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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all,

I am a 22 year old who just got his first driver's license. I am in the market for a compact hatchback and I am strongly leaning towards the mazda3. A bit of background.

My total driving experience probably amounts to less than 200 hours behind the wheel of a car (maybe a little more) - most of that was 4 years ago, when I lived with my parents in the northeast. Now I live in the south. I recently did driving school for a second time and got my license.

Most of my driving experience has been in an Audi A4 (2004 model) - more recently I've been in a Nissan Versa (driving school, painful handling). Currently I am in a rental Hyundai Elantra for the next week or so.

I've been looking for a compact hatchback with decent storage space, excellent safety and strong handling. The mazda3 seems to fit all these requirements.

Most importantly, though, I need a car that will help me be a more confident driver. E.g. I don't just need a car that is safe; I need a car that I will feel safe in. I've been told I am a very alert and cautious driver, but I don't feel like one.

As mentioned, I am now living in the south, and I am frequently unnerved by how poorly and aggressively people drive in my area (we have one of the worst accident/traffic law violation rates in the country). Additionally, half the local population drives massive pickup trucks (again, unnerving).

Some questions:

* Does anyone know when the NHTSA crash test rankings for the 2014 mazda3 sedan are coming out? Why isn't the NHTSA doing a crash test of the 2014 hatchback (maybe off-topic, but who chooses which variants get tested)? Are crash test results for the mazda3 sedan relevant for the hatchback?
* Is the 2014 significantly safer than the 2013? (my understanding is that it's a redesign)
* Anyone have a (hopefully positive) story in which they got into a serious accident with a mazda3?
* Does anyone have a kid/young driver who is driving a mazda3? Is this a car that's suitable for a first time driver?
* Are there any safety features in the higher trim models/optional packages that I should look into? (money is not a big factor in my decision making process)
* I'm going to test drive a 2014 mazda3 i Touring tomorrow. Anything I should look for/pay attention to during the drive?
* The parking space at my apartment is outdoors, and I'm in a subtropical climate where it rains a ton. I've heard mazdas rust easy, is this a real danger?

EDIT: P.S. This may have been obvious, but I'm looking at an automatic - I wouldn't know a clutch from a parking brake.
 

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Well, there are some slight visibility issues with the A Pillars (the body piece between the windshield and side windows. and the visibility out of the back is not the best. that being said, cars like the i Grand Touring have awesome blind spot monitoring and back up cameras, flashing alerts on the mirrors when switch lanes and audible alerts too.

It is a very easy car to drive, it goes where you point it (especially since you seem like a very responsible driver) and once you are comfortable, will give you plenty of smiles and fun. the storage is AMAZING, with the seats laid down my german shepherd walks around the back comfortably.

I believe the higher trims levels add more safety features as well, you can check out a comparison on Mazda's website to see a difference between each trim level.

I love my s Touring and I like fun, agile and quick cars. my girl prefers safety, features and comfort. this car hits both of our desires right on the button. feel free to ask any questions you might have and good luck.

Also, where in the south are you? Im in Tx
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm in Louisiana.

I was somewhat confused about whether the i Touring has the blindspot monitoring. Mazda's website indicates it does, but my local dealer's doesn't (though I'm assuming Mazda's site is right and the dealer's is wrong).

Good to know about the storage. Do you think a bike could fit in there?
 

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Unless you have a really large road bike, yes. (which still might fit and I would be willing to take some measurements for you)

If you go to mazdausa and "build" your 5 door. when it asks you to select a trim package it thoroughly explains the differences between trim levels.

You're right the i Touring should have BSM which is a flashing indicator on the side mirror and a chime. The s touring or I gt also has rear cross traffic detection and a back up camera.

take your time and look at a few dealerships, I looked at dealers over 100 miles away (luckily found just what i wanted here in town)

the tech package is really worth it if you can afford an i Touring with it. any trim above that includes the majority of all features.
 

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As I have mentioned on other threads, the new golf / GTI are due any day now. I was waiting for those cars till I test drove the mazda. They should be very close in price (though different driving experiences). Eventually, I bought a mazda3 because (apart from being a fun easy to drive car) I just didn't feel like dealing with the potential long term maintenance headaches of european cars all over again.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Unless you have a really large road bike, yes. (which still might fit and I would be willing to take some measurements for you)
It's fairly standard sized (in terms of length it's on the short side). Thanks for offering, though.

If you go to mazdausa and "build" your 5 door. when it asks you to select a trim package it thoroughly explains the differences between trim levels.
Thanks, that's useful.

How's the nav? That's the main reason I've been considering the tech package.
 

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As I have mentioned on other threads, the new golf / GTI are due any day now. I was waiting for those cars till I test drove the mazda. They should be very close in price (though different driving experiences). Eventually, I bought a mazda3 because (apart from being a fun easy to drive car) I just didn't feel like dealing with the potential long term maintenance headaches of european cars all over again.
having many friends with audi/vw cars, I understand the love of their quality. but you definitely pay for it in the long run.
 

