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Discussion Starter #1
I happened to be driving by one of the various Mazda dealerships in suburban Chicago this evening, and was shocked to see several 3 models parked outside. I immediately pulled in to make sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. Indeed they weren't. They had two hatches and two sedans, both really spec'd out. Unfortunately, no manual trannies. While the northwest Chicago area is quite affluent, such is the explanation for the first shipment of cars to arrive being top of the line models ... however, most of the affluent snobs to which I just referred have an aversion to manual transmissions. :roll: They just don't sell as much.

Either way, I was fortunate enough to get acquainted with a very young and cool salesperson. We took a spin in a 3s and I gave her quite a whirl. Being that the car is nearly everything I expected, I can find little to complain about at this point, however I was unable to look at it in any close detail seeing as it was very dark, and very cold, and nobody wants to be outside in those conditions. They had no showroom models, so it was only a test drive, and I say that the car is "nearly" everything I expected because my biggest complaint was the seemingly low amount of power. I expected a lot more punch for 160hp. Perhaps it was because it was an auto 4-speed, or perhaps it was because I wasn't driving it all that hard, but I expected more. The chassis response is great, just like the Protege but with a heavier feel. Still, it does not have the obvious weight of the Mazda6. Whether or not this is a good thing I'm still not sure of. I have driven the 6, and for some reason, the 3 just doesn't feel as agile. I would have expected the 3 to be more agile. The 6 had more heft and yet seems to make lane changes quicker and turns with a bit more smoothness than the 3. The 3 is spritely but lacks the punch and zip that I expected after having driven a 6. In this respect, perhaps you could say that is the taste of Ford shining through? I know, I don't like to make the suggestion either, I wanted to believe the 3 was like a Protege-sized 6, but it's still more like the Protege. This is not to say the driving experience is lacking, however, only that the 3 and 6 still feel like very different cars.

I thought the interior lighting with the luminescent gauges was very cool, the blue is not overbearing and does not contrast heavily against the red like I thought it would. There is even a soft blue light in front of the shifter that casts some ambient blue light along the bottom console. The console display is very much like the six, with messages like "Hello!" and similar readout placement, only with an orange glow instead of red. The model I drove didn't have the xenon light + tire pressure monitor package option, so I can't comment on that, and it was too cold to screw with the moonroof, so I didn't touch that. I didn't tinker with the radio either because I'm gonna replace it anyway ... sorry non-audiophiles -- but then again, since you aren't audiophiles, I guess you don't care how it sounds anyway, right? :p

I can't think of much else to point out that we don't already know. I am just a bit disappointed with the power almost to the point of being inclined to wait for a Mazdaspeed3. I've driven the Mazdaspeed Protege and would like similar response and power. Personally, I can bear to wait another year or so, and would love to see how it handles with 200+hp, a 5-speed, and an even tighter suspension. I think I will hold out a year for Mazda to work out any bugs and give it the Mazdaspeed treatment. :wink:
 

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Nice and thorough review!
 

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well..change the intake and i think the 3 will have better torque....
i haven't test drove one yet...but i am going to...
i will watch the (-) comments and test it out myself...
good review!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
At what point in the history of the automotive industry did putting in a low restriction intake equate to such improved performance? Or is this just the general ignorance of the import tuner crowd as per usual?
 

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There was a guy on a TSX forum that spent over $1500 on mod'ing the intake, exhaust, and header. He had access to a dyno too. After doing all of this, he got a boost of just 13hp. No report on changes in torque.
 

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were u driving the v6 m6? or the the 4 cyn. m6??
 

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Nice review :)
I guess for me driving 78 hp of 1985 goodness, anything with 160 hp would "seem" fast to me :p
But a few other reviewers have mentioned that the 160 hp engine was only a bit more faster than the 148 hp engine.
 

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The car should be ok-fast but keep this in mind:

1. Mazda's ATs suck a lot of powr. You will drive a different car if it's MT.
2. Once the engine breaks in properly - and usually demo cars are trashed, it will feel different.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Dinu,

I agree on both points ... once an engine is broken in, it definetely performs a certain way and over time you learn to drive it the right way. I've learned how to get every last drop of power out of my Civic's 1.6 without much tinkering. :)

I would still like to try the 5-speed to see how it goes, but I may still keen to wait for the Mazdaspeed3. That will allow me to save up more cash anyway!
 

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If you drove a 6 with a V-6, it should feel zippier than a 3 w/2.3L. The hp to weight ratio on the 6 is much better.

This would even more true if you drove a manual 6 v-6 vs a 3 w/2.3L & auto.
 

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dugrant153 said:
Nice review :)
I guess for me driving 78 hp of 1985 goodness, anything with 160 hp would "seem" fast to me :p
But a few other reviewers have mentioned that the 160 hp engine was only a bit more faster than the 148 hp engine.
Well I drive a mustang and the 3 with the AT seemed fast to me, I know it won't be as quick as the mustang or many other cars, but I don't care, it's more than fast enough for me.

Speed and Acceleration is totally subjective, so I don't think we should put much weight on other people's opinion on how quick or agile or fast is... that's what the test drives are for, so we can make up our own minds.
 

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I own a 3s with teh Sport AT transmission (parents wouldnt allow a manual in the family). What I have discovered is taht the gas pedal has alot more travel in it than other cars that I have driven (mostly BMWs). There is a good amount of play in it, but then I discovered that you can push it even further and then you really get the car to go. There is almost no doubt in my mind, that the 2.3 is fast enough for amount any person out there. Although, I cant help but be intrigued by a MazdaSpeed variant.
 

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hey dinu..

i see you mentioned a maxima in your post...

I have a maxima as well and i love it for the speed and comfort.. but its getting a little old...

how much power does the mazda3s lack compared to a maxima my max is a 4th gen.. 190hp

thanks
 
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