2017 Mazda3

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AKROVER
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:49 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

2017 Mazda3

Postby AKROVER » Thu May 04, 2017 12:18 pm

On our first morning back in Cleveland, we picked up our brand new Mazda 3 Touring 2.5 hatchback with a 6 speed manual. I bought the car without ever driving one or even sitting in one, but I tend to trust Car and Driver’s reviews and I could tell from the pictures that I really liked the interior. We used it around Cleveland running errands for a week and then headed across the country with it to South Dakota. Since I wired the money the week before picking up the car, the dealer didn’t have to wait for funds verification and was able to get me an Ohio title before I left town a week later. This allowed me to stop in my legal county of residence in eastern South Dakota on my way to western South Dakota. I got my SD plates and registration (after paying my fees and sales tax) and the SD title will be mailed to me.

Fuel economy was somewhat important to me so I was excited when the first tank of just running around was over 33 mpg. Once we got out on the highway, the computer was sometimes reading above 40 for average fuel economy. So far, the best tank I have seen is only 38, but I blew it that day by spending almost an hour locked in cruise control before realizing that I hadn’t shifted to 6th gear. I think it is capable of getting over 40, but not in South Dakota. Speed limits jumped to 80 in SD and we had a brutal gusty cross wind for the first half of the state and then a strong headwind for the second half. The cross wind had my steering wheel turned into the wind which meant I spent a couple hundred miles scrubbing rubber off my tires. The gas mileage didn’t really change with the wind direction. Cross wind, head wind, I was getting only about 27 mpg at 80 mph. I suppose that’s not really all that bad for that speed and those wind conditions.

The performance on this little car is as good as I expected, but I think they tuned all the drama out of it. The steering wheel feels a little light to me and there is very little body roll so it never feels like I am pushing it in the curves. The engine pulls relatively evenly so it doesn’t feel very fast. I learned a long time ago that a peaky engine feels faster to me even when it isn’t. I have had some fun on some really twisty roads in the Black Hills and it started to feel more alive in that environment (along with challenging my downshifting skills). A couple days ago, I also took it up to 100 on the wide open freeway through the prairie and my wife never even noticed that we were going that fast.

I hate that all cars are taller now than they used to be. I think this car is too tall for its weight so it does get tossed more in the wind than it should. In its defense, we did have some nasty winds that one day. The wind effect also wasn’t bad enough to talk me out of taking advantage of that 80 mph speed limit, but it was two hands on the wheel most of the time.

Our model is relatively middle of the road, but it does have some really nice electronic features. It has the keyless feature where just having the transmitter in your pocket allows you to push a button on the door to unlock the car or push the button on the dash to start the car. It has a nice size touch screen with a really intuitive knob and a couple buttons comfortably located on the center console. I had to pay $400 to get the SD card with the navigation system, but it is a pretty decent system. Some of the functionality of the navigation system is locked out while driving. It won’t let you do things that require a lot of attention like entering a new address. This gets annoying when you have a passenger who can enter that data for you, but isn’t allowed because the car is trying to prevent distracted driving. The screen is a really nice size for the backup camera. The dual zone automatic temperature control works reasonably well, although I have had systems that seemed to be more set and forget. The blind spot warning provides an additional layer of safety against making a mistake, but it has sensed something that wasn’t actually there a couple of times. Kris is particularly happy that we got heated seats. I really would have liked to have had the adaptive cruise control, but that required getting the top of the line vehicle with two additional expensive packages on top of that. Since that was the only feature I really wanted in that upgrade (well, the heated steering wheel would have been nice), $7000 seemed a little steep for just adding cruise control that can match my speed to the car in front of me.

Besides the navigation system, I also purchased the Mazda all-weather floor mats. I then never got around to installing them before we had the carpeted ones covered in mud from our adventures in South Dakota, but they are in now and it is nice to have custom fit floor mats.

After two weeks of ownership, the car has over 2500 miles on it. It just might have more miles than the Nissan before we even get to Buffalo. I might also need to take it in for service somewhere along our road trip. It has a synthetic blend and a recommended service interval of 5000 miles (7500 miles if I go full synthetic).

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Basement Paul
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Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:27 pm
Location: Breaking Esso

Re: 2017 Mazda3

Postby Basement Paul » Thu May 04, 2017 8:06 pm

How about a picture of your acquisition? Sounds like a cool car overall. How's the ride quality and interior noise?

-BP

AKROVER
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:49 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Re: 2017 Mazda3

Postby AKROVER » Thu May 04, 2017 10:19 pm

Here are a couple pictures from the day after I picked it up. I can't take a picture now because it is really dirty. Our cabin is on a dirt road and it has rained and snowed a little this week. Ride quality is pretty good, although I would probably have liked it better with 16's as I think the 18's make tar strips a little harsh. The winter tires will probably end up being mounted on 16's. Noise is not the car's strong suit. I have never liked dead silence while riding in a car, but this one gets a little noisy even for me at 70. It doesn't actually get too much noisier at 100, though. The good news is that I can hear the engine, although it doesn't make the most awe inspiring sounds.

Image
Image

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Basement Paul
Posts: 2278
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:27 pm
Location: Breaking Esso

Re: 2017 Mazda3

Postby Basement Paul » Fri May 05, 2017 5:29 pm

The 18's make it ride harder but are more fun in the twisties and inevitably help overall feel and stopping. No matter what you do there's a trade-off. I love the color, but to me a dark red looks good on pretty much anything. I like it.

