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Hey all. Just picked up a new 3 i Sport for the fiancé (she's not a car person, I sought it out, and she's thrilled). Below is my typical style of a very long review. :laugh2:

I come from V8 Mustangs, to several M-B's, a BMW 535i M Sport, and currently a Macan S with several options, which I absolutely love.

I never really considered the class of car she was searching in, as something that would tickle my enthusiast bone. Civic's, Corolla's, etc. Until I started researching safety (none of them were impressive in that class) and saw how the 3 performs in line with the upmarket cars. Best safety results I've seen from its class, by far.

Then I read the reviews, and saw how not only is the new 3 the "magazine darling" for its class.... It's the magazine darling, period. Reviewers can't get enough of how brilliantly it's engineered, especially for its price range. Urging enthusiasts to consider it the optimal choice. Which naturally resonated with me. I mean, to get her a car that I can also have passion in (here I am on the Mazda forum.... I'd say success :D)? How cool would that be!

I know about Mazda's sporting heritage (and current handling legend, the Miata). So my interest further piqued.

Checked it out, and I really couldn't believe how well they got this car. Firstly, I'm glad that they don't force a sunroof (which I'm aware most don't in this segment) as I'm tall, and the 3 gives me awesome headroom, from a small sedan. The exterior seems more inline with an entry level German car, more than the goofy/gimmicky looking typical offering by the class. I really like how cunning yet elegant the front is. Which surprisingly even carries over to their new "CUV" as well. Unfortunately, they didn't take into account front license plates. It totally destroys the look of the front, imo. I don't run front plates on my cars, but I know she doesn't want to take a chance to be hassled by it.

Two big factors that made me a true believer:

DRIVE: Wow! I drove a GTI recently (2 of them, one DCT which is phenomenal and one manual, which goes without saying as ultimate fun). The GTI follows a similar formula to the 3, albeit at a different price point thus naturally different level. I don't care what "level" a car is at. I appreciate great and focused engineering, sans gimmick fluff, when I experience it. The GTI is just perfect in every way, for its intentions. Steering is a pleasure to even park the car, and everything is where you need it. Tactful, smart, sophisticated, yet still fun. "Less is more". The HP number is moderate, yet it feels like all you need. It exploits it in a way that's perfect within its package. I find this to be a breath of fresh air in this modern age of vehicular gluttony that's sapping the soul and character out of cars. Please, more engineers driving these companies, less marketing managers. I also recently drove an Audi S3 which is like a GTI on steroids, and that was absolutely remarkable as well.

Onto the 3: To start; I've taken the 3 down some windy roads, then followed with the Porsche. The juxtaposition of both cars, and experiencing two new cars that are dynamically revolutionary within their respective sectors, is an absolute joy. I love cars that are smartly and well engineered to be driven.

I feel like this car competes closer with a Golf than a Corolla. The steering is FANTASTIC. On the BMW boards, there's a thread on the new F30 3 Series (which gets panned for its steering) titled: "BMW, please call Mazda re: steering" by a guy renting a current 3. It's linear, direct, just a treat. The suspension also; very nice, light, and dynamic. I hope Mazda brings out a serious 3, with active suspension tech to minimize body roll during harder corners and not lose (and/or increase) comfort. It rides a little bumpy and is a bit "noisy", but I like that for this type of car. It feels alive, soulful, and sporty (not in the cheesy marketing way you see from this segment typically, but in a bonafide way). Maybe on long trips I'd wish for some more insulation, but for what we'll be using the car for, I enjoy the tradeoff. It's still very well padded feeling, and VERY solid feeling, so you feel pretty coddled and luxurious inside of it.

HP is decent for its price range. Again, I'd love to see Mazda really show off what this chassis can do with a hyper version. More HP, adaptive suspension, etc. While keeping the weight hopefully around 3K lbs (just under like the base cars would be great, but unlikely, unless they strip it a bit, which would be fun). I think this car is capable of being one of the most dynamic high volume 4 doors out there. In fact, even with the moderate HP, and the 6 speed- which is a great transmission- though not nearly as snappy or aggressive as a DCT or even ZF 8 speed (but again, great for its intent and positioning)- I consider it a bonafide sports sedan.

I did drive a loaded Focus Hatchback recently, and was surprised at how fun it was to toss around. But this Mazda is a step up in dynamics.

INTERIOR:

This is another game changer. Cars of this segment generally have immature, more gimmicky interiors that appeal to a "younger" demographic in that marketing room pandering type of way (face value, no substance), but not in the way that MANY "young people" think. I.e, "young people" have taste and like understated quality too! The 3's interior is a joy. I even think the faux CF bits are acceptable within the whole package (I guess they need to pander a little, but it does add some detailed surface texture). Soft touch plastics everywhere, etc. The Infotainment is unreal for this range. It's in line with my old iDrive, as well as Audi's MMI. In fact, it pretty much rips off both of them (somehow without coming across as shameless and copycat-ish as Hyundai, Kia, etc. when they do it, as copycats annoy the hell out of me and I don't respect them), and even adds a touchscreen for good measure. The amounts of ways in how you can control it is staggering. I'm not an infotainment crazy guy, I prefer to feel engaged with the inner visceral mechanical soul of a car while techtainment takes a backseat, to take a break from all the front-running tech while I drive (instead trading it for performance technology which I am a big fan of), but it's very nice for a car like this, at an amazing value. And my fiancé LOVES it. Even the sound system is possibly better and more high-quality than the base system in my Porsche. I usually hate that lazy and fad-ish "pop up screen taped to a dash", but hey, it's what most of the mass market "premium" cars are trending on, so it adds some "buzz points" for a car like this. I prefer it integrated into a dash, as it makes the designers actually have to work and architecturally DESIGN rather than hide behind haphazard (conveniently, easy to implement as it doesn't require any harmony) fad, but Mazda did it quite well (much better than Mercedes' literal jokes of "giant Tablet double side taped to a dash", imo).

