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Im looking into getting a Mazda3 5 door. I have not have had a chance to test drive a 3 yet. I was wondering if the car handles similar to the VW gulf, I guess Im afraid because the cars are some what similar and I hated how the gulf felt. So what cars handle/feel similar to the 3?
thanks guys
PS I live about 45minutes from Philadelphia PA if anyone knows of any deals on hatchback 3s.
later niko
 

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What is a VW Gulf? :lol:

Anyways, the easy answer to your question is to go test drive the car yourself. I have not driven a GOlf before but I've rode in my friend's VW JUtta before and the ride feels the same. ??? Not too sure, just go for a test drive!

And to answer your question, no car in the economy class handles like the 3, period.
 

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Imo, even with the extensive suspension work I done to my Jetta, I thought it handled like shit. Body rolls way too much, and its the sheer weight thats the disadvantage.

2000+ VWs have been known to handle like crap stock. The 3 blows VW away in the stock vs stock category. And as aftermarket parts come out, there wont be no stopping a suspension modded 3.

My fav car for handling: my 1992 VW GTI. It can outhandle anything (when I had it). It was slammed to the floor almost 3" and one time I chased a Vette going around the mountain passes in Boulder, and he couldnt shake me off if his life depended on it.
 

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I would compare the Mazda3's handling to that of a Ford Focus since the suspension was made by Ford Europe. I have a friend with a Focus and the one and ONLY thing that he likes about it is the suspension. Other than the great suspension, the 2001 Ford Focus has had 11 recalls. After the suspension was made by Ford Europe, it was tuned by Mazda.

One of the great handling features is the small turning diameter, 34.1 feet (curb to curb). This is better than a Jeep Wrangler which is supposed to have one of the best turning diameters. If you do a test drive, go to an empty parking lot and test it out, it might surprise you.
 

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The 3 handles weird, but in a good way. :bigsmile:

Let me explain.

When you are just driving in a "spirited" manner, there is very little body roll. Quick lane changes are easy to snap off. Turn in is excellent and the body takes a quick set, thanks to firmer-than-usual bushings and whatnot. Add this to the firm-yet-compliant tuning of the shocks, and you feel like you are driving a 3-series BMW. I am not joking. I think the seats also contribute to this feeling because it is firm, well shaped, and bolsters the body correctly. It's a driver's car.

But when pushed hard, the 3 exhibits quite a bit of body roll. This is somewhat of a mystery to me. Maybe the 3 is in need of some progressive springs? Who knows. I am not really complaining because except for the body roll and the related delay in making quick transitions, the car handles well. The grip is excellent, and there seems to be no limit on how hard the car can turn. I've taken corners 10 miles faster than I've ever gone before and the tires have yet to squeal. The handling stays neutral at high speeds and I have yet to be able to induce and oversteer or understeer.

In comparison, my wife's '01 sentra oversteers somewhat off throttle. This has been fun last night and this morning when I was able to do some rally-style driving in the snow. Run into a corner fast, turn-in, feel the rear end come around, counter steer, add throttle, and pull around the corner. Weeeeeeee!

My old '02 Accord had understeer, typical of FWD cars tuned for stability. On highway ramps, you notice that as you push the car faster, the car steers less. So you can't go any faster. I changed all that with some new rear sway bars. The car now understeers very slightly, and requires some throttle input to keep the rear end following the front end. Along with a manual transmission, this was really fun to drive.

The 3 handles very neutral. Maybe I just haven't reached the upper limit of the car yet, because only then will oversteer/understeer show through, depending on which pair of tires lose traction first. I have gone up and down ramps crazy fast, one time trying to keep up with an EVO that was gunning it. I almost lost my nerves as the car leaned so much. My wife yelled at me but it was worth it. :tongue: Yet the tires didn't make a single sound and the car just held on the road, no over or under steer detected. It felt like I could push it harder. With a lateral acceleration of .87, it's higher than any car I've driven before. And all that in a wagon.

