By on December 14, 2016

2017 Mazda 3 5-Door red - Image: Mazda

“It’s the one to have,” we said of the 2017 Mazda 3 on the last day of November, “but not the one you’ll buy.”

Pat TTAC on the back for such an accurate forecast, as the very next day, Mazda revealed that Americans acquired fewer Mazda 3s in November 2016 than at any point since January 2014, a 34-month low.

With the worst U.S. sales results in nearly three years, Mazda USA’s most popular car is now on track to potentially see annual volume fall to a decade low in 2016.

There’s nothing new about the American car buyer’s prerogative to avoid critical advice when it comes to Mazda’s compact sedan. The degree to which the Mazda-supporting suggestion is ignored, however, is, increasingly apparent.

Year-over-year, November 2016 sales plunged 14 percent to only 6,388 units.

U.S. sales of the Mazda 3 have now declined in ten of 2016’s eleven complete months, including each of the last seven.

Mazda’s share of the compact category is down to 4.6 percent through 2016’s first 11 months, down from 6.2 percent four years ago, when the previous-generation Mazda 3 was nearing the end of its tenure.

Eight compact cars — and 20 cars overall — sell more often in America than the Mazda 3. The 3’s 11-percent rate of decline is significantly worse than the compact category average; worse than the overall car market’s 9-percent fade, as well.

What’s the problem?

Besides the issues with the car, which the buying public clearly consider to be bigger issues than the automotive press believes, Mazda’s long-term plans do not support a short-term fix.

The issues a potential customer has with a car can be overcome. All it takes is cash on the hood.

Mazda doesn’t want to play that game.

Mazda USA sales chart - Image: © TTAC

“Mazda continues to maintain low incentives with our ‘Right Price Strategy’ that came into its own with the current-generation products,” Mazda spokesperson Jacob Brown told TTAC earlier this week.

Mazda has an issue with customer retention. To make matters worse, all Mazda needs to do is cut prices on the Mazda 3 in November, sell more cars, and drag down resale values for current owners of the Mazda 3.

But, Brown says, “We’re going to maintain our pricing strategy to bolster that value for our customers.”

Mazda also touts its knack for selling luxuriously equipped models, particularly those with a full suite of i-ActiveSense safety features. “Mazda has among the highest average transaction prices in the C-segment,” Brown says, while also noting the Mazda customer’s willingness to opt for that safety suite and a manual transmission.

“We found that many of our shoppers wanted both the manual transmission and all the top-level features without compromise,” Brown tells TTAC. “About 15 percent of Mazda 3 sales are with manual transmission, and many skew toward mid- or high-trims.”

Mazda is on track this year to sell fewer than 100,000 3s in the United States for the first time since 2009. Fortunately for Mazda, while the 3 operates in a sector that may offer little room for growth in the near future, the company is operating with increasing success on the crossover side of the ledger.

2017 Mazda CX-5 LA auto show introduction - Image: Mazda UStream screenshot

U.S. sales of the new Mazda CX-9 have risen 27 percent in the last six months, though it remains a niche model in its category. (Mazda sold 1,994 CX-9s in November; Toyota sold a record-high 21,241 Highlanders during the same period.)

Likewise, the Mazda CX-3 is a low-volume contender among subcompact crossovers — seven competitors are more common. But CX-3 sales have risen 25 percent over the last four months, the only months in which year-over-year figures are available. And two-thirds of the CX-3s sold in America leave the factory in higher-profit all-wheel-drive form.

Meanwhile, the Mazda CX-5 is on track for its fourth consecutive year of growth. (Mazda now sells more than 11 CX-5s for every 10 Mazda 3s.) Brown says, “The 2017 CX-5 will undoubtedly build on that momentum.”

If only the 3 had momentum to build upon, as well.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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105 Comments on “Critical Praise Ignored, Mazda 3 Sales Keep Falling...”


  • avatar
    sirwired

    Note to Mazda Planners and Pricers: While you are busy patting yourselves on the back for your acumen, the ONLY reason I currently don’t have a CX-5 in my garage is your refusal to offer the cool safety features on anything EXCEPT a fully-loaded Grand Touring model (with the leather I don’t want, the wheels I don’t want, and the LED lighting package I don’t care about.)

