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Discussion Starter #1
Test drove a 2017 Mazda3 grand touring last weekend and I was a little disappointed with the handling compared to my 2010 Mazda3i touring.

The 2017 had less lean and held its cornering line better, but it lacked the older car's responsiveness and readiness to change directions especially that first response to light steering input.

Any thoughts on this from those of you who have owned both cars?
 

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I had a '10 GT. Bought with 72k kms - was retired at 176k kms (not by choice)

I now have a '17 GT

Both are great handling cars. The 17 suspension is a little stiffer but is dampened very well and it takes a lot to unsettle the car. The '10 was a little softer and that may contribute to the difference in "liveliness" that you're feeling - that fact that it tipped in the corners a bit more, etc. I also found that in certain conditions the 10 got a little unsettled in the rear end when in certain situations while driving in a spirited manner whereas I haven't yet encountered it with the 17 - even on the same roads. I'm talking around a sweeping bend at mid to higher speeds where you hit a bump in the road the right way.

The steering on the 17 is a little stiffer as well, and the tiny bit of extra effort required may also be what you're feeling as a perceived reduction in liveliness. With that said the 17, although electric, is a very good electric steering system. It still has a feeling of accuracy and control to it, a feeling of it being connected to the car and it doing what you want it to do vs some other electric steering systems that I've driven where it's just a "wheel pointer".

Overall the steering and suspension are set up for people who really like to know what the car is doing while driving but is dampened well enough that bigger more jarring bumps are soaked up rather well vs breaking your back. Once I acclimatized myself to the difference between the 2 cars I really respected how well the new ones are set up.

If you can live with the slightly stiffer ride than some of the competition its a very engaging vehicle to drive and it handles very, very well. For me it's an improvement over the previous generation in every way. And that sport mode is A LOT of fun in the back-road twisties. :grin2:
 
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Demon Spawn
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I had a '10 GT. Bought with 72k kms - was retired at 176k kms (not by choice)

I now have a '17 GT

Both are great handling cars. The 17 suspension is a little stiffer but is dampened very well and it takes a lot to unsettle the car. The '10 was a little softer and that may contribute to the difference in "liveliness" that you're feeling - that fact that it tipped in the corners a bit more, etc. I also found that in certain conditions the 10 got a little unsettled in the rear end when in certain situations while driving in a spirited manner whereas I haven't yet encountered it with the 17 - even on the same roads. I'm talking around a sweeping bend at mid to higher speeds where you hit a bump in the road the right way.

The steering on the 17 is a little stiffer as well, and the tiny bit of extra effort required may also be what you're feeling as a perceived reduction in liveliness. With that said the 17, although electric, is a very good electric steering system. It still has a feeling of accuracy and control to it, a feeling of it being connected to the car and it doing what you want it to do vs some other electric steering systems that I've driven where it's just a "wheel pointer".

Overall the steering and suspension are set up for people who really like to know what the car is doing while driving but is dampened well enough that bigger more jarring bumps are soaked up rather well vs breaking your back. Once I acclimatized myself to the difference between the 2 cars I really respected how well the new ones are set up.

If you can live with the slightly stiffer ride than some of the competition its a very engaging vehicle to drive and it handles very, very well. For me it's an improvement over the previous generation in every way. And that sport mode is A LOT of fun in the back-road twisties. :grin2:
just a note all mazda 3 up to 15 where electro hydraulic steering meaning it has an electric pump that moves the fluid and provide extra pressure, the rack also has electrical components in it to aide with steering, such as sensors. so the 3 has always had a electric type power steering system, but still used fluid as the actual pressure medium until 2 year models ago. this system, I actually love as it is right on responsive, the pumps and racks are robust and quick to respond but you still get the older style feel to the steering, its not one finger can drive the car steering like many cars these days, those feel like appliances and are boring, instantly crossed off my list of cars. Hyundai elantra comes to mind here. its steering is light and disconnected no feel or feedback just a finger needed to hold it straight or even make most turns just to put pressure on the wheel, to make it do anything, this disallows feedback and sportiness. that feeling maybe what queen Elizabeth or your wife want in a car but car enthusiasts like many of us here are demand a good solid feel in the steering that responds and has weight to it. I have driven a new 17 gt as well and it did feel a lot different then the 11 gt and 08 touring i have experience with. but the 11 feels different then the 08 did too, even though it is basically the same car under the sheet metal, mazda tightened the steering on the 11 from the 08 which feels nice, they also seemed to tighten up the rear as the 08 would feel "hoppy" in the rear end when cornered hard but the 11 while still having a small bit of this does not do it near as bad or at near as low of a speed. the 17 does none of this, as i think they are using struts with a spring mounted above on all 4 corners now whereas the 04-13 have struts front and shock with separate coils on the rear. so that right there will feel different as struts tend to hold the car more stable in lateral maneuvers. simply for the fact they can articulate the joint on top and spread pressure over the spring instead of sending it to the whole rear end like the older ones, which where planted but the rear did tend to hop due to the force being pushed all down on the control arms, not articulated over a strut/spring combo, downside to the struts in the rear is they take up more room for trunk/hatch space and that's why mazda used the ford e link on the rear of the older 3s to save space in the trunk/hatch while still having as many connection points as possible to spread forces over, also because ford actually designed our basic suspension and chassis (Volvo did actually but they are owned by ford) the s40 and European focus are the same thing suspension wise as a mazda 3, though maybe tuned different and ride different. as mazda took the Volvo(ford) suspension and chassis put their own body and engines around it and took it to mazda raceway laguna seca and tuned it to their liking, they put their own struts, shocks, swaybars etc on it as the ones we have are thicker and more firm(lol) than the comparable ford and Volvo cars. ford knows mazda has talent in this, also in making great four cylinder engines that's why many fords have mazda built engines, and why my 2011 gt 2.5 had fomoco stamped on the spark plugs but ngk numbers as the vin code "5" engines are exactly the same as the fusion/6 engine and therefore got fomoco stamped over the ngk so that if it was used in a ford it had fords logo, the vin code "6" 2.5 has ngk stamped plugs as those where identical engines but only used in mazda products, however the fomoco and ngk stamped plugs are the same part #s and are the same plugs. (they don't say motocraft just fomoco, so easy to tell) if they said motocraft they would not be ngk and would have different part numbers stamped on them.

