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Discussion Starter #1
Today I was thrilled to find that I got the Consumer Reports Auto Issue! Then, I started reading and was quickly disheartened. There wasn't really anything with the 3 in it. Just a little blurp as stated below:

Reliability: New
Satisfaction: New
Depreciation: New

"The Mazda3 is a replacement for the small Protege and Protege5. Available as a sedan or hatchback, it shares components with the next Ford Focus and the new Volvo S40. The Mazda3 is much quieter than the Protege and offers better ride and handling. The 2.0-liter engine is responsive. The 2.3-liter is strong and refined, especially with the manual transmission. Interior quality is impressive. The 3 also offers upscale freatures such as navigation system. The automatic has a manual shift mode."

Not really much about it, BUT the good news is, I was looking around their site and found this:
"Coming in May: Malibu, Stratus, Galant, Verona. As to the Mazda3, early summer. By the way, May will also include a "first look" at the Mazda3."
Jerry Josz CR moderator

"We just got our Mazda3 and it will appear in a group test this summer. So far, it has generated very favorable comments. It wouldn't surprise us if it ends up right up there with Civic and Corolla."
CR_Expert_Gabriel_Shenhar

I just hope the 3 usurps the Focus ZTS, Civic EX, and Corolla LE. The only place it's worse than those cars is in fuel efficiency. But CR tends to really like boring vehicles, so they'll probably test the sedan with the auto tranny and not begin to tap into the true excitement of the vehicle. Time
will tell on this one, but hopefully it will be the winner.

The Auto Issue did show the following for the 6, which could be indicative of what's to come for the 3.
Reliability: Excellent
Satisfaction: Above Average
Depreciation: Not Applicable (new model)

Mazda6 also had the best in class Safety Assessment including such comments:
"Strong brakes, forgiving handling, good offset-crash results"
 

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thanks for the info.

Hopefully they test the 5-sp manual by this summer and not the Auto.

We'll see what they come up with.
 

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I'm betting they will test the auto.

Best chance for the 5-spd is if they test it in a group of sporty cars.

But if it is against Corollas and Civics, it will be an auto.

The mini-review is very positive. That's about the most they will say about a car that hasn't been run through their full test. So its a good sign of a future positive review.
 

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They for some reason have named the Focus best small sedan and Focus SVT best sporty car (or coupe...I can't remember). Not even saying anything about the reliability of the Focus, which I understand is now very very good, in my eye, the car, while still very competitive, is too far along in its life cycle and doesn't drive like its newer competition and doesn't feel as high-rent as its competition(interior plastics, etc).

I have NO problem with a Ford or any other domestic getting great ratings, in fact it makes me happy to see it finally happening. I just don't think I can agree that at this point the Focus is better than a Honda Civic (or the Mazda3, but since it hasn't been tested can't say that for now). Perhaps the Focus' zippier handling won out over the Civics somewhat ho hum drive? I don't know, but I would say that overall I think a Civic drives and feels better than a Focus.

Also, they don't really draw lines on performance or utility, etc. For instance, you'll often hear sporty cars such as the Mazda Miata, Acura RSX or Toyota Celica get dinged for being "harsh riding", "noisy", "cramped", "loud" etc. Same thing you hear about cars such as the Honda Element. Its almost as if they compare a Miata with the Camry and then compare a Yukon to a Taurus. This is the biggest bugger about CR to me. All those cars are fantastic at what they're designed to do, but CR knocks down their ratings because they grade them more on comfort and ride, etc.

The Protege was the top rated small sedan just a few years ago. I wouldn't be surprised to see the 3 take it back. It has the sporty drive of the Focus, only more so, with a higher quality interior than the Civic or Corolla, and offers more options than any of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
More quotes from the CR testers as found on their forums:

"The Mazda3 has the potential to even surpass the Civic, but we'll see soon enough. "

"It's a small car that feels very mature, unlike the typical small car. It's likely to score highly in its class. You can read a "First Look" about it in the May issue, which is out in 2 weeks."
 
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