TTAC Long-Term Review: 2015 Mazda3 Sport

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
ttac long term review 2015 mazda3 sport

First it was Jack. Then my Grandma. Now it’s my turn to buy a new car.

The idea of owning a pure, elemental sports car is romantic and enticing. But the reality of living with one as your daily driver in a climate that alternates between stiflingly humid and frigid enough to freeze your bone marrow is another matter. Half the time is spent stuck in traffic with the sun delivering enough UV rays to turn your scalp the same shade as a lobster. The other half is spent shivering in the barely insulated cabin, dodging distracted drivers and all-season shod cars while trying not to panic your passenger with consecutive attempts at threshold braking (hooray, no ABS). It was time for something different. For now. I will revisit things once the ND MX-5 is released.

The Miata went up for sale, and like any clean, rust-free Miata in Toronto, it went for a pretty penny. I promptly took the money, did not pass go or put $2000 down on a nice car. Instead, I socked it away in my retirement account. In line with my new, adult priorities, my criteria for a new car was such:

1) Cheap

2) Reasonably fun to drive

3) Cheap

4) Fuel efficient

5) Cheap

I briefly considered a Volkswagen GTI, but at the time, premium gas was over $6 a gallon, and the only 5-door version in Canada cost a hair under $35,000. I resolved to move on to a Ford Fiesta ST, but by the time I was ready to buy, interest rates went from 1.49 percent to 5.59% for financing and 7.19% for leasing. I had no intention of paying $500 CAD a month over 60 months to own that particular car. Previously, Ford Employee Pricing and favorable rates would have made the car sit in the high end of the “affordable” range for me, but now it sat well outside that bracket.

Earlier in the year, I’d driven a Mazda3 with the 2.0L and 6-speed manual, and came away just as impressed as I was at the launch event. It wasn’t particularly quick, but it felt gutsier than my NB Miata. The handling was as brilliant as I remembered, and the steering reminded me of my beloved 1997 NA, with a custom alignment, minus the darty sneeze-and-you-change-lanes feel that came with having 5 degrees of caster dialed in. More importantly, it was fairly comfortable, had a real trunk and got 35 mpg in mixed driving on regular gas – far better than the premium-swilling NB ever returned.

Somehow, my local dealer, Yorkdale Dufferin Mazda, had a number of manual transmission Mazda3s (and Mazda 6s, and Mazda5s for that matter) on the lot. I was all set on a Crystal Blue Mica sedan when I had a change of heart at the last minute, and took the hatchback model, seen here, in the same deep navy blue. This one was spec’d exactly how I wanted: 6-speed manual, the Convenience Package (with automatic headlamps and the all-important heated seats, among other things). No sunroof. The big, tablet-like screen with the HMI Commander interface. With the various incentives, I paid just a hair above invoice.

Confession time: I actually leased it. With a 60 percent residual, the ability to write part of the car off and no desire to own it out of the 3 year warranty, I opted for the (substantially) lower monthly payments. Many of you will counter that leasing is akin to a long-term rental, and you are correct. But it also ended up being cheaper than getting a Zipcar for two days out of every month.

I’m sure I could have also paid cash for a used car, but I wanted to free myself from trips to the mechanic, repair bills and the hassles associated with all of those factors. And with a interest rate of 0.29% from Mazda, it’s effectively free, meaning there’s better places to park my money.

I plan on detailing my experiences with the car for as long as I am driving it. I’m proud that myself, Jack and other contributors can and do bring you real world impressions of cars that we have paid our own money for. I’m also happen to be driving something akin to a wagon, even if most of you don’t regard it as such.

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2 of 145 comments
  • Inside Looking Out You should care. With GM will die America. All signs are there. How about the Arsenal of Democracy? Toyota?
  • DenverMike What else did anyone think, when GM was losing tens of billions a year, year after year?
  • Bill Wade GM says they're killing Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Any company that makes decisions like that is doomed to die.
  • Jeff S I don't believe gm will die but that it will continue to shrink in product and market share and it will probably be acquired by a foreign manufacturer. I doubt gm lacks funds as it did in 2008 and that they have more than enough cash at hand but gm will not expand as it did in the past and the emphasis is more on profitability and cutting costs to the bone. Making gm a more attractive takeover target and cut costs at the expense of more desirable and reliable products. At the time of Farago's article I was in favor of the Government bailout more to save jobs and suppliers but today I would not be in favor of the bailout. My opinions on gm have changed since 2008 and 2009 and now I really don't care if gm survives or not.
  • Kwik_Shift I was a GM fan boy until it ended in 2013 when I traded in my Avalanche to go over to Nissan.