VW? There's no need for a comparison. The GTI/Jetta/Golf has all the roughness and none of the handling. Other than good exterior looks, the small VWs have nothing going for them. The engines are rough and unrefined, the interiors are drab and cheap, the suspension has genuine Pig On Stilts (tm) setting. Teutonic land bargettes they are.
 

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I read in Autoweek that Mazda was attempting to make the 3 "feel like a rear wheel drive car". Does it actually feel like its' pushing through the turns like a RWD/AWD car does, or are they just saying they tried to eliminate torque steer?
 

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Torque steer is not what makes a car feel like front wheel drive. Torque steer only plague those FWD cars that are improperly designed.

I have no idea if the 3 feels like a rear wheel drive car. But such a behavior would mean oversteer at the limits.
 

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LeeLee said:
I have no idea if the 3 feels like a rear wheel drive car. But such a behavior would mean oversteer at the limits.
The 3 does not feel RWD. And not all RWD cars oversteer at the limit; there are plent that understeer. It's all in the suspension setup.

RWD "feel" is not something that can be quantified in any one quality. When you're driving, however, you can feel that a RWD car is "pushing" to accelerate, while a FWD car is "pulling". When you're using the same set of wheels to accelerate and steer the car, you get a completely different feel than using one set to steer and one set to accelerate. It has nothing to do with at the limit characteristics.
 

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I would say the two drawbacks of the 3:
- not RWD
- not AWD

Other than that, schedule the test on all cars. Only you can make up your own mind. I have a friend chasing a WRX, only because he wants AWD - why, I have no idea (although he does go up to Tahoe and ski a lot).
 

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I don't think the handling of the Mazda3 will benefit from RWD or AWD. Not with only 160HP, or even 200HP. It's a compact car on a relatively light chassis (at least the sedan is). FWD is not a handicap for such a setup.
 

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I drove the VW Golf V 2.0 TDI before I bought the Mazda. The only thing the Golf had going for it, was the engine. Interiour and space was around the same, perhaps the Golf was a little more spacious than the M3, but it is minimal.
The M3 feels much more sporty in its driving abilities, compared to the Golf. I think the two cars are very different in their setup, so you should definately give it a try.

Regarding RWD, I can't see why you would want RWD or AWD in a car, if it has below 200 HP, unless you live in the outback... ;)
 

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RWD is certainly not needed with the 3 by any means. It does feel a lot more like a RWD car as far as handling is concerned than any other FWD car I've owned over the years. The turn in and feel when sweeping out of corners and accelerating has a lot of the qualities that make RWD cars fun to toss around.
 

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tru... tru...

I was really after the comparison to a WRX, no matter how ugly it is.... So I was really just after the AWD.
 

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LeeLee said:
Torque steer only plague those FWD cars that are improperly designed.
i dont think torque steer has anything to do with design
every fwd car with lots of power has it, if it could be 'designed out' dont you think it would be?

anyways, if you had an explanation that would be good, im interested
 

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NASTY said:
LeeLee said:
Torque steer only plague those FWD cars that are improperly designed.
i dont think torque steer has anything to do with design
every fwd car with lots of power has it, if it could be 'designed out' dont you think it would be?

anyways, if you had an explanation that would be good, im interested
Torque steer happens when the two front drive wheels experience different amounts of torque. This happens in cars with unequal length driveshafts. The longer driveshaft will twist more, thus yielding less torque to the drive wheel it is connected to. The shorter one will twist less, thus yeilding more torque to the drive wheel it is connected to. The result is that as the car accelerates strongly, it has a tendency to pull to the side of the longer driveshaft.

Torque steer is primarily a FWD phenomenon because RWD cars do not have unequal length diveshafts. The small differential in the rear is easy to design with. On the otherhand, tight packaging of the engine and transmission in the cramped engine bay of a FWD car make it a challenge to end up with equal length driveshafts.