    • 0 avatar
      orenwolf

      The IIHS would like to suggest to you that, out of the three, the LED headlights actually *are* something you should probably care about.

      http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/mazda/cx-5-4-door-suv

      Also, unless I missed something (or things are *really* different down there vs Canada now) – can’t you get the “technology package” which includes all the safety features with the midsize trim now as an option?

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        the “Touring technology package” on the Touring (mid-level) is mostly lighting features. You can’t get the driver assistance stuff (lane keeping, smart braking etc.) on anything but the Grand Touring, and that’s in the $1500 “i-Activsense” package.

        more amusing to me is that if you want to row your own, you can only get it in a FWD Sport, and *that* is available in only Black, Silver, and Gray.

        What. The. F.

        • 0 avatar
          orenwolf

          Ugh. Yeah, so looking at the options, it is in fact the same up here. Dumb to only have the top trim level have safety features.

          This isn’t a new Mazda problem either, back in 2006 with my first Mazda 3 there were a ton of features only available i the (Canada-only) GT-e package, which I didn’t want for the same reasons you don’t want the GT CX5.

          I gave in for my current Mazda6 though and coughed up the cash for the top trim level, even though I’d much rather use my phone than the terrible in-car nav for GPS, and really don’t care about leather seats. LOVE the LED lights, though, since it’s the whole car – never have to replace a bulb, ever, and apparently they’re the only lights that don’t suck in tests.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            “Only the wealthy can be safe.”

            New Mazda slogan.

          • 0 avatar
            orenwolf

            Sad but true, for many manufacturers I think.

            Dovetails nicely with a conversation we had here a few months back about how safety features risk increasing the average cost for vehicles but at the same time, lower-income families, many of whom are forced to commute to multiple jobs a day or on evening/overnight shifts, etc. are the ones likely to need the features the most (whether it’s from themselves, or needing to dodge inebriated party revelers or drowsy drivers on off-hours, etc).

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      This is familiar story. The only reason I have not owned Accord in the last 20 years is because if I want to have split folding rear seat, I need to get sunroof and all the other things I don’t want.

      Or Altima. To get damn folding mirrors, you need to get the top-most trim. At least it was like it in 2010

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Mazda 3 is nice to look at and that about sums it up. Due to Mazda trying to cut weight for increased mpg they also increased road noise. The noise is almost unbearable and there are to many other options that disqualifies the 3.

    • 0 avatar
      sarcheer

      Have Mazda’s ever been quiet?

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        Mazda use to be considered somewhat “cheap” compared to the big three Japanese companies (Honda, Toyota, Nissan) though.

        They are now targeting a more premium experience than in the past, but unfortunately Mazda has yet to learn that making a car quiet is a great way of increasing the car’s perceived “premiumness”. Other auto makers are quickly catching on that spending a few extra bucks on sound deafening makes buyers think the car is more expensive/luxurious than it actually is. Important when purchasing decisions often come down to perceived value.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          Yep. To put Mazda’s problem another way, driver’s cars with high NVH are becoming obsolete when overcrowded American roads have decreased the amount of time spent driving quickly and replaced it with lots of time spent crawling in stop-and-go traffic — hence the increased popularity of A/V dashboard toys, both factory and phone-powered.

          The comment about soundproofing speaks to me. But the cost of soundproofing is weight that’ll make Mazdas too slow with their efficient little engines — one can’t have it both ways.

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        Yes the old 626 was quieter then current Mazda’s.

      • 0 avatar
        SirRaoulDuke

        The 3 has never been quiet. I never noticed the noise in my first gen hatch because I was always driving the piss out of it.

    • 0 avatar
      trecoolx

      I test-drove a 2016 Mazda 3 in my search for a new compact hatch and found it quieter and peppier than my 2003 VW Golf and the 2004 Mazda 3 sedan. That said, I ended up with a 2015 Golf because it was quieter, felt structurally stiffer, had better interior materials and aesthetic, and rode better than the 3, and it had advantages in cargo space and a smaller footprint. (I preferred the handling of the 3.)

      I found that most of the cars on my list — except for the Scion iA, Mazda CX-3 and Honda Fit — beat the 3 in ride, NVH, and interior quality. As a driver with a 70+ mile daily commute, I wanted something I could live with for the grind. I wanted the Mazda 3 to be it, but it would have required sacrifices in comfort and longevity.

