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On my visit at home, I stopped by the dealership and they had 3 hatches and 1 sedan. I have pics and as soon as I have time, I'll post them. The sedan was black, the hatches were strato blue(?), lava orange, and silver. But I didn't test drive any b/c Champion Mazda in Owensboro, KY, called this morning so I stopped by there on my way back to BG.

I don't know if my review will be as good as others b/c I was in shock the whole time I drove it. It's a Black Mica 3s, btw. But here goes:

Exterior: The black is very elegant. The wheels were 17" and beautiful. The car didn't look as tall as I had expected. Definitely not the Corolla-look.

Interior: The interior was black/red. The two tone cloth was kind of rough feeling, but since it's only part of it, it was ok. The steering wheel is awesome. The gauges are very RX-8-like and the red is very easy to read. The only thing I don't like is the speedometer starts to far down, so 45 mph is around the 8pm or 9pm area and it made it kidn of hard to decipher. I got up to 75 without realizing it. The trim was very VW-ish.

Trunk: The trunk is wierd. The deck lid is very short, so the part (not sure what the correct term is) with the mazda logo is very bulky and got in the way when I opened the trunk. The opening is big on the rear, but not on the top, but the trunk is gigantic.

Braking: Compared to my Protege, it's very sensitive. I almost gave the salesman whiplash I think. Very nice response though.

Steering: Turned like butta. Didn't really notice anything bad.

Audio: Nice audio I guess. I like the ALC feature where it compensates for engine and road noise. Also, nobody I don't think has mentioned the lights on the audio controls on the dash. I don't know how to explain it, but the bar between the buttons reacts when you change the station or volume. Very cool!

Ride/Handling: I think it's very comparable to the 6. Road noise wasn't as bad as I had expected.

Response: It had lots of get up and go, considering I was driving an automatic. Didn't really punch it too hard (I was being nice). Don't know if I like the sport tranny. It was okay though.

Overall: I had to wipe the drool off my mouth. It was very nice, and I look forward to purchasing one.

If you have any questions, ask me. I may be able to tell you.

Also, if you are in the Owensboro area, Champion Mazda is awesome. They weren't pushy at all, and very good guys to talk to. Much better than any of the other dealers I have worked with! Kudos!
 

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did you feel like u had total control of the car?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
funkyfreshmonke said:
did you feel like u had total control of the car?
Yes, it was very responsive whether you were pressing the gas, turning, and especially braking (compared to the Protege).

I think I forgot to mention the sound of the doors. It is a "woompfh" sound. The turn signal sound also reminds me of the Focus, but not as loud.
 

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good point about the speedometer starting too low, "at around 8pm"
i thought the same thing too, i was going 90km without even realizing it
 

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Discussion Starter #8
anamnesis said:
schulkw said:
Rockinblue said:
Nice review. Was your car equipped with HID?
Yes.
Why didn't you include this detail in your review? Nobody has addressed the quality of the HID system, that's a big detail to leave out ...

It was sunny outside. I didn't really look.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
6_funk said:
good point about the speedometer starting too low, "at around 8pm"
i thought the same thing too, i was going 90km without even realizing it
Of course, I'm used to my Protege, but I just think it starts out too low. I would expect the 45/55mph to be at the 12pm position, but I guess it's just something we'll have to get used to.
 

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Mazda did this to be in the same likeness as high end sports cars. As an example, I know that several late model Ferraris have similar gauge layouts, with the needles pointed straight down at 180 degrees instead of at 225 degrees. The design was entirely intentional to evoke that sporty look.
 

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I find the interior a little cramped. My right leg is constantly nrushing up agains the console. The rear seats are meant for small children. as well. I am around 6'0 as well. I still love the car though, just voicing my concerns
 

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funkyfreshmonke said:
i dunno im 5'11, and i fit fine...hmm...
The car is just about perfect for me. I'm 5'9 or so.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I'm 5'10" and I thought it was more than enough.
 

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Tomorrow I'm heading down to the local Arlington, TX dealer and see if they have the MZ3 yet.
 

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Drivers seat goes back pretty far and also adjusts vertically for a higher or lower ride (shorter or taller people). The steering wheel also telescopes towards you if you need to sit father back. Because of this, I'm a 6'1" person who had AMPLE space in the car. Just adjust the seat right.
 

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i'm 5'11" and found there to be enough room.
i also noticed that MT and AT have quite a bit to do with the seating.
when i drove the MT, i sat one notch closer cuz i had to use my left leg for the clutch.
 

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I test drove a Mazda3s Sedan with sport package and moonroof package yesterday. I am 6'0' and i found there to be plenty of room and my friend sat behind me and said that the leg room for the back seat passenger was fine, but probably not good for very long trips. It may be because i'm used to driving my mom's '03 cavalier but i found that the breaking wasn't as responsive as it is on the cavalier. Other than that, it's 100x better! I was amazed at the get-up-and-go that i could get from the auto tranny. I will also have to agree with the other posts about the spedo... very easy to go faster than you intend because of the starting point. I don't think 55 in a 35 is legal... oops! :oops:
 

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i finally got to see the base mz3s sedan and hatch in person last night.. i didn't get a chance to thoroughly analyze it, but i did go around the car a few times looking at the lines and craftsmanship... i then went inside to see what all the fuss is about.. granted, it's hard not to be biased due to the fact that i currently drive a G35, i tried my best to keep things in perspective given this is a compact, near-economy car whereas the G35 is more of midsize luxury car..

