Question of the Day: Mazda3? Really?

Jonny Lieberman
by Jonny Lieberman

First of all, I want to say great job this year on the Top 10 list. I'm lucky enough to have spent seat time in every car on the list save the Caddy and the GT-R,and there isn't a single one I wouldn't be happy to own. But let's talk top slot. Mazda3? Look, I know gas prices are high and small is in, but the Mazda3 ain't exactly frugal. With the 2.3-liter engine, the six-year-old design gets less than 30 mpg– on the highway. Around town you're talking 22 mpg. That's about the same as a Chevy Silverado Hybrid. The dash is kooktastic and I still think the four-door's funny looking (the wagon is the sex). Yes, it drives quite well and I recommend the 3 to people all the time. But I recommend the cheaper, better-driving Honda Fit even more. What's that you say? You're not talking about the standard Mazda3, but in fact the rip-snorting 263 hp MazdaSpeed3? Again, a good car, but not #1. Why not? The all new Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Ralliart blows its FWD, torque-cutting doors off. And then there's the little matter of STI and EVO. Am I wrong? Are you?

Jonny Lieberman
Jonny Lieberman

Cleanup driver for Team Black Metal V8olvo.

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  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Aug 21, 2008

    I've driven the base model 3 repeatedly (girlfriend had one, had one in Puerto Rico) and gotten 35 mpg consistently from the car. Which, due to the lower weight, is just as fast as the 2.3L engine. I LOVE me the base 3 - its even better than the Civic - and I'm a Honda fanboy - handling, power, fuel economy, fit and finish - all top notch (for an economy car) I even like the base 3 better than the Speed3 - its more frugal, way lighter (so more fun toss into the corners) and about $10,000 cheaper. Take that $10,000 and go buy yourself a used LS1 Z28 if you want to go fast in a straight line.

  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Aug 21, 2008

    I bought one because I thought it was the best car for the money. 4-1/2 years later, I still do. I've driven the Fit and I think the Mazda3 kicks its ass in every way except fuel economy.

  • VelocityRed3 VelocityRed3 on Aug 22, 2008

    Well I broke down & registered, just so I could show some love for my 3! I got a Velocity Red 06 3i (2.0L Manual) 3 days after Katrina with 2 miles on it. As I type these words it has just a little over 84,000. Like austinseven & a very few others noted I think the 2.0L engine is superior. You only lose about 13HP & 10 foot-pounds of torque for 5mpg on the highway. Plus the GT/Touring are some 400lbs heavier than the i. Someone noted that parts are exspensive. Of course dealer pricing can be all over the place & it is best to shop around in your market. However, short of the huge aftermarket for Honda's I would contend that Mazda AM parts are second to none. eBay is your friend. On eBay there are thousand of parts straight from the factory in Hiroshima. Want some G35-like LED tail lights? 200 bucks. Like the BMW cat's eye xenon headlight profile. 400. Want to take that standard 5 speed shifter & turn it into a "short-shifter? 300 dollars & 3 hours of your time. Make your base i as stiff as a GT, get all 3 swaybars for 200 & put em' on yourself. The point is, there is a huge fanboi underground market that realized, like TTAC, that the Mazda 3 is just one hell of a car. I routinely get 31 mpg of with average speeds of 75 to 80mph on my 80 mile per day commute, here in the Atlanta area. With my base radio upgraded to a pioneer Nav unit, I have a pleasant enough drive, that I actaully look forward to it at the end of the day. Now I will say, that while the handling is exceptional, extremely bumpy roads will upset her trim, but just easing off the throttle a litte, clears that right up. The only really bad thing, is that the engine can be a bit buzzy on very long trips. In closing the sheer utility of this car is overwhelming. I can really not think of any other car, in any price range, that does as many things right as this one.

  • John_G John_G on Aug 25, 2008

    I got 3i manual 2008. Currently my milage 28/37 which is noticebly better than the steacker says 24/33. The engine is powerfull (you would not need more) and very fuel efficient. Time will reveal the car reliability.