    • 0 avatar
      RedRocket

      The Mazda 3 is many things, but “nice to look at” is not one of them. It is horribly mis-proportioned.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Part of the 3’s problem is simple: Honda and Toyota incentivize the living hell out of the Civic and Corolla, particularly on leases. The Corolla, in particular, is just stupid cheap to lease.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Mazda dealers are taking $3000-4500 off on 3’s. They are just inferior cars for the masses. They look nice handle well. But people want basic transportation in this category that is not drowned out with road noise.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I sure didn’t see deals like that on the 3 when I was buying a car last month…more like a grand off, give or take.

        In any case, what killed the 3 for me car buy was simple: I was leasing, and the 3 doesn’t have great residuals. Mazda doesn’t have an in-house financing arm for incentivized leases. Corollas and Civics have excellent residuals, and they’re discounting them. Net result: VERY cheap leases.

        Kinda goes back to what I was saying. Leasing is a HUGE part of the game in compact car sales, and the 3 is at a disadvantage in this regard due to the limited discounts and lower residuals.

        Ditto for pretty much all the other compacts that have seen sales drop.

        And totally disagree on the 3 being “inferior.” It’s a terrific car, even if it’s louder and a bit rougher than, say, a Golf. It’s just a flavor not everyone digs.

        • 0 avatar
          VW4motion

          FreedMike,
          Dealers are having a hard time getting rid of the Mazda 3 making it a great time for purchase if someone enjoys the 3.

          http://www.classicmazda.com/new-inventory/index.htm?search=&saveFacetState=true&year=&model=Mazda3&trim=&lastFacetInteracted=inventory-listing1-facet-anchor-model-4

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Ahhh, *that* model. Interesting, but they aren’t discounting that one around here. I wanted one with a few more options and it looks the ’17s aren’t being discounted all that heavily.

            Also wonder how much of that discount is the “you don’t qualify for that discount but we’ll advertise it anyway” game.

            Thanks for the info, though.

    • 0 avatar
      alexndr333

      FreedMike: Not just Toyota’s Corolla. I just leased one of my local dealer’s remaining 2016 Buick Encore Sports (with sunroof) which they advertised for $89 / month (it requires $4000 + tax & license and a good FICO score.) Once I gave up my current ride and some GM MasterCard bucks, I got the payment to under $86 / month (2-years, 10,000 miles a year). Mazda’s Right Pricing strategy may make sense in the quiet corporate offices, but in the rough-and-tumble world in the auto centers it can’t compete with a deal like that.

      • 0 avatar
        skivt

        alexndr333. If you put a total of $5K down and pay $84 per month the total out of pocket for a 2 year lease is appr $7K. If so, you’re paying $3,500 per year. You can lease a comparably equipped 2017 Mazda CX3 for less and a 2016.5 CX5 Touring for about the same $. One could make a strong argument Mazda is offering more car for less money than Buick on these two lease examples.

        • 0 avatar
          alexndr333

          “More care for less money” may be in the eye of the beholder. The Encore Sport has a suite of traffic warning technologies (rear camera, lane warning radar, pedestrian breaking) sunroof and Apple Car Play. It’s also quiet, rides easily and handles well for its size and shape. Does the Mazda 3 really offer more to anyone except a speeder? The sales say, “No.”

          • 0 avatar
            skivt

            You bring up good points. While handling/ride quality, styling, and to some extent quality of interior materials is subjective, Mazda does offer the same suite of technologies in the “I Active Sense” package. No, Mazda doesn’t target “speeders” anymore (CX3 gets better MPG than Encore) but does attract those who want a tighter ride, precise steering, an upscale/refined almost premium level interior, low maintenance and cars that most say are very good looking. Sales say no in large part because a lack of advertising/marketing. It’s clear we both are biased and have different tastes. My point is Mazda offers a lot for the money. Mazda competes more frequently with premium ,European and Japanese brands…not so much domestics.

    • 0 avatar
      johnds

      As primarily a Honda driver. I daily drive a 07 Accord Se Manual w/177,000 miles, I do not get the hype about the 3. I drove my friends 2012 ‘3 after I replaced the brakes. It drives well, nothing to complain about…I just did not think it was “Sporty” compared to Civics or even some Corolla’s I have been in. I think it was a non Sky-Activ Grand Touring. The interior quality did not strike me as jaw dropping or drool worthy compared to my Honda. I would also say I have seen plenty stripper models for cheap in the Minneapolis/St. Paul market.

