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Discussion Starter #1
I currently own an 03 IS300 and looking to get a Mazda 3 Sedan with AWD. I stopped by at dealership nearby and took one for test drive. Here are my thoughts.

1. Acceleration is a little faster than my Lexus which is perfect for me. Paddle shifters worked pretty well and the logic seems to be in the right gear most of the time.
2. I thought the handling was very good for a car of this class. A tad jittery in the back become of the Semi Independnt Rear Suspension but nothing that wasn't liveable. I'd replace the tires with a Michelin or BF Goodrich Ultra High Performance All-Season then put the OEM's back on when I turn it in.
3. Bose stereo sounds pretty solid. I have an after market in my Lexus with an Kenwood 4 channel amplifier, Kenwood mini powered sub under the seat and Kenwood Excelon speakers. I thought they were pretty close to comparable
4. Leather seats were very comfortable and the heat was fantastic helping me relax.
5. The Hud projecting the MPH on the glass was a bit distracting but I got used to it and it helped keep my eyes on the road.
6. I'm 6' 2" and there is only an inch or two more space in the rear then my Lexus. Not something I worried about but for tall people something to think about.
7. AWD really helps keep this car planted compared to the FWD car which I drove two weeks ago.
8. I do like you can turn off most of the safety features.

After the test drive I felt it was really damn close to my IS300 in fun to drive, acceleration, stereo and not being a very large vehicle. I plan on leasing sometime this year with the thought of purchasing it once it comes off lease or jumping up to the Mazda 6 AWD once my lease expires. Overall I believe it needs more rear seat leg room. Give it another 2 inches and for god sakes get rid of cylinder de-activation on the sedans. This is one thing keeping me from signing the papers.
 

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I agree it could use an extra inch or two of rear legroom. The new generation may have even lost a smidge of space vs. the Gen 3.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I agree it could use an extra inch or two of rear legroom. The new generation may have even lost a smidge of space vs. the Gen 3.
I think it has. Not sure why. I wouldn't be surprised if the next generation adds 2inches in length to get more back seat rear space and maybe adds back in a multi-link rear suspension with a little bigger trunk to compete with the Corolla and Civic.
 

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I agree the legroom is a little scarce. But it's a compact car. This is how each car line grows gen to gen and compacts become midsize. The car makers are only responding to their clinics where the response is "if only it had a little more room" It's already the same length as 1990's 626 which was considered midsize. The same has happened to the Civic vs the Accord.

If you need a midsize, buy a midsize. The 3 has enough leg room for an average height male to sit behind an average size male for a trip across town. Please Mazda, if you can make it more space efficient without making it into a box (Golf) fine, but please do not make it bigger.

The multi link would be nice but keep in mind it comes along with substantial cost and weight penalties, both of which could be recouped by deleting the blasted mandatory sun roof in the upper trim levels. That would leave a roomier interior as a bonus.
I wonder how many pause to think that hole in the roof adds 60+ lbs in the worst possible location. Dynamically equivalent to driving around with a bag of cement strapped to the roof.

Many reviewers dis for mazda for not installing panoramic sunroofs which add 120 to 200lbs. Dumb.
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I've pulled in some numbers and here's how Mazda3 hatch stacks up against a couple of other cars where almost no car journalist I have seen even mentioning anything about rear space:

Car length:
  • BMW 3 series: 185.7
  • New Acura TLX: 194.6
  • Mazda3 hatch: 175.6
  • Lexus IS: 185.4
Front legroom:
  • BMW 3 series: 42.0
  • New Acura TLX: 42.4
  • Mazda3 hatch: 42.3
  • Civic hatch: 42.3
  • Corolla hatch: 42.0
  • Lexus IS: 44.8
Rear legroom:
  • BMW 3 series: 35.2
  • New Acura TLX: 34.9
  • Mazda3 hatch: 35.1
  • Civic hatch: 36.0
  • Corolla hatch: 29.9
  • Lexus IS: 32.2
Rear headroom
  • New Acura TLX: 36.3
  • Mazda3 hatch: 37.2
  • Lexus IS: 36.9
Combined legroom (in asc order):
  • Corolla hatch: 71.9
  • Mazda CX3: 76.7
  • Lexus IS: 77
  • BMW 3 series: 77.2
  • Mazda 3: 77.4
  • Honda Civic sedan: 79.7
  • Mazda CX5: 80.6
  • Mazda 6: 80.9
  • Toyota Avalon: 82.4
 

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I agree the legroom is a little scarce. But it's a compact car. This is how each car line grows gen to gen and compacts become midsize. The car makers are only responding to their clinics where the response is "if only it had a little more room" It's already the same length as 1990's 626 which was considered midsize. The same has happened to the Civic vs the Accord.

