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Hello everyone, I'm a newb here, and have been reading for about 2 hours now. I gotta crash, cause I got a final tomorrow, but wanted to throw up some questions. I'm buying a car on Friday, while my Jeep waits to be fixed. I had previously considered the Honda EX, Jetta 1.8, and the Corolla S. Today I stumbled across the Mazda3 and was very impressed. I haven't seen it in person or tested it but planning on doing that on Friday. From my reading, I have come up with a few questions. They might be available in search, and I know reposts are PITA from my Jeepforum, but because of time constraints hopefully you can help me out. I'll try to search as well tomorrow.

-Is the S worth it over the I? I've read reviews and they show marginal differences in power and torque, however when reading the specs, you get alloys, power, A/c,... with the S over the I(makes up for the price difference).
-When people say sport, are they just talking about the options package or a different engine all together.
-I'm planning on the AT, the Jeep has destroyed my love for MT's, I want something to comfortabley drive. I read that the AT sucks power. How true is this?
-Another point I saw was that the stock Goodyears are slick. Does anyone have any opinions on this. I'm buying in the dead of winter and dont want to crash it in a week.
-I'm planning on getting ABS, but the firm braking power worries me in slick conditions. Do I have any basis for concern?

Any and all information is appreciated. Also if anyone wants to comment/compare to my other vehicle prospects that works too.

TIA
Craig
 

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Welcome TellyDSP! To answer your questions.

- The i and s have their own advantages. It all depends on what you want out of the car. 12 horses isn't too much a difference, and it seems that the 2.0l engine is more livable (fuel efficiency, cruising RPMs). The I has different interiors with more choices like beige cloth instead of the black you're stuck with in the s. The S opens up a lot more packaging options such as Xenon, Sport, NAV, Leather and Moonroof/CD. So really, it comes back to what you want out of the car. Go for the I and you'll get good performance and quality, go for the S and get improved performance and more amenities (and a hatch if you want that body style).

- Sport is a Mz3 model in Canada. In the US we have the sport package which gets you ground effects, bigger rims and a different grille.

- You'll get less control over the engine with the AT as well as decreased mileage (2-4 mpg). I've heard very good reviews about the Mz3 MT, very comparable to Honda's. Try it out, see how you like it!

- Don't know about the tires. But I see that some people are changing out the stock tires.

- Can't help you on the ABS.

Good luck with your shopping! Go for the Mazda3!
 

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The stock tires aren't that bad for winter. Trust me, you won't crash with the stock tires as long as you dun drive 2f2f :). But they're not considered good quality. If you have extra cash to spend, I'd suggest you to change to better quality tires.
 

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I heard the manual transmission to be one of the best-in-class. Also, the Mazda3s (or i even) has more power than any of the other three cars you mentioned.
 

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TellyDSP said:
-Is the S worth it over the I? I've read reviews and they show marginal differences in power and torque, however when reading the specs, you get alloys, power, A/c,... with the S over the I(makes up for the price difference).
They're all worth the price. It all depends on your financial situation.
-I'm planning on the AT, the Jeep has destroyed my love for MT's, I want something to comfortabley drive. I read that the AT sucks power. How true is this?
You gotta test drive one to judge it.
 

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"-Is the S worth it over the I? I've read reviews and they show marginal differences in power and torque, however when reading the specs, you get alloys, power, A/c,... with the S over the I(makes up for the price difference)."

I'd say the S is worth it. The extra features alone make it worthwhile and I can say the 2.3L pulls smooth and hard, 12HP may not seem like much but it can take many hundreds of dollars to ACTUALLY get an additional 12HP out of any car and with highway speeds around here at 120KM/h (pretty quick) any extra HP is useful.

"-When people say sport, are they just talking about the options package or a different engine all together."

Yeah as cited above the M3 Sport is a Canada thing though it is a nice bundle it includes every option you can get in Canada (ABS etc). Your only options are Auto, Air & Sunroof.

"-I'm planning on the AT, the Jeep has destroyed my love for MT's, I want something to comfortabley drive. I read that the AT sucks power. How true is this?"

The AT is just as brisk as the MT. The MT you may be able to snick off a .10th or so in the quarter but the AT shifts fast and smooth. The Manumatic can make it a bit of fun when you have the space to run through the gears. The MT is a nice piece though with traffic as it is around here I can't be bothered with my every day car.

"-Another point I saw was that the stock Goodyears are slick. Does anyone have any opinions on this. I'm buying in the dead of winter and dont want to crash it in a week."

The RSA tires are certainly not the creme de la creme of the tire world but they are quite servicable. We get a fair amount of snow up here in Calgary and a lot of ice inbetween and I haven't had any issues with the RSA. IF I come up with the extra cash I'll consider buying new summer tires in another year or so but these will be fine. In case you didn't know RSAs are used a very wide array of cars as their stock tires so they can't be that completely bad or people just would reject them.

"-I'm planning on getting ABS, but the firm braking power worries me in slick conditions. Do I have any basis for concern?"

I'm not exactly sure what you are getting at here. I found the pedal to be quite progressive in the braking power. With ABS you get the Electronic Brake Force Distribution which automatically applies braking power where needed. ABS works well as well, I've come to a brisk stop from 80km/h to zero in less than 80 feet with the ABS going so I can say it works well.
 
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