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trarmstrong
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Discussion Starter #1
Here it is..... Car Model Review


For those who don't subscribe, here's the low-down:

Why buy one:
Fun-to-drive with agile handling
Very fuel efficient without the added cost or complexity of being a diesel or hybrid
Has high-end features, like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, that aren't common in this class
Super-slick manual shifter
Automatic transmission is no slouch either
Mazdas tend to be very reliable

Why not buy one:
Somewhat noisy
Suspension a little jumpy
Lots of other small cars are roomier
The hatchback has limited rear visibility
The basic radio is difficult to use with music players
The Mazda Connect infotainment system can be distracting

Viable alternatives:
Volkswagen Golf
Subaru Impreza
Ford Focus (but it's been unreliable)


Score: 78/100 RECOMMENDED - behind the VW Golf and Subaru Impreza, however.
 

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I miss the good old fashion radio preset buttons. Wish they'd get rid of that useless passenger airbag light, and stuff it with 10 radio presets, and audio mode/seek buttons!
 

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Consumer reports does not rate the importance of good driving high on the list. They are more into safety, ride, and size.
 

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LOL Subaru Impreza.. I used to love Subaru's but the interior quality and exterior looks of that car are just in a lower class.
 

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So the "Fun-to-drive with agile handling" note at the very top of their pros list was a typo? The pros/cons list seems pretty dead on to me.
They do note the fun driving characteristics, but I've certainly noticed that when you talk the final point score, fun driving seems to not figure in as much. To my own eyes, the pro/con list and final score don't really match up well. Of course, everyone likes different things, and reviewers approach things differently. I know I personally like the consumer reports reviews because it provides a different perspective from most car reviews which over-emphasize performance. You read consumer reports knowing that functionality, ease of use, reliability, and roominess are king.
 

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First, how is the infotainment center distracting? Are they crazy? It is in the field of vision without blocking it, meaning to look at it is LESS distracting as your eyes don't have to move as far. Maybe it's distracting if you're 80 and don't know what a touch screen is (Consumer Reports' main audience?). Ok, that was a little mean, but whatever.

Also, no mention of how good it looks (at least in the summary). The new 3 and Subaru Impreza really aren't in the same solar system when it comes to exterior aesthetics. To some, the Subaru might be preferred, but only if you prefer blandness. And the interior is better on the 3 too. But like other people have said, Consumer Reports tends to focus on reliability and practicality; they may mention driving feel and aesthetics, but it's really not the focus like in car magazines. Several car magazines have awarded the new 3 either car of the year or top in its class. And obviously we like it :)

I think for the most part, Mazda isn't on the radar of most car buyers unless they have driven one before, or like cars that are fun to drive. It's kind of sad, but it is what it is. In any case, being such a high recommendation from Consumer Reports is great for Mazda. They did a great job balancing safety and fuel efficiency with performance and aesthetics on the new 3. They missed out a little on interior space and visibility, but no design can be perfect.
 

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Going through this list, I'd disagree with most of it:

Why not buy one:

Somewhat noisy:
I get that its not luxury car quiet, but I've been in the other cars in this class and there is not much difference between them. If this stops you from buying the 3, you should not be looking at compact cars.

Suspension a little jumpy:
No, it is slightly on the stiff side, but controlled. It's just not like driving on marshmallows. Jumpy implies that its bouncing around and losing control. Not true about this car at all.

Lots of other small cars are roomier:
I'm very tired of this critique about the 3. Yes, by the spec sheet, SOME other compacts have more room in SOME aspects of space. But in ALMOST ALL cases the differences are miniscule. (stuff like and extra 1/2" of legroom or 1 extra cubic foot of cargo space.) My 6" son has no trouble sitting in the back seats. My hatch has more cargo space than a MAZDA 6. Generalizations like this are from folks who are comparing stat sheets and not real world results. If interior space would kill a MZ3 purchase then you need to be looking at a midsize or larger vehicle.