anyways the 17 3 also has the active suspension stuff mazda came up with as part of the continued skyactiv development meant to make the car work more as "one" so it has motor mounts and active components that adjust to how the car is being driven, it also reduces body roll, and bounciness, as well as reducing the need for as many driver adjustments while going straight (all mazdas marketing stuff but...) this is probably why you feel a huge difference in the feel of the way the car handles as the 17 3 adjusts constantly and has an eye to keep vibration and occupant disturbance down. whereas your 10 did not. i thought the new 17 gt drove fantastically and wish i could afford one. but ill have to hang on to the 11 a little longer. (not really a bad thing, as i love my 2011) the 17s have buttery smooth power delivery and hold the turns great it was much smoother than my 11 as well, the 11 has more gruff power delivery but feels almost as powerful (down about 18hp, and similar for torque) but the 17 did seem to get up and go more in the low rpm band whereas the 11 goes more in the mid rpm band, the 17 had more top end surge though and i think this was just due to its more powerful motor. but it defenitly has a different power curve as the torque comes early and hp late and mid lacks just a little (nothing major, and comparing to the 11 2.5 engine, not other cars) whereas the 11 2.5 seems to lack the very first burst of power but as you get near 2k rpm it comes on with force and pulls great till about 5k then just says im done and lets off but still goes to its redline fine. the 17 had great intial power then seemed to lack in the middle some but then felt as though it was more energetic to the redline then the 11 the 11 seems to want to stay below 5500 rpm more, and seems to be the most comfortable when pushing at that rpm range. this is probably due to less power and lower combustion ratio but i like the characteristics of the 11 2.5 its a unique engine that feels like no other 4 cylinder i have driven. but the skyactiv engines are also very very good and have great characteristics too. and a skyactiv 3 or 6 will probably be my next car, as i like the mazda driving experience and have since the 03 protégé 5, car may not have the most power like a sports car but its the most fun in its segment and probably as fun or more fun than many cars costing much more.
 

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@kms1990

While I appreciate your post and read through it all, some basic editing would go a long way to making it easier to read (punctuation, capitals, paragraphs). Just constructive criticism with that, no animosity.

With that said, the 17 has no "active" components in the suspension or motor mounts. What is has is GVC (G force Vectoring Control), which is subtle engine torque control to help transfer weight in the car fore or aft to increase cornering stability. It's done with steering and throttle position sensors but there's no actual active suspension measuring and adjusting in the dampers or mounts like in more expensive cars.

Someone really in tune with driving, who knows their car and the road they're on can feel this system doing it's thing in more aggressive maneuvers all while being completely transparent in everyday driving. Someone like my wife, however, who only really only knows when she likes driving a car or doesn't like driving a car has no idea what it does, how it does it, nor does she care because it all feels very "normal".

I know I can feel the GVC particularly in sharper corners with some speed, speedy corners with change in direction, or more aggressive throttle input in a corner. While there is no "hesitation" you can feel the car basically say "wait a fraction of a second right here while we do this the right way" where the car will instantly slightly dampen your throttle input to keep the weight transfer more forward in the car for a more neutral rotation around the corner vs pushing through the corner like a typical FWD car.

It's not as obtrusive as I've made it sound and you can only really feel it if you know what to feel for, what you're asking the car to do and what the car is actually doing. It really works quite beautifully.

I'm just an everyday guy, everyday driver who has a long commute and really enjoys the act of driving. I agree that GVC affects the handling and how planted the car feels through a corner, however it wouldn't mean anything if the suspension wasn't properly sorted first. I had driven 16's before buying the 17 and the ride and handling were still fundamentally better than the 10. They were very, very similar and if anything the 17 was just a tad more refined.

The 17 just added subtle automated weight transfer with the GVC on top of the already good platform that was the 16. GVC has nothing to do with how the car soaks up the big bumps so well while still letting you feel what's happening in the road under the wheels the rest of the time.
 