anyway, the exterior was flawless.. very very euro.. very chic.. mazda did a good job crafting this baby.. the projector lights are gorgeous and everything is as it should be.. except for maybe the mazda emblem on the back.. that sucker is huge.. i might have to debadge or do something about that.. the roof-mounted antenna is "eh".. i wouldn't liked something less wirey.. actually, i really like the windshield integrated antennas, but it's much better than a rear or front mounted antenna.. if it had to be put on the car, the rear was a much better alternative.. other than those two things, this car is beautiful.. you have to see this car in person.. as cool as it looks in the pics, it's so much better in person.. i wish i could've seen the full range of colors, but the only ones they had were the black and t grey..

the inside was great, but more on the "so-so" level.. i was in a cloth version, so i've yet to see what it's like with leather, but everything looked nice but u can also tell that this was still an economy car.. instrument panel was pretty cool, but i would've gone more with the illuminated characters and dark background rather than orange background and black characters.. the orange doesn't match up well with the gauge cluster but it's not bad.. also, the knobs in the euro version are much cooler.. they have the circular knobs for temp and intensity rather than the notch-like knob.. it would have been nice to be able to get a titanium instrument panel instead of the straight black.. perhaps that can be added later.. a panel much like the mz6 would've been really great.. or one much closer to the rx-8. the gauge cluster is nice.. the blue and red accents were great.. very vw-ish, but better. you get a feel of what true sports cars are like. i saw first hand how u could easily speed in this car since the mph markers are at different points than the conventional car.. also, i'm use to the tachometer being on the right.. it'll take some getting use to.. overall, the controls and displays were nice.. not up to par with real luxury cars, but pretty close for a sub $20K vehicle.

the center console was a little small, but all the other compartments in the car greatly made up for it. the glove box is huge.. i bet i could easily fit my head in there.. the cup holders in the side compartments of every door are a neat feature.. only one of the seatbacks had a storage pocket though.. but i never really used those things anyway.. the hatch didn't have fold down armrest for the rear seats.. i didn't get to see if it was the same case for the sedan.. but that's not a big deal. the trunk in the sedan is huge.. it doesn't look like it would be from the outside, but once u get in there, u really can see the storage capabilities of this car.. trunk space is a big deal for me, so seeing the mz3 doesn't lack in that department was a huge plus.

the doors were alright.. i kept forgetting this was a compact car when i was swinging the doors open and closed.. they seemed really light to me.. but then i realized i was trying to compare them to my midsize.. they did have a nice clean sound when closed, though.. hopefully that lasts.. nothing worse than a rattling sound when u close a car door.. that's a big indicator of a cheap design and cheap craftsmanship.. american cars come to mind when i think of this...

i didn't get to test the sound system all too much.. just had the radio on.. the radio was ok. a cd would've been better. i'm not an audiophile, so the system will be sufficient for me.. but i could see how others might want to do an upgrade.. esp. for bass..

the engine was cool.. the covers give much to be desired since u can see the actual engine, but everything is clean and well placed... the intake was a little small.. at least the opening was... that might have to be replaced with an aftermarket part.. there's plenty of room for a turbo in the back and left area of the car.. looks like there's definitely room for some enhancements for this engine.. we'll see what mazdaspeed churns out.. also, i'd like to see what options come out for the exhaust.. the engine has much potential, but so does the exhaust.. configured properly, you'll get a nice power upgrade and great sound coming out of this car.. i would've liked the hydraulic front hood system on this car but then that's expecting too much.. i'm not sure if even the rx-8 has that, though.

now for the drive... keep in mind, this is a base s sedan.. no sport, no moonroof, no xenons, no abs. just the 2.3L engine and 4 sp AT.
this sucker is quick.. i wasn't expecting it to be that fast off the line, but it was.. i only drove it for about a mile, so didn't get to do much extensive testing so i'll have to do that next time.. i did take a big turn around a cul de sac at a fairly high speed... it seemed to handle that pretty well.. the acceleration was great in the low end, but sort of peters out in the high.. i floored it and didn't get that boost that i'm use to in my current car.. when i get a chance to do some highway testing on the car, i'll see just how timid this baby is.. there was a nice sporty sound coming out of the engine/exhaust though. very nice. maybe the addition of an intake and exhaust will help improve the high end torque.. hopefully. i didn't get to check the blind spots, if any, but will next time. the overall cabin view was good and the braking made me feel pretty confident. steering was easy and responsive. the manual mode wasn't the best i've tried, but was good enough for a car in this class. cabin noise was very minimal.. that's a big plus.. we'll have to see how it is in high speeds though.

overall, i liked this car a lot.. the look, the drive, the feel.. mazda went above and beyond for this car. it's not perfect, but is pretty darn close. all for less than $20K. other cars in the class really need to get on the ball now. once mazda shows its reliability when it comes to the engine and build quality of the car, the other companies won't be able to tough them.. they already got the great looks and fun-to-drive components down.. the only thing keeping hondas and toyotas up top are they're reputation.. but after seeing the mz3 and experiencing the zoom-zoom for myself.. all i can really think of when i hear honda or toyota is.. dud-dud.. when it comes down to it.. if u had to spend that much for a car, the mz3 is the way to go.. you're crazy if you don't... u can either get an ugly car with a nice engine.. or a beautiful car with a nice engine... i think the right choice is clear.. definitely rethink what's possible..

[next time, i'll play with the switches and handles and push the car a little more to see how it rides and responds.. things might look and feel a little different in a more loaded version (i.e. the one i have on order) with abs, xenons, sport, moonroof/cd, etc.. i'll give another review once that one comes in.]
 
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