The hatchback has limited rear visibility:
I'll give them this one. Doesn't bother me; as, I have my side view mirrors and blindspot monitoring to help out, but I could see how some folks might not like the hatch window size. If this would be a safety problem for a buyer, then definitely skip the MZ3.

The basic radio is difficult to use with music players:
I've had zero problems with the basic radio. I've paired my iPhone with it and have been playing everything from iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, different podcast apps, etc. Maybe they are lamenting the fact that you have limited control from the radio? (You just get forward and back buttons, plus volume control obviously. Anything more and you've got to use the phone.) If you don't like that then get the tech package. Not buying a car because of the stereo? Kinda silly.

The Mazda Connect infotainment system can be distracting:
OK, I think this one is utter nonsense. Anything you do in a car besides driving is distracting. Good grief. Passengers are distracting. I didn't get the tech package, but distraction was not the reason. (It was just too expensive for mostly stuff I didn't want.) This complaint is just a complete reach.

I'm not going to fault their rankings, because I've no idea what they praised or dinged the other cars for as well. I just found most of their complaints about the MZ3 to be pretty lame or even misleading.
 
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So the "Fun-to-drive with agile handling" note at the very top of their pros list was a typo? The pros/cons list seems pretty dead on to me.
As @LilyBear says, the statement is there but if you take a look at the elements they rank, you won't find it. How much would you rank how the car drives? I'd give it 1/3rd weight but at least I think it should be 25% of the rankings. Not to include it at all except in the "pros" makes little sense.
 

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The complaints are about right. CR reviews for people who don't care about cars -- they just want space, music, airbags, etc. I don't have anything to say about the infotainment system but the space and visibility are huge ones. The new Impreza is basically mid-sized in the back seat, which is pretty impressive. It's roomier even than the Gen 2 Mazda3 which IIRC is roomier already than the Gen 3. The Gen 3 hatch I drove is on par with the Elantra for rear visibility which is unfortunate.

"Marshmallow" ride is what 90%+ of folk describe as comfortable. So any car that's not a marshmallow is going to be jumpy, hence Mazda does not do well in the North American market -- we as a consumer population suck. Hopefully with the CR nod you'll have more sheeple willing to overlook the jumpy ride and enjoy the 3 for what it is, a solid, practical machine that will keep you alive when you're in trouble.
 

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My previous car, a 2004 Prius, also had what Consumer Reports called a distracting radio system. If I reevaluate correctly, CR's issue with the Prius was that there was too much having to dig through menus to get to basic functions, hence a greater distraction. I'm willing to bet they see that same issue in the 2014 Mazda3, and that's what they mean by distracting. I can agree with them to an extent, but I think that within a few months it's a moot point because of how well placed the command knob and other buttons are. Just need to get used to them.
 

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CR is certainly within their rights to have negative opinions, but I take issue with this list. IMHO, with the exception of the hatch visibility, they range from insignificant to misleading. And certainly none of them are reasons to pass on a Mazda 3 purchase, except for the visibility issue.

And even if we change this from a buy discussion to a simple dislike list, I question that any other car in this class would significantly address this list of complaints. Face it, compact cars are are all pretty similar wrt size and features with slight variations. Calling any of these out as weaknesses is hyperbole. Styling and driving performance are about the only significant differentiators.

I guess I wish the "Why not buy one:" list had focused more on specific defects or significant deficiencies, and not stuff you could attribute to just about any compact car.
 

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Why not buy one:
Somewhat noisy
Suspension a little jumpy
Lots of other small cars are roomier
The hatchback has limited rear visibility
The basic radio is difficult to use with music players
The Mazda Connect infotainment system can be distracting

I can fix the noisy problem with new tires.
Suspension feels awsome.
It's a small car, and it's works great for us average height guys.
I got the sedan and it has great visibility compared to other cars i test drove.
Basic radio lookes cheap and lacking features.
The Mazda Connect system is perfect to me I do hope the software improves.
 
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