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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

Ok, I went to an appropriate place in Toronto today and sure enough, I found one Mazda3 (red sedan, same one as from the Vancouver port pics).

So I took out my camera and in less than a minute of taking pics ... I got caught. A guy was coming towards me and used the keyless to unlock the car. I politely asked if my picture taking was ok and he said sure.

He did even more than that, he opened the car up, showed it off for me and even let me start it up, all while I was taking pictures. We chatted for about 15min, and then he had to go. But since we were in a non-public underground, I asked if he could drive me back up to where I parked my car. So, I got into the passenger seat and got a 2min ride in the Mazda3. It was manual, or else I would have asked if I could drive it myself.

This is the first time I've seen this vehicle in real life (and obviously the first time I rode in one), so here's my impressions:

- looks great in person (better than the pics). It looks compact and very coupe-like on the outside, but there's TONS of room inside (including the back) and in the trunk. It also clearly has that 'athletic tension' that all new-gen Mazda's have.
- seats felt amazing, very supportive yet very soft and comfortable (I have an internal Mazda graph that compares the Mazda3 seats to the Golf and BMW 3-series in terms of 'support', 'ride', 'holding' and 'softness feel'. Being a Mazda graph, of course the Mazda3 seats beats them both, but now that I've sat in it I can confirm that they're very nice). But I have to say this caveat, I'm a small & thin person, and I could see the seats maybe being too small for very large folks.
- the steering-wheel feels awesome, not a surprise given that it's taken directly from the RX-8
- seating position is high (so great view of the road), but there's still good headroom and I was very impressed with the amount of room in the backseat
- like the other new-gen Mazdas, the center display says 'Hello' when you start up the car
- the radio is very, very cool. When you turn the volume up or down, the horizontal led-like lights around the buttons light-up in the direction you turn the volume knob. The documentation I have says that Mazda did this so it seems like the car interacts with you. Also, even though we were in an underground, the radio reception was perfect, and it sounded pretty good too (it sounded as good as the standard radio in the RSX I was in today, but I'm not an audiophile).
- the glove compartment is HUGE. Plus, it's dampered, very upscale.

- the vehicle had the 16-inch alloys, and as we rode up from the underground, it was very smooth. He also took some corners somewhat fast and there is like NO body-roll. Overall, the ride is very, very refined, very smooth but this car can clearly perform as well
- the 2.0l engine started up very smooth and is very quiet. At idle, the 2.0l had less vibration than the RSX I was in today

The guy confirmed that the vehicle (and I'm pretty sure all the vehicles from those Vancouver pics), was euro-spec. They are using them as test mules (e.g. checking out the specs, testing it on our roads, squeak & rattle testing, etc...). The red sedan I was in was the only one on site - he wouldn't tell me where the others were.

The guy said that the Mazda3 would reach Canada around mid-November, which further confirms my info.
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