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Studum, good to know, I could feel it in my test drive as well, and sorry I typed my last post while doing too many things at one time so it got a little ranty and messed up. I am similar in driving style to you. though I may drive harder, I don't know. Anyways the 17 did feel very refined and I liked it the 04-13 do not feel very refined though they handle great. What's funny is that was about the only criticism the car received as it aged and was reviewed by "experts" and Mazda did a great job correcting it without leaving the car enthusiast or driving enthusiast wishing we had the old design. I like the way my 11 my old 08 and the new 17s drive they all feel different. 08 and 11 are similar but slightly different due to 2.3l in the 08 and 2.5l motor in the 11. Different motor characteristics even though they where the same block, more weight in the 11 etc. Plus the 11 is auto the 08 was manual that always makes a difference, prefer manuals, but could not find one in good shape or price range this time around (bought used) so had to settle with a fully loaded gt hatch auto. But my stipulation was if it is going to be auto, its going to be the bigger motor, as I don't want auto and no power. At least the 11 has manual mode, which is fun (i use it a lot as i can shift faster than the computer and at better points for power or economy if i want) but not close to the feel of a real manual, as there is no clutch and just pushing a lever up and down. my next one will probably be new if i can afford it, or maybe certified preowned but will be manual if they are still made.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I only had a 10 minute test drive on the 17 so possibly not long enough to make a good review. The 17 did for sure outperform the 2010's handling in everything but the very early steering input. But again that could be something I misinterpreted on the short test drive. A bigger after market sway bars may be a quick fix to tighten that initial numbness of feedback in the car. Good chance to purchase the 2017 next month. Though I am going to test drive the Civic Hatchback with a manual transmission first.
 

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The 17 did for sure outperform the 2010's handling in everything but the very early steering input.
It is possible that there is a simple reason for this. Tire pressures could be off, or the alignment could be better. If the tires on the car are anything like what came on the 2016 cars, that could very well be a problem too. Better tires can make a huge difference in steering feel - cheepo tires with squishy sidewalls < good tires with stiff sidewalls.:smile2:
 

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It is possible that there is a simple reason for this. Tire pressures could be off, or the alignment could be better. If the tires on the car are anything like what came on the 2016 cars, that could very well be a problem too. Better tires can make a huge difference in steering feel - cheepo tires with squishy sidewalls < good tires with stiff sidewalls.:smile2:
very true, the big thing i notice from my 11 to the 17 i drove was the way the rear end acted when hitting rough roads or big bumps, on the 2011 with shocks and separate coil spring between control arm/body the rear end feels as if it likes to be tossed around somewhat by rough roads and bumps ( i actually like it, gives the car character and makes the great handling more interesting) the rear on the 11 gets unsettled easier on the 17 it does not get disturbed as much and this is probably just due to using struts instead of shocks at the rear, they both handle well and the 17 definitely out handles the 11 That may just be feel and not actually do so, as i am sure with 70k miles my 11 has a looser steering/suspension system, though myself and a shop i know and trust checked the car over on a lift before purchase (they measured the balljoint play and tie rod end play etc for me, with me watching, and everything was in spec. But the 11 just seems to have that extra character with the rear hop, every car is slightly different even model years can be vastly different even if there was no redesign.

i love the way the 04-13 3s feel it rides harsh to some but personally i like it because it gives great feedback and feel on the road, tires have a lot to do with this though as the car had firestone firehawk wide oval a/s on it when bought and they road smooth over high speed bumps (tramlined bad though) but was bad over lower speed bumps and cornering felt bad as well as grip and brake feel they where a bad tire. i now have cooper rs3-a on it for about 1.5 weeks and the ride is way different (the coopers are 2.5 pounds ea tire lighter than the firehawks, firehawks where 460a a tires coopers are 500aa a tires both are 93w rated) anyways the coopers corner better and have a lighter feel in the steering and suspension. they get more upset on freeway bumps (i think because they are lighter) but are more complacent around town on bumps (no tramlining yet) the coopers make the car feel planted more though and hold the road great i tried to push them to the limit last night and could not get it 80mph around a turn rated at 30 that i normally hit at 55ish(nothing around to hit here, i know it well) and no squeal it just turned and threw the weight like a grippy tire would, it felt fantastic anyways i have a review thread on the tires so enough about them.

the 11 throws itself around more jerky where the 17 throws itself more "gracefully" if you will again the 11 seems to have the character i like while the 17 just feels like any other well appointed good handling little car (audi a3/4 come to mind) where you feel more isolated. i would probably get used to the 17 after about a week of throwing it around, the 11 feels more like man and machine the 17 feels more like machine doing everything if you catch my drift, kinda like manuals and autos being debated or basically like the 11 makes the controller take more control, like to get the most out of it you have to white knuckle and wheel it more and the 17 just takes care of it for you. of course this is pushing each car hard. i like white knuckling it sometimes and like a car that likes white knuckling like the 3 does, toss it in crank the wheel and make sure your throttle input is right for the corner.
 
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