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It's fairly standard sized (in terms of length it's on the short side). Thanks for offering, though.



Thanks, that's useful.

How's the nav? That's the main reason I've been considering the tech package.
To be honest, I dont use nav, im old. I look up the address on google maps and then i drive there, nav annoys me. my gf uses it but honestly we havent put it to the test fully.

The tech package brings a lot more to the table than just the nav though. the safety stuff, the bose system (9 speaker bose over 4 speaker stock) and tons of other fun do-dads. it would definitely help the resale value of the car if nothing else. I would suggest checking out a car with and without the tech package back to back. and while you do that, dont let the salesman distract you, youre going to own the car for the next few years. if these things dont interest you, dont let him sell you on it. It really makes it a different feeling car, even the dash and tach is different.

that being said, I dont think a car without the tech package is bad, just depends on what youre looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
To be honest, I dont use nav, im old. I look up the address on google maps and then i drive there, nav annoys me. my gf uses it but honestly we havent put it to the test fully.
lol. I don't think "old" people use google maps.

The tech package brings a lot more to the table than just the nav though. the safety stuff, the bose system (9 speaker bose over 4 speaker stock) and tons of other fun do-dads. it would definitely help the resale value of the car if nothing else.
Hm, I hadn't thought about the resale value. That's a really good point.

I would suggest checking out a car with and without the tech package back to back. ... It really makes it a different feeling car, even the dash and tach is different.
You mean, I should test drive both with and without the tech package? Or just check out both, drive one?

and while you do that, do not listen to a word of what the salesman says to you.
Yah, figured that one out already.

Unfortunately, the salesmen I've test drove with thus far have very easily been able to pick up on the fact that I'm an inexperienced driver. I'm a fairly experienced buyer/negiotiater in general (I occasionally handle big purchases at work), though.

The most annoying part is when they're talking about financing, as I'm probably going to buy up front in cash (which is something I'd rather not let them know about until I'm actually ready to talk numbers).
 

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lol. I don't think "old" people use google maps.



Hm, I hadn't thought about the resale value. That's a really good point.



You mean, I should test drive both with and without the tech package? Or just check out both, drive one?



Yah, figured that one out already.

Unfortunately, the salesmen I've test drove with thus far have very easily been able to pick up on the fact that I'm an inexperienced driver. I'm a fairly experienced buyer/negiotiater in general (I occasionally handle big purchases at work), though.

The most annoying part is when they're talking about financing, as I'm probably going to buy up front in cash (which is something I'd rather not let them know about until I'm actually ready to talk numbers).
I would absolutely drive the car youre going to buy, drive them back to back. seem like youre leaning towards the lower model.

never let them know how much you want to pay up front. try to get them to show you the invoice price. you can make them come down on the price (or remove entirely) of the nonsense charges they try to add on (paint protection etc). dont let them intimidate you. if you really push hard they will "turn" you to the sales manager. if it gets to that point have a specific number in your head ( tell him I want "$X.XX" including Tax Title License).

dont budge, they WILL NOT let you walk unless youre asking something crazy. its gonna take a few hours, with a bit of research (and your own financing ready to go) you dont have to worry about too much.

after all that you will see a finance guy, hes gonna try to sell you an extended warranty, this is also negotiable. consider the terms and what not. if you do buy it, make sure to ask him about the cancelation period. typically you have 30days to cancel it. this is pure profit for the dealership, but it isnt always a bad thing. youre gonna have to do some research on this on your own and see if it suits you.

and you got me, im not that old, but i hate my car talking to me.
 

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Intresting that even suggestions are very close.
I was going to mention VW for their know visibility and the power and feeling they give to the driver, and I was also going to suggest what they used to say back then, start with a crapy unsafe car to learn the drive.
However those days are gone. My first car was a VW, and what a car, IMO back then they were the leader by a big gap, and I could do any crazy thing I wanted and the car would handle it, then I bought a Mitsubishi Galant which had a softer ride, but the handling and braking were not their best, and I learned a lot from that car than anything else.
But now days with ABS, ESP, blind monitoring and what not, and considering that you live in south, and knowing how fast technology is improving, you dont really need to know when the car starts to skid and how to recover that, infact you dont really need to know how to keep your distance from the car head of you and keep your car in the middle of the lane, because most cars do that for you, and very soon they will be available on all cars.

Mazda 3, even the base model has enough techs to keep you safe, enough power to get you A to B in a fun way, and the brakes may not be the best ones ever fitted to a car, but enough to save you from emergencies.
Mazda 3 is a good car, its way better than what you get from Korea, and better than the most Japs and Americans. I do recommend them to almost anybody.

Again the new VW GTI is around the corner, which can fit right between the Mazda3 s and Mazdaspeed3. Has more power, maybe better quality, and maybe is a tad more road hugger than Mazda, and they are estimated to do around 30-44 mpg which will be even more efficient than the smaller engine Mazda. If I was shopping I would wait for that, but unless you are planing to get to know cars more and learn fixing them or if you have enough time and funds to not mind the extra running costs, I would not recommend them. Even if you want to learn more about engines and cars, a naturally aspirated Mazda is the way to start, as its less complicated than the turbo charged VW with possibly a DSG.
 