Torque steer does not affect appropriately designed front wheel drive cars that are fitted with equal length driveshafts. The Honda Accord V6, Honda Odyssey, Acura RL, and Acura TL are all powerful and torquey FWD cars with no torque steer. The same can be said for the Mazda6, and the more powerful Camry.

Current Nissans are plagued by torque steer, and the reason reviews dog them so much for it is because it is avoidable with proper design.

Depending on design an LSD's job is to either maintain a minimum torque delivery percentage, or to simply send torque to the wheel that doesn't slip. As a wheel lose traction, the action of the LSD shifts torque to the other drive wheel. This change in delivery of torque causes a pull that can be corrected by steering input. Some mistake this for torque steer, but as you can see, the mechanics of it is fundamentally different. Torque steer is caused by improper design and is detrimental to vehicle performance. LSD pull is just a by-product of the differential's nature as it works to maintain drive traction.

Some people mistake LSD action for torque steer but they are fundamentally different. Don't believe me? Read Car and Driver's article on the 6-speed Acura TL, which has an LSD. They complained of "torque steer" like behavior. However, no such behavior is noted in the automatic Acura TL because of the lack of LSD, despite having the exact same engine and drivetrain layout.
 

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thanks for the explanation, ill keep my eyes open for a review which complains about torque steer in the cars you mentioned.

as for the camry, i drive a solara too and i notice torque steer in that car when accelerating hard...
 

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LeeLee said:
The 3 handles weird, but in a good way. :bigsmile:

Let me explain.

When you are just driving in a "spirited" manner, there is very little body roll. Quick lane changes are easy to snap off. Turn in is excellent and the body takes a quick set, thanks to firmer-than-usual bushings and whatnot. Add this to the firm-yet-compliant tuning of the shocks, and you feel like you are driving a 3-series BMW. I am not joking. I think the seats also contribute to this feeling because it is firm, well shaped, and bolsters the body correctly. It's a driver's car.

But when pushed hard, the 3 exhibits quite a bit of body roll. This is somewhat of a mystery to me. Maybe the 3 is in need of some progressive springs? Who knows. I am not really complaining because except for the body roll and the related delay in making quick transitions, the car handles well. The grip is excellent, and there seems to be no limit on how hard the car can turn. I've taken corners 10 miles faster than I've ever gone before and the tires have yet to squeal. The handling stays neutral at high speeds and I have yet to be able to induce and oversteer or understeer.

In comparison, my wife's '01 sentra oversteers somewhat off throttle. This has been fun last night and this morning when I was able to do some rally-style driving in the snow. Run into a corner fast, turn-in, feel the rear end come around, counter steer, add throttle, and pull around the corner. Weeeeeeee!

My old '02 Accord had understeer, typical of FWD cars tuned for stability. On highway ramps, you notice that as you push the car faster, the car steers less. So you can't go any faster. I changed all that with some new rear sway bars. The car now understeers very slightly, and requires some throttle input to keep the rear end following the front end. Along with a manual transmission, this was really fun to drive.

The 3 handles very neutral. Maybe I just haven't reached the upper limit of the car yet, because only then will oversteer/understeer show through, depending on which pair of tires lose traction first. I have gone up and down ramps crazy fast, one time trying to keep up with an EVO that was gunning it. I almost lost my nerves as the car leaned so much. My wife yelled at me but it was worth it. :tongue: Yet the tires didn't make a single sound and the car just held on the road, no over or under steer detected. It felt like I could push it harder. With a lateral acceleration of .87, it's higher than any car I've driven before. And all that in a wagon.

VW? There's no need for a comparison. The GTI/Jetta/Golf has all the roughness and none of the handling. Other than good exterior looks, the small VWs have nothing going for them. The engines are rough and unrefined, the interiors are drab and cheap, the suspension has genuine Pig On Stilts (tm) setting. Teutonic land bargettes they are.
Lee, I think you should start writing for MotorTrend or Automotive. This post is awesome. Thank you!
 
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