      • 0 avatar
        nyexx

        What.were.you.expecting. I own a 2010 Mazda 3 and yes there is nothing jaw dropping or drool worthy about the interior but did anyone say there was? It’s the previous generation car, your expectations were too high. You compared it to your Accord which has one of the best built interiors Honda has ever put in a car built to a higher standard than both generations of Accord that proceeded it. We used to own a 2013 Civic and currently own a 2010 & 2016 3. The difference in driving dynamics is very noticeable.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Could it be that most mainstream buyers never even think of Mazda when they go looking for a new vehicle?

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    I wouldn’t buy the 3. Seeing so many 3’s with body rust in Québec disqualifies them. Civics of the same age are fine.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      AFAIK they got their act together on that around 2007-2008. my BIL has a 2008 3 sedan and last I looked at it I didn’t see any visible rust. and we’re not shy about using road salt in Michigan.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      For what it’s worth, I started seeing first-gen 3’s with epic rear fender rust about 5-6 years ago (which were about 5-6 years old). I haven’t seen any second-gen 3’s (which are about 5-6 years old now) with epic rust yet. They might not be good yet, but at least it appears they’re not as bad as they once were (hopefully they can start cracking the decade mark).

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I’ve looked at the Mazda 3 current and previous generation and they are great looking and excellent drivers. However, they don’t seem to hold up like Toyota/Honda. Mazda still hasn’t figured out galvanizing, their cars rust so fast it’s amazing. This may what’s killing sales of the new 3. People look at their neighbour’s 4-5 year old rusty Mazda and scratch it off their list. I believe the 3 was the most popular small car in Canada for a few years, but now you barely see them on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      It’s really difficult to comprehend that a company can still sell cars in salt using areas of the world and still have them rust out prematurely. That was prevalent in the 70s, 80s and 90s with Japanese manufacturers, but they all seem to have it solved – except for Mazda.

      I haven’t test driven a 3, but I did drive a CX-5 Sport and wasn’t impressed. It was noisy, slow, and it felt cheap even though the asking price was not cheap. I guess other people disagree with me and love the CX-5, but I’d buy another VW before I’d buy a Mazda. It’s too bad because they do seem to make design some good headlight packages.

      • 0 avatar
        Daniel J

        Noisy compared to what? We purchased a 2015, and it was quieter than the Escape. It was on par with the CR-V. The Escape had aweful wind noise at anything over 40mph. The CRV was quiter with engine noise, but on par engine and wind noise. The only car we though beat all of them in wind noise, road noise, and engine noise was the Rogue, but it was poo to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Yes most people disagree with you. Co.pare CX5 sales to the Tiguan.

  • avatar
    readallover

    Road Noise
    Road Noise
    Road Noise
    Even the ghost of Colin Chapman knows the biggest problem Mazda has had for DECADES is NVH. And I am a Mazda fanboi. Stop being so d*mn stubborn and add 20 pounds of dynamat and start selling some cars.

    • 0 avatar
      sarcheer

      Hahaha, nailed it!

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Road noise must be what the journalists call ‘good driving dynamics’. A quiet car would be ‘disconnected’.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        They are fixing this alleged road noise issue – witness the CX9 and new CX5. Mazda resolves issues people like you keep raising. I recall a few years ago the big concern was their 4.8 inch screen being too small. That was fixed and now you have a new complaint. Also looking at Cain’s chart combined CX5 and 3 sales this year are c. 187k as opposed to 183k 3 years ago. Mazda 3 buyers have moved to the more expensive crossover – Mazda are happy with the greater ATP. Time isn’t everything.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @mike978:

          Read again – I’m merely making a statement based upon others’ comments. I haven’t personally driven a Mazda since my brother’s RX-3.

          I have no complaints about Mazdas based upon driving one (because I haven’t), but I certainly have sat in them at the auto show, and found them to have cramped interiors.

          Most of my criticism for Mazda is for the company’s seeming detachment from what customers seem to want, and it crazy dedication of very limited resources to continued rotary development.

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        “Road noise must be what the journalists call ‘good driving dynamics’.”

        Jeepers, I hope Akio has remembered to build some into his CH-R.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      With which specific generation? We had an 08 3 and it was OVERALL quieter than the same year civic, focus, and corolla. Everyone complains about road noise, but what about wind noise and engine noise. We found the 08 corolla to have terrible engine noise and wind noise at just about any speed. The focus had better road noise and engine noise, but at 70mph, we had to yell at each other due to wind noise.

