it in the dash for less glare. I can't see justifying the cost where it is included in a package. Fifth, speaking of electronic features in my Mazda 3 S and many car magazine editors reviews of those features, I just have to say this, you are totally unaware of just what all this car will do for you and you have too many cars to drive at one time. With the Bluetooth feature, it synced up perfectly and easily with my iPhone 3GS. Controls on the left side of the steering wheel will not only answer and disconnect the call for you, but it can initialize a call by voice commands by speaking the number or by programming in your favorite numbers to call. You can also increase or decrease the volume of calls as well as the audio system here. Criticisms over the USB being an extra cost option, with the iPhone it connects thru the stereo via the Bluetooth feature sounding as if it was hardwired into the stereo. There is also a button on the left side of the steering wheel to scroll thru your favorite channel settings next to the volume button. Sixth, winter traction in snow with the factory tires. I read so many negative reviews, I figured that someone, especially someone that worked for an automotive magazine would know how to effectively drive in the snow. Due to having 17 inch tires, snow tires in that size were not an option so I purchased a set of low profile tire chains for under $100. Needless to say, I did practice installing them so that I would be ready in case I needed them, which I do recommend. I did not have to use them when driving in 4 to 6 inches of snow. If you drive according to the weather and road conditions, you should have no problems getting to your destination in the Mazda 3.
This Atkinson cycle 2.5 duratec engine was originally only used in the 6 and Mazda filled the gap for 2 years with this engine / transmission ( auto ) until the release of the sky active engines which set every other manufacturer running scared . The volcano top proprietary intake system on the sky active launched Mazda into the stratosphere . That said - this duratec engine was still solid and built to last . Mazda used oem Dino oil in 2010 in this engine but I let it ride and get broken in until 10k then switched to Mobil- 5-20 after I determined the engine was properly seated ( same viscosity ) and have done so every 3-5 k miles - that's about 27 oil changes - then in 2011 same engine same car oem oil was full syn 0-20 !!! engines are simple - it's got a lifetime timing chain and self adjusting dohc so keep an eye on your easily replaceable air filter and the one external drive belt the turns your alt : ac compressor and you are solid . The most misunderstood part of any modern car in the automatic transmission service - most owners manuals say squat about thier maintenance- including this beauty - why ? Ok ... in laymens terms you have heat and pressure actuating the drive transfer ~ the fluid // if you abuse your transmission ,it will suspend particles off of the wearing transmission contact slip points and that " soup " will let the tranny continue to function until one day - kaput - anywhere from 75k -150k -but here's the real solution. - when you ask your service advisor what to do about flushing / replacing you will get the answer usually " well the owners manual doesn't ..." they look forward to replacing it instead - what you do -before you create that soup of particles , drive the car with respect and don't hammer it with full throttle acc , use common sense . Then before it's too late flush even when clean ( your advisor will say oh it's fine ) - not ! Full flush every 30k - about 150$ - just do it - keep it clean - they will try to scare you because they are scared and know if it's too soupy and you flush. ~ guess what - they gotta rebuild it hopefully under warranty - so engine / trans 101 done ~ this car was inherently designed to be low maintenance, but take pride in ownership and this body style ( 2010-2011 in now getting the attention. The pr spinners at Honda / Toyota wanted to snuff out -people sit and stare and my car and many so compelled come up and ask " what year is that and can I still find one ? " yeah good luck ~ they were underrated and an awesome value - you couldn't pry this car from my dead fingers .every car has an Achilles heel - this one is city mileage - good - poor ,,,, freeway great ! So I'm ok with that . But after 8 years what I love even more is not having all that interactive safety stuff that I think causes drivers to be anesthetized . Back up this. Blind spot that .. bs ...pay attention , now you can't find a car without that stuff ( of this caliber )- this is a drivers car ~ I've driven almost everything - Ferraris , bmws , mbz , and if given a choice for real world reliability , fun factor and practacillity ~ the bar was set high my Mazda this year - stunning - people often don't reckognixe greatness in vehicles until they prove themselves years down the road < Bmw 1969 2002 , 1987 Audi 4 Quattro , 89 VW gti to name a few - add this to that list ~ yes they still make Great cars , but they need to be very close to a dealer to keep running right - tsk tsk. ~ if you have one covet it - if you want one better adopt quick and give that love - it's worth it !
Yes its been 2 years since my 2010 was purchased as I traded my 2008 . This car has not failed to continue keeping me looking forward to my next drive . Its broken in properly as I polled the white tape off the paint myself with 2 miles on the odometer. I see people that have cars they complain about and usuall with a car this solid built 100% in Japan there 1 of 2 things going on here . #1 they work for Toyota or Honda and hate Mazdas becuase they rock the socks off those granny mobiles or you bought a Mazda with 10-15 demos thats been hammered into hell by the salespeople and non-buyers that just want to floof a new car and ruin the engine by doing so .These are top notch rides
I have revirewed my 2008 versus this 2010 and already have concluded it just that much better. I will focus on the passing of time,servicing and performance continuity. I replaced the Avid-Yoko's which I found on the harsh side like the previous 08-09 suspension set-ups but slightly more ameinable to all-around driving with a bias towards all-out sports car tuned firmness. I installed Bridestones new Pole Position S-04's and even though the overall tire is heavier at 70-90mph this car is silent and super-stable at 85 I'm turning 2900 rpms and its not even breathing hard -this damn 2.5 wants to be ridden to 120+ and sprout wings. Everyting else is tight and right ! Just oil/filter and gas .
I've really enjoyed driving this car. I've driven two manual hondas, one subaru and an old datsun. Never any clutch problems. My 2010 Mazda 3 had a tight clutch one day, and then in the course of a day and a half, the clutch engaged the gear only partially--losing power--and finally, with a snapping sound, no power at all. Miriam Stevens (at Mazda North America Customer Care) gave the impression that Mazda does not care about premature clutch failures on this car. I mentioned the many web-postings about customers with similar clutch failures that appear out of nowhere, ending in sudden failure. This issue is not the result of wear and tear. Want to call lawyer.
The trick here is to produce enough wheelspin to keep the engine from bogging down, but not too much to spin the tires needlessly. Shifter is smooth and accurate, but the throws are a little long. Some cam phasing apparent at about 4,200 rpm. Also, there's some sort of clutch damper (?) that smoothes/slows each upshift.
Amazingly consistent and fade-free brakes. Pedal effort is spot-on -- straight and steady stops. Some nosedive, but not too much.
Excellent balance on the skid pad with only throttle input needed to change direction and maintain arc. Steering could offer more feel and load-up. With ESP on, the brake application and throttle closing produced an identical 0.86 orbit. In the slalom, there's a useful amount of understeer built into this chassis, but it's a pretty fine line between chucking past cones and catching it with a "dab of oppo" and sliding right past the next cone. Excellent control and reflexes right at the limit. ESP on is a marvelous option to have.