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Hello to another Louisianaian!

Here are some of my thoughts based on the discussion thusfar:

First off, my bike fits in there. I have to be a bit clever with getting it in, but it does. Would be easy if I took the front wheel off, but I've gotten it in intact.

Second, I think the big thing that would disqualify this car for younger drivers, namely thought getting the car from their parents, would be that some parents don't like the idea of a "sporty" car for their kids. Given how concerned you are about safety, I don't think you're the type of person to drive the car too aggressively, and in fact, the sportiness adds to the safety in my mind if you're a responsible driver. Better handling and a more responsive car only gives you more options for avoiding accidents.

Third, the backup camera is fantastic and a great safety/convenience feature.

Fourth, the models with the 16 inch wheels might be more forgiving if you're going to hit the curb more as a more inexperience driver, assuming you care about keeping the rims unscathed.

That's all that comes to mind offhand. I think small cars are fantastic for new drivers and I think it's pretty hard to make a bad choice so long as the car has good safety ratings.
 

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Have u tried driving something bigger? Suv, mid size suv. All you're previous cars have been a sedan. I havent driven a audi but nor been in the gen 3 mazda3 but maybe u feel less safe in smaller cars regardless of the technology it has. If u feel bigger on the road u might more confidence to move about.

Sent from AutoGuide.com Free App
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I test drove the mazda3 i Touring hatch today (with no tech package, dealer didn't have one). It was pretty fun. The driver's seat felt pretty roomy. The salesman wasn't too bad, he didn't really "sell" the car that much. Mostly he just shut up and let me drive.
 

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I test drove the mazda3 i Touring hatch today (with no tech package, dealer didn't have one). It was pretty fun. The driver's seat felt pretty roomy. The salesman wasn't too bad, he didn't really "sell" the car that much. Mostly he just shut up and let me drive.
I would definitely check out something with the tech package.

Even without it the 3 is a solid car. but if its your first you want to consider it an investment for many years.
 

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* Does anyone know when the NHTSA crash test rankings for the 2014 mazda3 sedan are coming out? Why isn't the NHTSA doing a crash test of the 2014 hatchback (maybe off-topic, but who chooses which variants get tested)? Are crash test results for the mazda3 sedan relevant for the hatchback?
Both Hatchback and Sedan share the same rating; the front structure is identical. Only difference would be the c-pillar construction that may lead to different roll over crash test scores but I'm sure Mazda didn't skip out of roll-over safety. The 3 received 5-stars from NHTSA.

* Is the 2014 significantly safer than the 2013? (my understanding is that it's a redesign)
It is safer, but not significantly. Both models offer the same amount of airbags and probably more or less the same front/side crash ratings. Only difference that I know of is the small overlap crash test where the new 3 aces the test. The old 3 wasn't tested and wasn't specifically designed for the small overlap crash test. Probably wouldn't be horrible with a small overall crash but you do see a difference with the new body structure.


* The parking space at my apartment is outdoors, and I'm in a subtropical climate where it rains a ton. I've heard mazdas rust easy, is this a real danger?
Rain won't be an issue. Older Mazda's used to rust a lot more due to a bad rear fender design, bad application of primer/paint, and lower quality sheet metal. They were also much more prone to rust in winter climates do to all the salt spread on the roads. The 3 new has a much better rear fender design, doesn't have the paint issue it used to have, and to my knowledge, has upgraded its sheet metal quality. And since you live in the South, you'll probably never have a rust issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Going in tommorrow to close on a soul red i Touring hatchback (no tech package, parents vetoed that).

I was going to go in today to finalize things and take it home, but it was pouring most of the day so I told the dealer I'd wait till tomorrow. While I was on the phone, they mentioned that they already had it detailed this morning and it would be waiting for me tommorrow. I'm a little bothered that they detailed it (although I think I neglected to tell them not to) - should I make a fuss about this? I've heard from various people/the internet that letting the dealer detail a new car is a bad idea.
 

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Just look over the car carefully before accepting it. you should be fine, they aren't going to intentionally ruin your car. accidents may happen though.

Congrats on the decision, the i Touring is a really nice car, it is actually the first I drove. I am sure you will be happy with it for many years to come.

Post some pictures and Welcome to the community.
 

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Going in tommorrow to close on a soul red i Touring hatchback (no tech package, parents vetoed that).

I was going to go in today to finalize things and take it home, but it was pouring most of the day so I told the dealer I'd wait till tomorrow. While I was on the phone, they mentioned that they already had it detailed this morning and it would be waiting for me tommorrow. I'm a little bothered that they detailed it (although I think I neglected to tell them not to) - should I make a fuss about this? I've heard from various people/the internet that letting the dealer detail a new car is a bad idea.
In my case, dealer "detailing" basically involved a wash and vac, not much more. Look it over though.
 
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