Personally I jumped from my 02 Pro5 into the 3 Sport. The Pro5 is a great car don't get me wrong but in my case the price delta was at best $3000cdn. For the extra chassis improvements, performance and amenities it was an easy decision.
The Pro5 is a great value but the 3 provides a lot more refinement overall. Just depends on what you are looking for in your car. I'd suggest taking both out to see for yourself what the differences are and if they are worthwhile to you.
Yeah, I really love the P5. If it weren't for the Mazda3, I'd probably have gotten one already. However, I think the differences between the two are significant enough to merit the extra cost of the 3.
The P5 is kinda gutless unless you plan on mod-ing it. I think it puts out 130hp and with an automatic, the gear switching sucks so much its tough to get up a steep hill with any decent speed. The Mazda3 has at minimum 148hp (on the base sedans) which is a decent step up. Then the Sport and GT sedans have 160hp. 160 over 130 is by far a reason to pay an extra $3000. Put that together with a higher resell value due to the newer car model and the refinements of the interior and you've got a TON of reasons. The question you should be asking yourself is Mazda3 hatch or Mazda3 Sedan (keeping in mind, the sedan base starts a whole lot lower end and cheaper than the hatch base price).
I wouldn't call it gutless, they are very sprinty. Out of intersections they have pretty good pull. Up really steep hills yeah you have to gear down or pop out of O/D but I took my Pro5 on a 3000km road trip this past August from Calgary to Tofino and back and there is a lot of mountain in there and never felt I was pushing the car too hard except in rare high mountain pass areas.
I had the luxury of being able to drive both the P5 and the M3 prior to the decision to buy the M3. Don't get me wrong, the P5 is a great car with excellent reviews and would serve anybody as a great daily driver. The incentives to purchase a 2003 leftover were there as well but to compare the P5 and M3 is like apples to oranges, they are totally different. The P5 might have some more room in the back seat but that is about it in my comparison. When you consider financing over 5 years yes you pay more for the M3 but you get alot more as well. If the M3 was not an option this year I would have went with the P5. You won't be disapointed with the M3.
I am in agreement that the 3 is a more advanced, upscale, sportier car. But I can understand someone looking at a P5. My local dealer picked up 30-40 of them and with the big rebates, they are priced at close to $5000 (US) under a 3 hatch. Really great deal on a nice car. Anyone satisfied by a P5 is going to really love the deals out there.
I stopped by the Mazda dealership this past week and they had at least 10 2003 P5s in the parking lot. I am sure they will have to damn near give them away with the mz3s sitting on the lot. I was honestly thinking to just pick up a p5 to hold me over until the mazdaspeed3 comes out. If that could be done with minimal loss in dollars I would be all over it!
I haven't really read what everyone else has said here, but I came from a late model '02 (with tiptronics) to the 3 MT.
The difference in the tranmission probably has a lot to do with it, but overall I think that the design and features on the 3 surpass the P5 by a longshot.
The price gouging I got for being an early adopter in California (1-2 weeks on market) is still kicking me, but overall my monthly is only $30 extra.
If I had to do it again, I would still pick the 3 - it's just overall a more solid, fun to drive car. And a bit more practical in it's storage/cargo.
The only downside is that the rear seat can only be taken out, not folded up. And if you take it out, it takes about 45 minutes to figure out how to get it back in (seat belts do not go gentle into that goodnight).
Bear in mind - I've already have three seperate issues in my mazda 3 also... Not one in the P5, but I am much happier with the 3.
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