  • avatar
    BoogerROTN

    Personally, I find the design to be an incoherent mess of soft curves and rounded corners. It doesn’t appear that Mazda’s Kodo design team learned much from the Nagare mistake.

    That said, as a current Mazda owner, my main issues with their products continues to be the quality of the interior finishes, the lack of adequate sound deadening materials and the constraining “Sport,” “Touring” and “Grand Touring” option packages. I doubt I’ll be buying another Mazda in the future…

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I don’t know how old your Mazda is but they have addressed your concerns. New models are quieter, the CX9 and soon to come CX5. Mazda have explicitly said they will fix this. In addition the quality of the materials in those cars along with the current 6 are class leading for the segment. They have been moving upwards bit by bit.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I guess I need to drive a new 3 to see how loud it actually is.

    I drove a Joker face one a few years ago and although I don’t remember it being quiet, I don’t recall thinking it was worse than the rest of the class.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      All this whining about noise has made me want to make sure that the next time I’m shopping I make sure that I drive the Mazda entry into whatever vehicle class I’m shopping in. Just for a cross-reference and to see what all the carping is about.

      • 0 avatar
        don1967

        It’s mostly tire growl… like riding on snow tires in a car with a very thin floor. Wind and engine noise, not so bad.

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          In my (admittedly short) test drive I also found wind noise to be pretty bad (test drive included part of a highway) compared to other cars. Maybe it was a particularly windy day or the wind direction vs car direction though.

          Agreed that engine noise isn’t any worse than other cars in the segment.

          The Mazda isn’t so loud that you have to scream to be heard, but its road noise is definitely more noticeable than most of the competition. It gets exhausting if you have to spend a lot of time in the car.

        • 0 avatar
          BoogerROTN

          I’m sure the ridiculous 50-series 17″ tires they put on my Mazda5 adds to the problem…

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          could that even just be their choice of tire? Performance tires can be surprisingly loud. The BFG KD/W2s my SRT-4 had from the factory were astonishingly noisy. The tread pattern was interesting looking, at least.

          • 0 avatar
            don1967

            @JimZ – Could be. Swapping on a set of BFG snow tires didn’t increase the noise at all compared to the OEM all-seasons, suggesting that the OEMs are at least partly to blame.

      • 0 avatar
        Funky

        When I get a chance to do so I am planning to spend a half day in the 3 because I’m curious about the amount of noise everybody mentions. I’ll try to get one as a loaner the next time I have a vehicle in for service. I’ve driven three or four 6’s in different trims, a couple CX-3s (including the one I own) and a couple CX-5s (including the one I own) and of course a Miata/MX-5. Having never driven a 3, I’m feeling like I’m missing out on something (and, I’m wondering exactly how bad the noise level can be).

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      It isn’t that bad at all. Mainly the 3 is louder when you’ve got your right foot planted.

    • 0 avatar
      nyexx

      It’s not that much worse. I’ve driven the 2016 Civic and Mazda 3 back to back. The Civic was slightly quieter.

      My mother has a 2012 CR-V. It is just as loud as my 2010 Mazda 3.

  • avatar

    The critical praise can be ignored for a few reasons:

    I test drove the Mazda 3 and it was boring as f—. I am a veteran autocrosser and road racer – I put it through its paces and it was still boring. Slightly less boring than the other appliance cars, but boring nonetheless. The engine, while revvy, was just gutless. The NA drivetrain cannot compete with the little turbos.

    The display alone made me hate the car. Not a touch screen. You have to use a stupid knob. No actual buttons on the car.

    The nail in the coffin was pricing. Yes, I was prepared to pay a premium for a better ride, but I lease my transportation appliances so I have one reliable car when any of my toys happens to be up on jack stands for repairs or upgrades. Jetta S 5-speed 1.4t lease – $155/mo. Mazda 3 5-speed 2.0 lease – $280/mo. Similar agreed sale price, $0 down on both. That was the deal killer for me.

