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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm a potential iGT/sGT sedan buyer but there is a little fear holding me back.

What I love about the new Mazda3:
- The car is beautiful inside and out
- 7" infotainment center is the most intuitive and enjoyable I have ever used
- HID and LED DRLs on 's' models -- anyone achieve similar with aftermarket?
- Bose sound system is OK
- Available technology
- Cockpit design and layout
- The emotions it instills
- Great handling
- Great mileage
- Can get away with compact since I don't need trunk space and never carry rear passengers

What concerns me:
- Quality issues, and especially whether or not they are fixable by dealer
- Road noise and really bad rattles accumulating overtime
- Critical technical issues being discovered down the road
- Discomfort for 1+ hour highway trips (driving almost 400 miles per week, LOTs of highway, but thanks to rush hour I guess you could call it stop and go...)
- Winter performance in Michigan

Other than that, I feel like this car is a good fit for me. I am a prior RX-8 owner, but did not put on the miles like I will the Mazda3. I had it for nearly 3 years and loved everything but the rattles and mileage. I still wonder though if a Sonata or Fusion would provide less headaches since I need reliable transportation for work 5 days a week.

How many miles do you have on your 3 and what kind of issues have you had? Does anyone regret not settling for a more quiet and practical car? Emotions are getting the best of me in this dilemma. :death:
 

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No regrets here. Have the car since October last year and almost 9,000 miles now and still love every moment of it every day I drive it :D The car is still tight like a drum and only rattle I get is from the passenger A pillar but dealer fixed it. Still comes and goes tho but doesn't bother me much now. That was the only issue I've had with this car, other than that it's been great. Some folks have issues with their infotainment system but mine's been trouble free for the most part, even though I'm on the old version.

The car does have a lot of road noise with the stock tires but after changing them out with some Michelin's the road noise has almost all gone, just some roar on certain roads but a lot lot lot better than before. Only get some wind noise that's about it. Seats are comfortable and did not feel tired during the 5+ hour road trip last month. Quality on the car is very good, and much better than all the cars I've had in the past. I think you'll be happy with this car :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks a lot for the info! I presume the roads are pretty smooth everywhere in LA? Roads can be hellish here in Michigan. After some research, it appears the tire noise is far more significant than the wind noise. Like you said, finding better tires can make a big impact. I suppose Mazda doesn't use better tires to keep costs down?

As for the infotainment, based on my research it seems to be pretty solid with the latest version. When I test drove one I had absolutely no issues and was really pleased with the Command console and sound quality.

I'm almost tempted to go with the iGT and find a way to go aftermarket with the HIDs and LED DRLs. Those are actually a big reason why I want a 3s trim!

Glad you're enjoying the car.
 

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Curious that you are cross-category shopping Sonata's and Fusion's but not mentioning the Mazda 6...

HIDs and LED DRLs are cool, but the bigger reason for stepping up to the 3s is the 2.5L. It feels great. Though I'd prefer a MT, the AT is smooth and intuitive. Sport mode actually adds a noticeable boost in low gears off the block, and hold higher RPMs throughout.

Road noise is there, but nothing that kills the deal. I actually want to hear the engine and the road. They are both important feedback. I'm driving, not floating on air.

Regarding your quality concerns:

I only have 1800 miles on my 3sGT, but it seems to be a well constructed car. Feels solid MOST of the time. Some surprises I've discovered after delivery, but nothing that's an issue yet: The doors are a little flimsy feeling when you shut them. The trim around the doors isn't super snug at the edges. The sound proofing non-woven textile in the rear wheel wells is uncovered and looks cheap. No hood lining. Headliner is a little flimsy. So are a few of the interior trim panels around the instrument cluster.

But, even with all that... It's still a damn fun car to listen to music in, sit in, interact with, and drive.

Looks like your list of Pros outweighs the Cons. Can't hide the emotional aspect of a car purchase. I tried removing it from the equation, but it doesn't work.

Nobody regrets buying and extra scoop of ice cream.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the useful post.

Curious that you are cross-category shopping Sonata's and Fusion's but not mentioning the Mazda 6...
Might sound crazy, but I chose against the Mazda 6 because the infotainment center was TERRIBLE and I didn't like the overall dash as much. To get one as loaded as a 3 sGT also costs significantly more.

Road noise is there, but nothing that kills the deal. I actually want to hear the engine and the road. They are both important feedback. I'm driving, not floating on air.
Very true. 99% of the time I drive with music anyway! I also hear opting for more expensive tires can also make a huge difference.

I only have 1800 miles on my 3sGT, but it seems to be a well constructed car. Feels solid MOST of the time. But, even with all that... It's still a damn fun car to listen to music in, sit in, interact with, and drive. Looks like your list of Pros outweighs the Cons. Can't hide the emotional aspect of a car purchase. I tried removing it from the equation, but it doesn't work.
It does seem the pros outweigh the cons. I think I might be over-paranoid about road noise and rattles and that they are tradeoffs well worth it.

One other factor I forgot to mention is the Mazda 3 is a lot more to insure! But I suppose you can call it enjoyment tax.

Great replies all.
 