The design and material quality of the interior is more like an entry BMW or Audi, than it is any of its direct competitors. The buttons and switches have a nice and thought-out, dampened tactile quality to them (something I find Japanese car makers often don't focus on). It's Germanic, yet somehow without being too copycat-y. They applied it in their own cultured way. Everything is harmonious, well integrated, timeless, comforting, simple, purposeful, minimal, focusing on substance and uniformity, rather than fluff and dazzle. I love that.

Complaints:

Not many. Sightlines are terrible, but that's the way the auto market is unfortunately going (form>function). Front license plate blah's an otherwise great looking front. I wish there was some better solution, but not sure if possible. Everything else has reasons and tradeoffs that are a result of the great value you get.

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We originally went to get a base model. But they gave us a great deal on the i Sport. REALLY happy we got it, as its upgrades are nice touches and very useful. And it dresses up the interior some. I don't think it comes with any suspension or performance enhancements, which is unfortunate (there's nothing "sport" about infotainment, but marketing has to peak their heads out somewhere). I generally like to buy cars, and like brands that are more buy thus enthusiast centric, but leasing made better sense for her, at this time, due to our current lifestyle. And the Porsche is a purchase, so it's kind of a balancing act. Mazda's lease is VERY consumer friendly. More so than all the Germans I've dealt with. GAP insurance is included (rare for a lower cost car), you get a $1,000 "allowance" of damages before they even charge you (awesome policy for the consumer), the turn in fee is moderate, and the over-mileage charge is very low compared to the cars I've been used to. However, with the expected resale of this car, I do think buying is probably a wiser overall choice.

She was picking between the red, white and blue models. They quoted us the same price for all. She liked the white, and I did too (what can I say, I'm partial). Even though I was promoting her to diversify our garage up :D. More color options would be merrier, but at least Mazda offers some interesting choices.

Here's a pic (don't mind the blurred out sales guy), no good ones yet, but the car is pretty i Sport standard fare. Probably won't mod it since it's hers and a lease. I would love to tint it though.

Hope you enjoyed this text book. Look forward to enjoying this car! The value metric is just amazing to me. I have a newfound and high respect for Mazda, and it seems everyone is catching on as well.

 

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:welcome: and congrats! Thx for sharing your thoughts and impressions in such detail. Glad you're enjoying the Mz3. Long live the iSport! :wink:
 
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Welcome, and thanks for sharing your thoughts of the Mazda.

I enjoyed this, especially hearing from a perspective that has experienced the cars that you have. Again, welcome, and thank you for taking the time to write this:D
 
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Always nice to read someones praise (very thorough) of our car...Cheers. :)
 

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Good read.

I'm going from a fully-optioned Mazda3 GT to a VW GTI. I recently gave a report at the 30k km anniversary; still have the Mazda for a couple weeks before I move abroad for a little while. The Mazda is great up to about 8/10ths driving; however I don't like how things get a bit messy beyond that. I do primarily rural driving so I have ample opportunity to open up the performance envelope on switchbacks and settle to an "autobahn-typical" 150-160km/h speeds between cities- the 145km/h limit on the cruise control irritates me quite a bit. I just never bonded with the car; it was technically satisfactory in many ways but never made me smile. I never had "fun".

Assuming I come back from Germany, I'll hit "restart" with a GTI. Given I have a supplier discount with VW and not with Mazda, the pricing is almost the same depending on equipment level so I decided I'd be happier going back to a German car (used to BMWs and VWs). In fact, the only reason I can think why I didn't go with one in the first place was that VW took so damn long to get Puebla up and running.
 

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Thanks all, and glad you guys enjoyed it.

Good read.

I'm going from a fully-optioned Mazda3 GT to a VW GTI. I recently gave a report at the 30k km anniversary; still have the Mazda for a couple weeks before I move abroad for a little while. The Mazda is great up to about 8/10ths driving; however I don't like how things get a bit messy beyond that. I do primarily rural driving so I have ample opportunity to open up the performance envelope on switchbacks and settle to an "autobahn-typical" 150-160km/h speeds between cities- the 145km/h limit on the cruise control irritates me quite a bit. I just never bonded with the car; it was technically satisfactory in many ways but never made me smile. I never had "fun".

Assuming I come back from Germany, I'll hit "restart" with a GTI. Given I have a supplier discount with VW and not with Mazda, the pricing is almost the same depending on equipment level so I decided I'd be happier going back to a German car (used to BMWs and VWs). In fact, the only reason I can think why I didn't go with one in the first place was that VW took so damn long to get Puebla up and running.
Yeah, it's definitely an 8/10th's car. Not meant to be pushed to limits. It shines kind of on the 4-8 scale. That's especially why I'd love to see and drive a true sport version of this chassis. AWD preferably, an adaptive or magnetic suspension that retains a mechanical element but that really balance body roll through pushing limits yet still be steerable in comfort, and a more aggressively tuned transmission, of course with some decent HP. Doesn't have to be a barn burner, but just balanced to the chassis. A'la GTI or Golf R.
 
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