    I also test drove the Ford Ecoboost 1.0 but the deceptive dealer practices at the Ford dealership killed that deal for me – at least the Mazda people were honest and told me they couldn’t come close to the Jetta.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2.5 is really the engine to get, but of course that would also add to the price. My wife has a 2.5 GT (non-skyactive + automatic) and it’s depressingly bad on gas. Then again, to buy a VW you have to deal with giving money to a company who perpetrated a horrible, stupid, and ultimately pointless fraud. Hope your Jetta never needs routine maintenance because there will be TDIs clogging up their bays for years.

      So there’s that.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Bought a 2016 Mazda3 Sport for my wife. Ride, handling, tactile quality and style are first-rate. Truly a wonderful car in this respect.

    Road noise, on the other hand, is the worst I’ve seen in years. And while the much-hyped “Skyactiv” 2.0 engine is smooth, it is also gutless, maintenance-hungry, and not particularly thrifty in real-world city driving conditions. Really, Mazda?

    And then there’s the rust issue. Having DIY oil spray equipment I’m not concerned, but with so many rustbucket Mazdas on the road it’s going to take awhile to restore public trust.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I really found the 3 to be no louder than the Golf TSI I had, both as rentals for about the same period of time.

    I also found it to be no more dynamically charming or fun to drive. Steering had good weight but no feedback, chassis just felt nose heavy and inert. I can’t imagine how bad the rest of the field drives if this is the dynamic champion. Maybe they neuter them for fleets? The 2.0 was miserable too.

    My point of reference is my Civic though, which is so loud in stock form that just yesterday I had to turn my radio to maximum volume to hear a podcast on the highway. THAT’S loud. The 3 is a Bentley by comparison

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Mazda has perpetually captured less than 2% of US market share for the last 15 years. Their issues predate the 3.

    But hey, they outsell Chrysler, Buick, Audi, and Cadillac, among many others.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    Mazda’s problem is that they’re trying to market enthusiast features to a non-enthusiast public.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      True, but then again…how do you really compete as a strictly “appliance” car when the real appliances – Corollas and Civics – have 40-50 year reliability reps?

      Answer: you can’t.

      So you carve out your own niche and then grow it. It may not be working with the compact segment (probably due to how the segment itself is performing), but it sure is with Mazda’s CUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “Answer: you can’t.”

        Hyundai/Kia managed to do it.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          True, Jim, but keep in mind the Elantra is down even further for 2016 than the 3 is, despite a) being a fresh product, and 2) giveaway pricing.

          (It’s a nice piece, though.)

          I’m not sure what’s behind the Forte’s rise in sales – probably fleet, I’d think. It’s not a fresh product by any means.

    • 0 avatar

      And a very small subset of enthusiasts at that. If they had the option for more power I think it would help their base in the US.

    • 0 avatar

      Are you complaining about enthusiast features in the comment section of an enthusiast website?

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Couldn’t this be the very successful CX5 cannibalizing the 3’s sales? Yeah yeah I know a lot of guys who hate CUVs and would never think of switching from a sedan/hatch, but there’s also people that are just serial Mazda buyers (by habit, or whatever likes they have). They drive in with a older Mazda3 hatch to trade in, see how squashed and useless the hatch in the newest 3 hatch is, and walk right over to the CX5 that is priced reasonably close, with the same MPG as their old 3 got, and a lot more utility.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    I could not get my wife to try one as the Mazda dealer did not have one with a manual on the lot, and my wife is not one to spend much time shopping around for cars (or anything else, really). Mini had one with a manual available, and that’s what we got. I couldn’t get her to consider the Fiesta or Focus ST at the time (two years ago), as there were none of those available locally either.

  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    The majority of the buying public for this car segment want a dependable, comfortable and good value car, on a day in day out for 3-5 years. The majority of the automotive press enjoy their 1-2 day jaunt with a lively car. Your review is fine but the buying market know what they want as well.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    I’d say a part of the problem is an exterior that promises speed/acceleration that the powertrain can’t deliver.
    Few people want a car that looks faster than it really is.

  • avatar

    Mazda should work out another deal with FCA like the FIAT 124. The Mazda 3 would make a nice Chrysler 100 (replacing the Dodge Dart) and the Mazda 6 would be a great replacement for the Chrysler 200. It would fill out FCA’s product line and add incremental sales to Mazda with exposure at another dealer body.

    Are you listening Sergio?