If you need a midsize, buy a midsize. The 3 has enough leg room for an average height male to sit behind an average size male for a trip across town. Please Mazda, if you can make it more space efficient without making it into a box (Golf) fine, but please do not make it bigger.

The multi link would be nice but keep in mind it comes along with substantial cost and weight penalties, both of which could be recouped by deleting the blasted mandatory sun roof in the upper trim levels. That would leave a roomier interior as a bonus.
I wonder how many pause to think that hole in the roof adds 60+ lbs in the worst possible location. Dynamically equivalent to driving around with a bag of cement strapped to the roof.

Many reviewers dis for mazda for not installing panoramic sunroofs which add 120 to 200lbs. Dumb.
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Agree. In our Cdn. spec trim -- 3 Sport (hatch) GT/Premium -- one has to have the d__n sunroof to get the other stuff one wants. Been the same through all 4 Gens, iirc, and on our first Mazda (03 Protege 5). On our '19, I'd gladly have exchanged the sunroof -- which we have never used on any of 'em since '03! -- for the front parking sensors. I get that it's a cost-saving 'packaging' decision by Mazda, but still ...
 

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As far as cylinder deactivation, I have a 2019 3 hatchback AWD with it, and to be honest I don’t even notice it’s there. I cannot tell when it’s activated, and in fact I usually forget the car even has it. Of all the other things you like about this car, I wouldn’t let the CD dissuade you.
 

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I think it has. Not sure why. I wouldn't be surprised if the next generation adds 2inches in length to get more back seat rear space and maybe adds back in a multi-link rear suspension with a little bigger trunk to compete with the Corolla and Civic.
Be honest here, who even can tell the difference between multilink and semi-independent rear suspension? In normal driving, no one would know unless they’re told that the 3 isn’t multilink. I can’t tell, and I still get a little spirited around the curves from time to time. It’s bragging rights, just like having a top end of 180 vs 150 — the vast majority of drivers wouldn’t ever know the difference 99.99% of the time.
 

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I used to be fussed what the specs say on paper (e.g. like multilink versus twist beam). Not any more. I care about what the empirical results are, i.e. what it's like in practice versus in theory. The rear suspension for the 3 is like that for me.

Oh, BTW, if you are at all familiar with the Alfa Romeo GTV6 and similar chassis offshoots (though they have rear wheel drive): the Alfa has DeDion rear suspension... which is semi-independent. It generally is acknowledged to have one of the best suspensions of any car out there...and the proof is in the pudding. It is not a fully independent suspension and it is by no means a multilink. It is in part considered to be so good due to low unsprung weight and due to its ability to keep the wheels perpendicular to the ground... both of which could be said of the '19+ Mazda3...
 

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Be honest here, who even can tell the difference between multilink and semi-independent rear suspension? In normal driving, no one would know unless they’re told that the 3 isn’t multilink. I can’t tell, and I still get a little spirited around the curves from time to time. It’s bragging rights, just like having a top end of 180 vs 150 — the vast majority of drivers wouldn’t ever know the difference 99.99% of the time.
This is one of those things where we are being told it doesn't make a difference and most just accept that because the internet says its so. However, there are those who know better.....
When driving my car back to back with a 2020 GT AWD hatchback on the same roads on the same day it was real easy to tell the difference. The 2020 car was noticeably more twitchy and bouncy at the rear. There were a couple bumpy corners where the 2020 car nearly had the rear end bounce across the center line (went back did it more than once just to make sure it wasn't an isolated incident 😮) whereas the 2016 car didn't even flinch, and that wasn't even going terribly fast....so yes, if you are just doing mindless commuting you'll never know the difference, but you'll also never know why the multi link was better....
 

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Let's just lay it all out. A twist beam does impose some limitations but it's not all negative either.
According to Wikipedia.
Advantages:
  • Low cost
  • Can be durable
  • Fewer bushings than multi-link suspension that are less stressed and less prone to wear
  • Simple
  • Neat package, reduces clutter under floor
  • Fairly light weight
  • Springs and shocks can be light and low cost
  • May not need a separate anti-roll bar, as the axle itself may be made to perform that function, up to a point
  • Road handling can be excellent, often to the detriment of comfort (examples : Honda Civic Type R FK2, Suzuki Swift Sport, Renault Clio III RS, Peugeot 308 II GTi)
Disadvantages[edit]
  • Basic toe vs lateral force characteristic is oversteer
  • Since toe characteristics may be unsuitable, adding toe-control bushings may be expensive.
  • Camber characteristics are very limited.
  • Not very easy to adjust for reduced roll stiffness, but increasing is easily done by adding an anti-roll bar
  • Welds see a lot of fatigue, may need a lot of development
  • Not much recession compliance - can be poor for impact harshness, and will cause unwelcome toe changes (steer effects)
  • Wheel moves forward as it rises, can also be poor for impact harshness (this can be negated by designing the beam with the mounts higher than the stub axles, which impacts on the floorpan height, and causes more roll oversteer)
  • Need to package room for exhaust and so on past the cross beam
  • Camber compliance may be high
  • No redress for wheel alignment. Alignment geometry is factory-set and not generally adjustable. Any deviation from factory specifications/tolerances could mean a bent axle or compromised mounting points.
My personal take having owned both gens 3 and 4 is that handling is largely unaffected, but I definitely feel more impact harshness. Most of the handling complaints I see are with regard to bumps taken in a curve that seem to unsettle the back end. I can imagine that occurring though I do not hustle down bumpy roads, especially if they are curvy. If you do that often, this may not be the car for you.

