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Managed to test drive the Mazda3 yesterday (after having to hang around for about half an hour waiting for the people before me to finish their test drive...). Both the dealerships I went to were packed with people looking at the Mazda3, and no one was getting a drive without a booking.

(BTW, both dealerships, Rolfe Mazda and Slaven Mazda in Phillip and Belconnen respectively, were coping with the huge influx of people really badly.)

The only one they had available to test drive there was a Maxx Sport in Winning Blue. They had half a dozen different colours in the other ones sitting on the floor, but the Winning Blue was clearly the best colour. Changed my mind about what colour to get - I was going to buy the Black, but after seeing the Blue I think I'll get it.

Anyway, the test drive car was a Maxx Hatchback. Took a couple of goes with the key to actually get it to start, but I think that might just have been me not giving it enough time to start properly.

Handled very smoothly in first getting out of the lot, good range of power available. But putting it into second once out on the road showed a real lack of 'oomph' in second gear. I think the ratios are such that it's not a bad idea to stay in first a lot longer than with most cars. I really noticed the lack of power in second whenever I took a corner in that gear, and it took what seemed like ages to get back up to the sweet spot for the engine.

That said, I think it's something that you could adjust to fairly easily, just have to get used to putting a bit more accelerator into second to get results, and using first a bit more.

Other than that very minor quibble, the handling is great. Very little road noise that I could notice, and the engine is very quiet too. Lots of power, didn't really notice any of the hills that I threw at it. Didn't have a chance to take it up to 100km/h, so I'll have to try that next drive. But overall it seemed like a really well handling, well powered car.

While I was there, I had a look at the boot on the Sedan and the Hatch - good amount of space on both, although it looked (to my eye) like there was actually a bit more space in the Sedan.

Also noticed that the spare tire is one of those horrible space saver wheels. But fortunately that's not something you need often, but it would have been nice to have a real wheel there.

Overall I thought it was really impressive, and certainly head and shoulders above the other test drives I've done (Astra/Focus/Corolla/etc).

However, the important question for buying it is this - which colour to get. At the moment I'm keen to get a Neo, but they didn't have the Winning Blue Neo. So I haven't been able to see what the cloth trim on the seats looks like. It looks pretty horrible on the website, but so does the grey/grey trim for the Neo, which looked OK in person. Has anyone seen the grey/blue trim for the Neo? I've tried finding a pic of it on the web, but haven't had any luck.

Astaroth
 

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Astaroth: Ive sat in the Neo with blue trims and I always thought the material was velour from pictures I have seen, but it is some other material. I think getting Winning blue with the blue/grey interior suits it well.







 

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That sucks that you get power windows for the front windows only, yet you get auto climate control and navigation. That seems odd to me.

Edit: the pictures are out of two different cars, sorry :)
 

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It all depends on how much one can spend, I personally would like to get the Maxx with black interior but at its out of my price league.

Mazda6 Classic has a grey interior but the Limited has a black interior, seems like the trim levels are reversed on this model.

For the price of the neo, the interior is well presented and good quality materials used, also its a lot better than competitors. BTW the orange grey interior is not nice.
 
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