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Discussion Starter #1
Silver GS Sedan w/Power+Sport Packages SportAT (no MTs available yet). Grey/Black Interior. It was a solo test drive - well almost (no Mazda rep, just my friend and I). Toronto Avante - Big thanks to Eddie (Sales Manager) for the test drive!

Exterior Styling: Like it (a lot!). The car had 16" alloys. I want the red, but can't stand the beige interior. Would look better with the black tail lights. Looks European from the rear not great, not bad (think Sentra) either.

Seating Position: The tilt+telescoping steering wheel works well with the seat adjustment to create a good driving position. I do wish however to be able to incline the seat at an angle as you can do in the PRO - it's a wish rather than a problem with the car. The driving position is good, but is geared towards comfort rather than a sporty stance.

Seats: The seats are great! Besides their ability to adjust properly without fuss, they have a deeper bucket than the PRO and are more supportive IMO. They are firm, but not harsh - should be great for long drives where proper posture is important to keep you awake and without sore muscles on your arrival. The material was also good and while I can live with the grey/black pattern and be happy with it, I really can't get myself to like the beige - and I want red one.

Controls: Easy to reach. The steering-wheel mounted radio controls were great. The MUTE button was VERY helpful when I wanted to hear the engine right away and shut the radio off. Everything (radio, HVAC, cupholders, armrest bin) is within an easy reach.

Sound System: The radio is OK for me. Similar to that of the P5 - but then again I'm not an audiophile, so what do I know? I know I'm happy with it.

Interior Feel: The top of the dash is made of hard plastic but also incorporates textured plastics that make it look more upscale (in a $20K kind of way). The hand brake's plastic could have been rubber for better grip, but then again, when I did use it to make a 180 degree turn (just kidding!)... It's fine. Seriously :) What I liked the best is how the top of the doors has a hard but textured black plastic that is not rounded but rather "squarish" - made me feel like I was driving something more expensive. Same feel I got b/c of the dash - yes it's higher, but it's not higher than that of the PRO - it's higher b/c the WHOLE car sits higher off the ground.

Interior Room: Headroom, even with the sunroof should be OK for ppl up to 6'1" or 6'2" - remember you can lower the seat pan! Leg room - even in the back, there was plenty.

Trunk: Ok so it has a weird opening; you'll have to fold your cargo. It's large enough to fit 1 body... Larger than the PROs at a glance, although some juggling might be required to fit certain objects.

Now the good part - The actual drive

Noise: Minimal. MUCH less than the PRO. This is a quiet car. It's no recording studio, but it's quiet. I like it.

Ride: Feels VERY Germanic (think A4 here circa 1998-1999) - still sporty, but had a way of soaking bumps that didn't rattle your insides. Very composed over potholes and joints on bridges, etc. Better than the PRO? The chassis FELT stiffer/more composed. Is it an improvement? Yes, although I can't pinpoint why. Do I prefer it to the PRO's rodeo ride? Oh yeah!!!

Braking: Like the PRO. Great/amazing/best in class. No complaints here. At all.

Acceleration: This was the 2.0L engine w/SportAT. Put it in Sport mode and did the shifting myself. Car had almost 800kms on it IIRC. It's not a slouch. Kept up with traffic just fine. I usually drove it conservatively and once once or twice went above 3500RPMs. Out-accelerated a 2000-2003 Maxima from a light - the Maxima didn't crunch it and neither did I: I just pressed a little more. It goes to 80km/h quickly!!! The fact that the speedo needle shows 8-9 o'clock when you're travelling at that speed is NOT helpful! I found it difficult to find the speedo needle and had to lift off the gas many times b/c I was going faster than the limit. It should have been set-up the normal way - 100 around the 12PM position. Faster than the PRO? Perhaps. Can't tell - needs more Ks on it to better assess it. But I would have no complaints even if I had to have an AT 3.