Note, I was composing this post ahead of reading arathol's.
It seems it lined up pretty well with his.
 

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I've seen a couple of YouTube "car reviewers" which test drove the Mazda3, commented about the fact that it has IRS (they read specs of previous model) and then saying how good the car feels with IRS :D

There are other car makers which offer the same car with both IRS and no IRS (e.g. Mercedes A-Class, Audi A3, VW Golf, Ford Focus Mk4) and I haven't seen anyone saying they can feel a big difference.
 

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Rear wheel alignment likely can be adjusted (though it's a PITA) with rotary adjustable stub axle flange shim... but not toe-in independent from camber. Sorry, I don't know the correct term for those adjustable round shims... (often used for collision repair).
 

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I've seen a couple of YouTube "car reviewers" which test drove the Mazda3, commented about the fact that it has IRS (they read specs of previous model) and then saying how good the car feels with IRS :D

There are other car makers which offer the same car with both IRS and no IRS (e.g. Mercedes A-Class, Audi A3, VW Golf, Ford Focus Mk4) and I haven't seen anyone saying they can feel a big difference.
Yes, some of the youtubers are not so sharp. I have seen more than one refer to it as a "beam axel" leaving out the all important "twist". Everday Driver referred to it as a "solid axel"
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I think its a great car compared to the competition, it finds a middle groun compared to the Civic and Corolla and A class. This car has been out for 3 years now, they might able to smooth the suspension out a bit with some adjustments for 2022.
 

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I think its a great car compared to the competition, it finds a middle groun compared to the Civic and Corolla and A class. This car has been out for 3 years now, they might able to smooth the suspension out a bit with some adjustments for 2022.
I agree with that first part, and appreciate your optimism. But as you said the car has been out for 3 years now, so it seems unlikely they would suddenly discover a tweak to make a significant difference for a smoother ride without negatively affecting handling.
 

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Rear wheel alignment likely can be adjusted (though it's a PITA) with rotary adjustable stub axle flange shim... but not toe-in independent from camber. Sorry, I don't know the correct term for those adjustable round shims... (often used for collision repair).
This is the product for adjusting rear wheel alignment on a 2019+ Mazda3... EZ Shim. It's by SPC Alignment:

 

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Discussion Starter #19
I agree with that first part, and appreciate your optimism. But as you said the car has been out for 3 years now, so it seems unlikely they would suddenly discover a tweak to make a significant difference for a smoother ride without negatively affecting handling.
We have to remember this car is basically a commuter car and handles pretty well for its class. It would be different were it on something like the Genesis G70 platform or the future Mazda 6 platform. those cars are designed to handle really well with double wishbone front suspensions and multi-link rears.

Sadly, I think the the ICE engine will be dead in about 10 years with EV becoming the big thing now. Lets hope it falls flat on its face.
 

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We have to remember this car is basically a commuter car and handles pretty well for its class. It would be different were it on something like the Genesis G70 platform or the future Mazda 6 platform. those cars are designed to handle really well with double wishbone front suspensions and multi-link rears.

Sadly, I think the the ICE engine will be dead in about 10 years with EV becoming the big thing now. Lets hope it falls flat on its face.
Yes, right now electric cars are expensive but the trends are clear, as exemplified by the 5k price reduction for the refreshed and improved Bolt. Ice cars can can only get more expensive with performance and price suffering from ever tightening emissions standards and unfavorable tax treatment. Intense electric car development is just getting going while ice engines have been tweaked for 125 years or so. Potential is largely wrung out as they have become increasing complex and expensive to produce (Sky x).
With the coming of cheaper more energy dense batteries, even average performing EVs will eventually be faster than many high performance gas cars. I think it will not be more than 1/2 dozen years before electrics out number ice sales in the U.S. (sooner in Europe and China) and ice cars slowly fade away and become as irrelevant as steam cars.
Not so sure it's a bad thing.
 
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