TTAC Long Term Update #2: 2015 Mazda 3 Sport

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

This will be the first winter since 2009 when I will not be driving an open top sports car. I can say with confidence that for a daily driver in the Snowbelt, the answer is not necessarily “Miata”.

As much as I adored my Miatas, I had come to the realization that the six months of blissful, open-air motoring in the summer was outweighed by the misery of driving one in the winter.

Traction in the snow was the least of my problems. With a good set of winters and a limited slip-differential, I was never once stuck, spun around or slipping excessively in the snow or on ice.

Things that did suck, in no particular order

  1. The utter lack of insulation, which made the car freezing cold. Not even the hardtop could remedy this.
  2. No ABS. Some of the more cantakerous types will probably be rolling their eyes at this assertion. I know how to threshold brake, but I also know the sheer panic of trying to come to a complete stop on a slick road after a child has just ran into the street to get their ball. Never. Again.
  3. The rather limited cabin space is not conducive to wearing a parka and size 11.5 EE Red Wing snow boots.
  4. Jack’s accident made me think twice about driving a car with a less than modern suite of safety features.

For now, I am enjoying the relative warmth of the all-steel bodyshell, the heated seats, the Bluetooth system, the rear seats and proper trunk. I am sure that, come spring, I’ll be missing my Miata.

The big change for this month was the addition of a set of snow tires. Our friends at TireSpot recommended a set of Hankook Winter i-Pike RS W419s in 205/60/16, and I immediately installed them in preparation for another Polar Vortex. Of course, it’s been a warm winter, with only a light dusting of snow, but this weekend’s winter storm should reveal how they perform in the white stuff. Fuel economy is sitting at 26 mpg, largely in town. On our next tank, we’ll see what kind of effect the snow tires have on fuel economy.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

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  • SPPPP SPPPP on Jan 06, 2015

    "... I also know the sheer panic of trying to come to a complete stop on a slick road after a child has just ran into the street to get their ball. Never. Again." Derek, You may have heard this before, but ... beware of ABS + snow. If it's really slippery, ABS often EXTENDS your braking distance by forcing the tires to keep rolling. If they could slide, they would build up a little snow in front and stop sooner. You may have more steering control with ABS, but your braking ability is often diminished in exchange.

    • See 1 previous
    • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Jan 06, 2015

      @rpn453 Modern ABS systems really decrease this issue. Winter tires decrease it even more. As I mentioned, with the Geolanders on, which are a far more aggressive tire than you would typically have on a car, my truck will do exactly this on slippery surfaces. Touch the brakes, and the ABS cycles because the tires have no traction. With the Hankook snows on, you can brake HARD before the ABS cycles - like cause significant nose dive hard. But even with that said, I would still love to see an on/off switch for those VERY rare occasions when no ABS is better.

  • Davepod Davepod on Feb 11, 2015

    Glad to see this review. We are thinking of a 15 i touring and really interested to see if there are any other issues out of the plant and to see how it drives and the gas mileage. The mileage really interest us with the capacity of a hatch. BTW living in Pittsburgh no snow tires FWD cars and get around fine but I've had snow tires in the past and they definitely helped.

  • Geozinger Put in the veggie garden (Western Michigan, we still can get frost this late in the year) finished the remainder of the landscaping updates and hand washed both my beater Pontiac and the Town and Country! Going to the beach today...
  • Rochester I wouldn't obsess over the rate of change, it's happening whether we want it or not.
  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.