Cornering: Great grip from the Toyo tires! The car corners as well as the PRO, although in the PRO you feel it more. The 3 is higher off the ground too - something to keep in mind. As the 3 is more "civilized", you need to drive it faster to get the same kicks you would get in the PRO at lower speeds. There's little body lean on a simulated emergency lane change maneuver (Dinu's elk test) I tried at about 40-45km/h which freaked out the girl I was with [not a friend, not GF, something in b/w for those of you that are dying to know :)]. I then did the same thing in the PRO (after the test drive), but I did it at 60km/h and it felt more connected to the road. She freaked out less then - is it b/c the PRO felt more planted or because she was already in a state of shock from before, that we'll never know :)

Steering feel: The PRO's is better. That I know for sure. The 3 is good. Very good. Better than what we can buy at the price in NA without a doubt. But it's no PRO...

Hopefully I covered the major points.

Overall: While the PRO feels faster and a touch (very very little) more agile, the 3 is more civilized and will reward you with comfort and fun. As I said before, it has a certain A4 influence to it in its ride and balance b/w comfort and fun. I do prefer it to the PRO, although I wish the 3 kept the PRO ES/P5's white on black gauges with 100 km/h set where it belongs and where you can see it easily and it's more communicative steering. For the $21000CAD + interest + taxes that the 3GS+Power+Sport retails in Canada, there's no doubt in my mind that this is my next car.
 

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A good, detailed review, Dinu. :D I too, test drove a GS sedan ATX a couple of weeks ago, & here are a few more observations:
- I found the dash a tad high, although the adjustable seat height really helped. Overall the outward view is quite good, although the left blind spot check is a little obstructed due to the B pillar.
- Openings for rear doors are a little narrow, but likely comparable to other cars in this class.
- The red console & gauge lighting is very captivating. However, I am not too sure if it will bother me if I have to stare at that every night. I think the blue background, which is standard on the GT, will help.
- Ventilation & Wipers: I forgot to check them out - did you get a chance to try them?

Overall I was very impressed with the package, power & price. But I think I will likely go with the GT sedan ($1500 more) since you get the bigger engine, wheels & other goodies. Seems like too good of a deal to pass up!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the comments guys!

I have orange on the PRO and it's relaxing at night - maybe too relaxing :)
 

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well done review. you covered pretty much everything.

something i'd like to add: if the driver is 5'10" or taller, there isn't much room for the person sitting behind the driver. and i've noticed that its difficult to squeeze out through that door, and the person will mostly likely bang their foot into the door, right where the rear speaker is!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well it's no Audi in terms of 0-60, but as a 4cyl engine in a car at this price, it's above my expectations. Well done Mazda!
 

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Sweet review! a few questions

Great review! Do you recall if that 3 has any sort of security features? An alarm of some sort? And do all the trim levels include the remote entry? Does the remote entry include trunk release?

One thing that worries me, is since I only have a few months experience driving stick, is the engine too quiet to hear when I should shift, especially if people are talking/musc playing?

Oh, and when youre driving, how do the pedals feel? I've heard that the pedals are too small or too close together. I'll see if I can drop by my local Mazda dealership soon to add to your review. Cheers!

P.S. I've heard that you can get over $15,000 for a healthy human kidney on the black market, since there are desperate people waiting for a transplant. My kidney, plus the trade in for my Jetta means I could afford a Mazda 3 . . . .
 

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Re: Sweet review! a few questions

DedGuyWalkin said:
Oh, and when youre driving, how do the pedals feel? I've heard that the pedals are too small or too close together. I'll see if I can drop by my local Mazda dealership soon to add to your review. Cheers!
The best thing to answer this is to test the car yourself.
Personally I found the clutch and the brake pedals are too close together.

P.S. I've heard that you can get over $15,000 for a healthy human kidney on the black market, since there are desperate people waiting for a transplant. My kidney, plus the trade in for my Jetta means I could afford a Mazda 3 . . . .
That's a hoax. :)
 
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