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I've found to be comfortable in my 3, I cannot sit like I do in my other vehicles. The Mazda punishes you for slouching at all while driving, and if I do the headrest causes me problems, and my back hurts. If however I sit in a more proper posture, back more straight, the car is extremely comfortable. I have chronic back problems, and I have no problem driving this car for an hour on the highway now that I've figured out how to sit in it. I've not taken it on any longer drives than about an hour and a half, but I'd have no problem recommending it for your driving purposes.

60% of the interior cabin noise on this car is from the Dunlops. Put on some AS3's or Conti DWS and most of that will go away. The wind noise is here to stay, but it's manageable imo.

Unless you are absolutely dead set on driving a stick, I can't see that I'd recommend the I over the S trim. The 2.5L engine makes a stunning amount of difference imo, and the paddle shifters and sport mode on the transmission really transform the driving experience from spunky eco compact to true nimble compact sports car. It's not going to beat a Camaro in a drag race, or beat a Porsche on the skid pad, but in 100% honesty I've driven this car hard quite a few times, and I've never EVER felt it lose composure in a turn, or feel underpowered. It wants to be driven.

If fuel economy is a concern, you should be forewarned that to hit EPA highway estimates, you're going to be driving 65. The difference for me between 65 and 70 mph is 34mpg vs almost 40mpg in the 2.5L. I personally don't have a problem losing five minutes on an hour commute to save the money, but you might.

Honestly my only true complaint about the car is the infotainment system. Specifically the bluetooth. The vehicle simply will not function properly if the wife and my phone are both in the car at the same time. It will always default to her phone for phone calls, but the bluetooth streaming feature will not function unless one of us turns off bluetooth. I've also noticed that even when paired with my Note 3, the bluetooth media doesn't always synch, and if it does synch volume levels are extremely erratic between tracks. It also hesitates during bluetooth playback, which is a bandwidth limitation on the hardware itself. We get and older version of bluetooth in the 3's infotainment, not BT 3.0 which is becoming standard and has much better bandwidth in modern applications. That's my only real gripe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the mention of proper posture, I vs S, road noise, fuel economy, and the infotainment. That was really good insight. It sounds like pairing multiple devices to the system is where problems occur, but I won't be doing that. I don't use Bluetooth for music either and prefer USB stick. Sounds like I'm clear from infotainment problems for the most part.

I suppose the biggest determining factor now is how much more it really costs to insure than a 2012 Fusion. The sGT is going to run me $27500 OTD but I can get a loaded Fusion for under 20k with low miles and probably dirt cheap insurance. The Fusion handles really well and is well-equipped. I suppose the only thing the Mazda 3 offers is beauty and better infotainment. Mazda worth $7k+ more? IDK. But it would also be a new car.

Thanks for the great replies all. Very helpful!
 

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Thanks for the mention of proper posture, I vs S, road noise, fuel economy, and the infotainment. That was really good insight. It sounds like pairing multiple devices to the system is where problems occur, but I won't be doing that. I don't use Bluetooth for music either and prefer USB stick. Sounds like I'm clear from infotainment problems for the most part.

I suppose the biggest determining factor now is how much more it really costs to insure than a 2012 Fusion. The sGT is going to run me $27500 OTD but I can get a loaded Fusion for under 20k with low miles and probably dirt cheap insurance. The Fusion handles really well and is well-equipped. I suppose the only thing the Mazda 3 offers is beauty and better infotainment. Mazda worth $7k+ more? IDK. But it would also be a new car.

Thanks for the great replies all. Very helpful!
Doesn't the fusion have Ford's dual clutch tranny? I came sooo close to buying a Focus Titanium, but the horrid stuff I read about the transmission pushed me into buying the Mazda3. The Fusion is a sweet looking car though.
 

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Thanks for the mention of proper posture, I vs S, road noise, fuel economy, and the infotainment. That was really good insight. It sounds like pairing multiple devices to the system is where problems occur, but I won't be doing that. I don't use Bluetooth for music either and prefer USB stick. Sounds like I'm clear from infotainment problems for the most part.

I suppose the biggest determining factor now is how much more it really costs to insure than a 2012 Fusion. The sGT is going to run me $27500 OTD but I can get a loaded Fusion for under 20k with low miles and probably dirt cheap insurance. The Fusion handles really well and is well-equipped. I suppose the only thing the Mazda 3 offers is beauty and better infotainment. Mazda worth $7k+ more? IDK. But it would also be a new car.

Thanks for the great replies all. Very helpful!
I own a 2012 Fusion (SE, 2.5L, FWD), not sure if that's the model you're looking at. I imagine the 3.0L V6 would be a whole lot more powerful, but I've read that it gets dismal mileage, especially with AWD. Anyway, the 2.5L isn't even a comparison to my 2.0L Mazda 3. The 3 feels way more agile, gets way better mileage (20-30 MPG in the Fusion vs. 30-40 MPG in the 3) and, let's be honest, is a much more attractive car. The facelifted first gen Fusions (2010-2012) look better than the original first gens, but I'm starting to feel like it's looking dated. I even really liked the second gen Fusion's look for awhile but it's fallen out of favor with me after seeing what Mazda is doing. The 3, 6 and CX-5 are damn fine looking cars!