-BP

AKROVER
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:49 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Re: 2017 Mazda3

Postby AKROVER » Sun May 21, 2017 11:06 am

The car is a little over a month old and now has over 5000 miles. I just had the oil changed here in South Carolina. The Mazda dealer around the corner from my parents went out of business so I just took it to a Firestone service center. It really was just an oil change on the schedule at this point so I don’t imagine they could screw that up, although I have had several oil changes in my life screwed up so I decided to go with a chain that I could sue if they ruined my new car. I did upgrade to full synthetic with this oil change. I fully expect that the service light will come on in a couple thousand miles because I doubt that Firestone reset the service interval in the car even though they assure me that they did. The light hadn’t actually come on yet so I can’t actually know. Technically, the manual says the first service wasn’t actually due until 7500 miles, but between long stretches at 80 mph, dusty roads in the mountains, and lots of full throttle acceleration, I was pretty sure I should change it closer to 5K.

The car is covered in bugs. I ran it through a car wash so it looks great from a distance, but up close, the bugs on the front didn’t all come off. The car was really dirty, too, as we spent a lot of time on dirt roads in South Dakota. All of the inner door areas are really dusty. It really doesn’t look like a brand new car anymore.

I put on a lot of miles on twisty mountain roads in the Black Hills so I finally settled into the car. In those conditions, the car is a lot of fun and it really rewards smooth rev-matched shifts. I wish I had the range of motion in my ankles to do a proper heal-and-toe downshift, but that need really only comes up for me on the downhills. I absolutely love charging uphill in this car.

On the open road crossing the country we encountered more gusty winds. I have owned cars that were much better in the wind than this one so that is a little disappointing. The engine is adequately powerful in most situations, but there have been a few times where I found myself wanting more. I still haven’t had a tank of gas hit 40 mpg, but I did get a couple more 38’s once the speed limits dropped into more reasonable ranges. I guess wanting more power and better fuel economy are a bit of a contradiction so this seems to be a decent compromise for us for our current needs. The good news is that I am easily beating the rated highway mileage on this car of 33 mpg. I am even beating that in mixed driving. I don’t see it ever dropping to the rated 25 in the city, but that is probably because I just don’t think our city driving will ever be the extreme. I am convinced that the current rating system that seems to imply that manual transmissions are now less efficient than automatics is extremely misleading.

The seats are probably the second best I have ever owned. The Porsche seats were my favorite. Most sport seats provide too much lateral support which then gives me pressure points on my thighs on long driving sessions. The Mazda seats do not create any significant pressure points for me even after several days of spending 12 hours in the car. It also helps tremendously that the steering wheel is centered on the seat, something that many manufacturers seem to be cheating on these days. On the twisty roads, I feel adequately constrained, but I did find that long days of touring the mountains had me wishing they had put a knee pad on the center console. The shifter seems telepathic as I have yet to miss a gear and I know I don’t get the full credit for that. Overall, the ergonomics on this car are remarkable.

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GMJohnny
Posts: 775
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:56 am
Location: Auburn Twp, Oh

Re: 2017 Mazda3

Postby GMJohnny » Sun May 21, 2017 7:00 pm

I'm pretty impressed by the mileage, especially if you were not "trying" to get good
miles/gallon..... and that pad by the center console should be installed in the Regal as
well. Until I found the optimal seat position for me in that car, I thought I was going to
have to sell it, because the boney outside part of my right knee was getting raw driving
it around!

GM

AKROVER
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:49 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Re: 2017 Mazda3

Postby AKROVER » Sun Oct 01, 2017 12:15 pm

The Mazda is up to 12,500 miles. We took it on a trip to Nantucket recently and on one leg, the calculations after a fill came out to 39.6 mpg. I just can’t seem to get it over 40, although the readout was as high as 41 for a while. I took it in for its second oil change. It turns out that we don’t have a Mazda dealer particularly close to us so I just took it to a quick change and had them use full synthetic. Mazda dealers are actually pretty affordable for routine service, but since nothing else was due, I decided to take my chances with the warranty rather than drive across town.

AKROVER
Posts: 109
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 2:49 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Re: 2017 Mazda3

Postby AKROVER » Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:33 am

I bought a set of Blizzaks mounted on a reasonably cheap set of wheels. I wanted the Yokohomas because they test pretty close in the important areas and are about 20% cheaper, but Tire Rack couldn’t get those any time soon so I changed to the Blizzaks. I stepped down to 16’s for the winter as 18’s really aren’t meaningful for winter driving and cost about twice as much. I specified 205/60 on my Yokohoma order but when I spoke to Tire Rack on the phone and changed to the Blizzaks, they changed the size to 195/60 without telling me. It is a pretty minor size difference, a tiny bit shorter which is bad but more than just a tiny bit narrower which is good so I plan to keep them. I had them mounted on some black ten spoke wheels that look pretty cool next to the car. I used to just buy the cheap steel wheels for that industrial look, but the weight difference was more significant than the price difference and the Mazda probably deserves better. Tire Rack was really quick getting these to me. I don’t think I will put them on until after we get back from Thanksgiving as that will be a lot of miles in primarily summer conditions. If the weather turns bad before then, I might have to swap them back and forth as Kris has some work trips coming up before then. I’ll get a picture once I install them.

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MostMint
Posts: 1640
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:11 pm
Location: planning a race

Re: 2017 Mazda3

Postby MostMint » Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:14 pm

in the snow you will like the narrower tire better. narrow will help the tire cut through the snow and get to the foundation.
[quote="Basement Paul"]Is that a mint rocketship on the hood?? :shock:
-BP[/quote]


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