  • avatar
    abitolder

    I had to deal with Mazda Canada Customer Assistance once when I purchased the then new in 2004 Mazda 3, their rudeness and holier than thou attitude when I had a problem meant no more Mazda products for me or my family ever, and that will probably be long enough to see them disappear. One must only see how few Mazda dealers are in Canada and the small size of their facilities means you are on your own if you have a problem. Did I mention the rust?

    • 0 avatar
      orenwolf

      Thankfully, a lot has changed since 2004.

      My local dealer used to be an independent repair shop before it became a Mazda dealer, and so their service department is top notch. I had them really go to bat for me on two issues that Mazda was determined not to allow as warranty work, but that the shop *knew* was a warranty issue. They’re also super-proactive about updates (even infotainment ones, which most service shops ignore), and even shuttle my winter/summer tires to/from my place so I don’t have to put them in the car, free of charge.

      I’ve used Mazda’s roadside assistance twice, both times because I was an idiot and left my phone plugged in to charge and it drained the battery, and I couldn’t find anyone with jumper cables, not even taxis (WTF). One of those was on Labour Day weekend when I was sure I’d be boned for assistance, but they got there in about 20 minutes.

      Of course since then I’ve given up on hoping others know anything about jump-starting cars anymore, and got myself one of those awesome battery-based jumpstart kits. Those things are awesome.

      • 0 avatar
        Funky

        My experience with Mazda ownership began in 2009. Since then, I haven’t had any trouble with our local dealership. And, all warranty work has always been performed without any pushback from either the dealer or from Mazda. I’d take my business elsewhere if I had any problems. A big part of the ownership experience includes sales and service from the local dealer. And, I am very intolerant of poor dealership experiences. So far, with Mazda, I have no complaints.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      I took delivery of my ’14 2 with ~20km and a faulty fuel pump (if the car sat for a while, it had to crank an abnormally long time). Since I needed the car for work, but the dealer needed the car all day to diagnose it (to their credit, they never denied there was a problem, just that they couldn’t figure it out otherwise) and the warranty didn’t cover a replacement car, I had to get Mazda Canada to go to bat for me. Somebody’s arm got twisted, and I got a loaner. Anecdote doesn’t equal data, but they’ve been fine to me.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Four years ago, the Mazda3’s lack of refinement was one of the reasons we rejected it in favor of a Ford Focus. (The other was the maniacal Joker grin on the front end.) I had expected them to do better as part of the redesign for the current model. Apparently not.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    The road noise issue i believe is exclusive to Mazda3. I used to own Mazda CX-7 and that CUV was perfectly fine on the highway; it was pretty quiet. However what made me finally sell it, was the lackluster AC. I live in metro Atlanta, and summers are hot around here. If i parked that car anywhere in the sun, it would be AT LEAST 15 minutes before the temperature inside was starting to “feel” cooler. Service dept said everything was fine with AC. I couldn’t handle it with wife and kids, so i got rid of it. That’s same complaint i hear in the forums about the new CX-9.

    I did drive Mazda3 rental once, and yes, that thing was louder than my Civic, although i attributed it to bad tires at the time. Seems like it wasn’t just tires…

    I think Mazda needs to revisit the basics of the driving experience. Yeah, that handling and steering feel is great on the weekends, but it’s negated if i have to sweat in my brand new car monday – friday commuting, or avoid highway trips due to excessive noise….

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    Mazdas big problem I have seen is the tires they equip their cars with. Looking up reviews on Tire Rack for the stock tires on my 2016 6, and the number one complaint is noise. Same with the 3. Several people on there said that once they switched tires on their 2014 6s (same car as my 2016), it was like a whole different car in terms or road noise.

    Rust hasn’t been an abnormal concern since 2009 or so. I had a 2008 Mazda3 hatchback for six years and I drove it year-round, even when Kentucky feels the need to dump ten tons of salt on the roads when there are flurries in the forecast. It didn’t have any excess or abnormal rust when I traded it in last October.

    Mazda is just a niche player and always will be because most people never consider them as they blindly make their way to the Honda or Toyota dealer. Plain and simple.

  • avatar
    bobmaxed

    I test drove a 3 this spring. 2.5 engine sedan with an automatic. I thought they did a great job making the interior feel spacious, except I don’t like big cars and this one felt too big. But what really eliminated this car for me was no where in the mid-west could I find the car I wanted. 3 hatch 2.5 stick. And not every option.