Our Fusion is more of my wife's car/family weekend vehicle, and honestly, since getting the 3, I've been seriously debating trading it in for a CX-5 to fill that role. After driving my 3 to/for work all week the Fusion feels like a significantly bigger car. It handles well for what it is, but the 3 is so much fun to drive it's really ruined the Fusion for me (and I really did like it when we bought it, back when I drove a 2007 Cobalt). That's why I'm looking at the CX-5, to try and capture some of that fun-to-drive Mazda spirit of the 3 in a bit larger family vehicle, with AWD, that will do well in the Canadian winter.
 

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Pros after owning it for about six months:

It's comfortable for both of us. We had to take it to my grandfather's funeral a few days after picking it up, eight hours one way, and no complaints. I took it to visit my dad, eight hours again around Christmas and it was comfortable.
Good gas mileage. Between 30-40, varies quite a bit on driving style. Still twice the mileage of our old PT Cruiser.
Bose sound is good, would like to add a small subwoofer, but reputable shops wouldn't touch it at the time. They did say come back later and they might be more comfortable adding one, this was back in December. Otherwise, the sound is good from the stock system.
The infotainment interface is pretty good.
Brakes are great.
Engine performance is good.

Cons:

A couple of times I thought I closed the hatch all the way, but didn't. The car won't auto-lock in that case, and if you press the button on the door, it will beep wildly. First time, it led to massive confusion on my part.
Would like HID lights, but not an option on the iGT. I haven't looked into aftermarket too much.
 

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I think a lot of the complaints boil down to three areas, but I'll cut to the chase and say that *for this segment and price* it's a no brainer. There's hardly any real competition, and I owned the car it dethroned from all the top 10 lists (3rd gen Focus.)

Problem areas:
- Options package weirdness: If you can find a package that suits you, great. Otherwise, the packages are strange.
- Design decisions in pursuit of "Skyactiv" technology. Yes, the car is built to be light. Yes, that means of the heavy, passive sound damping material...
- Infotainment woes. I'm a victim of the 3rd one and pretty much all of what frustrates me about the car is COMMAND infotainment related. I will say that the newer revs have fixed some boneheaded features and the system crashes less often and less spectacularly than it did originally. It's a mixed bag-- when it works, *most* of what it does it does great. There are a few interface issues/design decisions that need polishing and stability isn't quite there. Having said that, patches have been coming and continue to be released. It doesn't look like Mazda is leaving people high and dry.

With all that being done, I love driving my 3s Touring and would argue in favor of that over the 3iGT unless mileage is a primary concern. Even then, the 3iGT is a great car. It's comfortable for long drives-- I can do about 4 hours before my butt needs a brief break, audio and nav are very good and handling is good for a FWD car. Both the 3i and 3s could be a *little* faster, but both are quite adequate in performance.

I'm definitely happy with my purchase. My wife has become deeply dissatisfied with her car since I bought mine...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I agree about the packages -- drives me nuts! Thanks to all who have chimed in. Hope to receive more thoughts/responses.

My main concerns now is the sound isn't great and the real leather in the sGT is uncomfortably stiff! Anyone think that will soften up overtime? I had no problems with the leatherette in the sT model.
 

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Doesn't the fusion have Ford's dual clutch tranny? I came sooo close to buying a Focus Titanium, but the horrid stuff I read about the transmission pushed me into buying the Mazda3. The Fusion is a sweet looking car though.
Their transmission is really terrible. I had a 2012 focus hatchback rental a while back and the car would feel like it's about to stall when you're coming to a stop and very jerky when accelerating. My friend who also rented one while in Hawaii reported the same thing. Don't know about the Fusion tho, hope it's not plagued with the crappy transmission.

Speaking of auto transmission, the 3's six speed auto is one of the best I've driven. It really acts and shifts like a manual car and always seems to keep it at the right gear when needed. No regret here with the auto :D Though you would save about $1g or so if you REALLY need a manual.
 

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I agree about the packages -- drives me nuts! Thanks to all who have chimed in. Hope to receive more thoughts/responses.

My main concerns now is the sound isn't great and the real leather in the sGT is uncomfortably stiff! Anyone think that will soften up overtime? I had no problems with the leatherette in the sT model.
I think the leather is fantastic. At no point have I felt like it was stiff. The sound system isn't fantastic, but it's better than a lot of cars, especially in its segment. I'm not a huge fan of the sound stage being pushed so far in front, but I think I'm in a minority there. I personally think you're looking at this all the wrong way though. This car either speaks to your soul, or it doesn't. I drove an Elantra, a Focus, a Corolla, and a Cruze before driving the 3. The minute I pulled onto the road I knew that this was the car I wanted. Ultimately it's all about driving it, and how it feels and how it affects you. The sound, the seats, the sunroof, the extra stuff is all superfluous to that feeling in my opinion. This car gives me exactly what I want, whenever I want it. I can drive it like a boring econobox commuter car and pull 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, but if I want to have a little fun with it, I can push a single button and suddenly it's a completely different car.
 
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