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Discussion Starter #1
First things first. I was with my younger sister and I dropped by the Brown Fairfax Mazda dealership on Lee Highway around noon. I had no intention of actually driving a Mazda 3, I just wanted to ogle, and convince my sister just what a SEX MACHINE the Mazda 3 really is.

I fully expected to be ignored; I look like I'm 17, and I must have looked like a kid in a candy store drooling over the showroom RX-8 and Mazda 3. I was very surprised when a salesman approached me and offered to show me around the car. I had memorized just about all the Mazda 3's features by this point, thanks mostly to you guys on this board.

Well, we sat down and I mentioned that I may be in the market for a Mazda 3 within a year or so, and that I would be graduating from college, and so on. I also detailed the exact trim package I wanted (Ti gray, 5spd, 2.3l, etc etc) as he took down some notes. I was about ready to leave, having had a great experience already, when out of the blue, he offers to let me test drive a Mazda 3 with the exact trim package I had discussed. I about pooped myself.

THE TEST DRIVE

Off the bat, I was impressed how absolutely QUIET the 3 is. Outside, at idle, I could hear it but barely. Inside with the door shut and at idle, it was near dead silent inside.

The interior was black/red cloth, the seats felt like a million bucks. Adjustable lumbar support, vertical adjustment and so on allowed a short guy like me to put the seat exactly where I wanted it. I was also impressed with the tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Gauges/stick were all in excellent positions, as were the audio controls. Those blue/silver gauges are stunning! I was pleasantly surprised at the visibility to the sides and rear.

Once we were underway, I noticed that the car had an acceleration curve that was quite flat, no unexpected jumps like my Honda, and no lag like my Jetta. Once again, very quiet ride, smooth and the suspention soaked up the imperfections in the road without complaints. Since I asked to test an automatic, I checked out the sport shift. Here I was a bit underwhelmed. It was fun, simple and almost idiot proof, but since the engine is so quiet, I had trouble hearing when to upshift or downshift. I imagine that I'll have this problem with the 5 speed as well.

As I drove, I noticed a lot of heads turning, and some people outright staring. It appears I'm not the only one who thinks the Mazda 3 is a sex machine! Anyhow, we got to some twisties, and the car took turns at 45 mph with confidence, excellent linear brakes, once again even and smooth progression. In an empty parking lot, I was very impressed by the TIGHT turning radius of the car. I mean TIGHT. I am confident I can can pull a U turn on a two lane road, something that even my jetta might require a 3 point turn to do.

Since it was daylight, I couldnt see the xenon headlights or the nighttime gauge illumination, but I'll be back to check that out later.

On the open highway, I can see how easy it is to speed. 65mph does not feel like 65 mph, it feels more like 45 or 50 in a Honda Accord. Smooth, quiet, and very refined. In short, this car feels way more expensive than it actually is.

So, while I may have to sell a kidney to pay off this car, I wont have to sell both. $17,500 isnt bad for such a refined machine.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
My pleasure!

Some things I forgot to mention:

Glove box is deep enough to store a small child; that thing is DEEP (I guess 18" at least). The sedan comes with a 16" spare, but unfortunately since its not full size, you're still limited to 50mph. The trunk itself is spacious enough to hold four upright suitcases, but I dont know how you'd get them in there. The short trunk deck means that the opening is small and deep.

Rear seat space isnt a joke, but then again, I'm short. Overhead space is ample enough to fit my 6'4" German friend, and entry/egress is likewise spacious. The short doors allow me to exit in a tight parking spot. Ok, I'm done
 
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