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An interesting combination of sporty handling, efficient engine, an abundance of standard features, and a practical interior make the Mazda3
sedan with the 2.3 engine worth considering especially considering that even when heavily optioned it barely dents the $20,000 (US) barrier. Best of all, the Mazda can zip into any sized parking space and gets above average gas mileage.
Unfortunately, that smart handling comes at a cost as the performance tires are noisy and the sturdy suspension sends its numerous complaints through the adjustable steering wheel when driven down damaged roads. In addition, the electrically assisted steering is extremely quick to react to any driver and requires a while to appreciate. Only the race oriented Mitsubishi Evo comes as close when it comes to steering accuracy. Mom's view:
I couldn't resist an antique purchase and was able to immediately take it home thanks to the fold down rear seats on the
Mazda. This Mazda also comes in a station wagon version if you need more room and I like the privacy of a trunk on my cars. It is a zippy sedan once you get the engine revs up. We got 24 mpg on unleaded, but the government says we could do better listing 26/31 figures. My favorite experience with the Mazda 3 was driving down a local windy highway where numerous SUVs have found the meaning of time heavy while cascading down the canyons. Because some drivers take this stretch at such high speeds I feel intimated and check my rear view mirror frequently for reckless drivers. However, the Mazda 3 carved up this road with ease. It is difficult to believe this is a passenger car the way it melted the bends and straights.
The interior is adequate with good storage and nothing dramatic. I would pass on the manual five-speed transmission, as the clutch is difficult to modulate wearing shoes with even a modest heel. The automatic is also better in traffic with little reduction in fuel economy
. Considering its svelt 2800 pound weight it did fairly well in front crash tests and the pedals are designed to move away from a driver's feet in an accident.The seats are comfortable, the steering wheel has a nice feel, and the car quickly makes you feel at home. Redundant controls on the steering wheel, rear seats that flip down for more storage are handy.The night lighting is adequate, but the gauges are difficult to read and the illumination is not crisp. Overall, a nice vehicle with some excellent attributes.