  • avatar
    George Taramas

    So what about that mazda-bazed Dodge Dart??? It is working just fine with the miata-124. I believe it could have been another win win situation.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that everyone notices Mazda road noise except me. How many others sleep with a 20″ box fan on a high setting right beside them to drown out any background noises?

    I don’t like the quiet, unless it’s completely quiet, because it tends to be interrupted by periods of loud, unpleasant noise anyway. The quieter it is, the harsher those interruptions seem.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      I sleep with background noise, but I do pick up on road noise in cars. I hate having to drown out tires smacking on the pavement with the radio. Granted a lot has to do with tire choice; OEM’s on Mom’s car was Hankook Optimos which were replaced by Michelin’s when they wore down—night and day difference.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        My stereo drowns out EVERYTHING when I’m on the highway. Road trips are when I tend to enjoy my music the most.

        I suppose I’m also learning why studded tires aren’t more popular. If the road noise of a Mazda3 on all-seasons is too much for someone, I’d hate to see their reaction when subjected to a set of studded Hakkapeliittas on whatever vehicle they previously considered quiet!

        • 0 avatar

          I used to always drive trucks and SUVS with mud terrains and all terrains. I was wondered why noise in cars bothered people. When I turned about 30 and had owned a few commuter cars I decided I prefer quiet on long trips and daily traffic. My Volvo has been great for that My subaru was much less so.

        • 0 avatar
          tankinbeans

          I have a Honeywell “commercial grade” fan which is always on when I sleep. My ears ring otherwise. Also, my stereo is always on when I’m in the car. I, like you, have never noticed excessive noise in any car I’ve driven.

          I currently own a 2016 Mazda3 iTouring and bought it because it was “boring”. My last car, Focus ST, always had me feeling like I needed to make use of its power and when I didn’t give in I felt like a poser (which isn’t to say I didn’t bean it periodically for I did get a few tickets). My Focus’ performance abilities were wasted on me.

          With all of that said I can’t say as the car’s deficiencies, real or otherwise, mean anything to me. The stereo, a Bose upgrade from factory, is the best I’ve personally experienced; I hate subs, but like a bit of bass and feel I can crank it without worrying about blowing it up; I genuinely appreciate the iDrive-esque knob; podcasts are no trouble even at highway speeds. I’ve not had it long enough for rust to be an issue and can’t comment. The mileage is extremely good for me. I like its looks.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        It’s not just road noise that doesn’t bother me; I actually like some engine noise.

        Thinking back to the last time I drove my friend’s new 3, I’m sure I’d have the intake resonator removed within a week of owning one. The engine is far too quiet to be paired with a manual. Much quieter than my ’04 even before I removed the intake resonator and installed a solid rubber engine mount.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      “How many others sleep with a 20″ box fan..”

      I use a tower-style fan with a squirrel cage at the bottom. Nice, broad spectrum “white” noise. Tried sleep machines, too wimpy.

  • avatar
    Turbo Is Black Magic

    If the 3 could be had with 220HP or more we would have bought one. We decided on a 2nd GTI instead.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I bought one last year, a 2016 2.5L 6MT hatch. Yeah, it’s noisy on rough surfaces, but I like it overall. I thought it had better steering and handling than the GTI, which took a moment to settle into turns and has gone pretty numb after switching to electrically-assisted steering. I also liked the interior ergonomics and infotainment system more, and the hatch was more usable (the GTI requires that you stack everything vertically). The engine’s disappointing, though. I’m only getting 24 mpg, but that’s fine, I don’t drive much.

    It isn’t all that sporty – it’s just that everything else is even worse until you get to the really hardcore compacts. I’ll report back after getting an engine tune this winter – Mazda apparently went very conservative, so you can get more than usual out of a naturally aspirated engine.

    • 0 avatar
      tnk479

      Does the Mazda 3 still offer hydraulic steering?

      • 0 avatar
        orenwolf

        Not that I’m aware of. However, they’ve got EVS tuned just right, which I think is due in large part to work on the 2004+ RX8, for which they had it perfect.

      • 0 avatar
        carlisimo

        It’s electrically-assisted, so it dampens out road imperfections too much. The best electrical assist systems (like in the ND Miata) apply the torque at the top of the steering shaft, but that’s hard to squeeze into a FWD car’s engine bay. In the Mazda3 it’s at the base of the column which means you lose some feel due to torsional deflection in it. And these systems have more inertia than hydraulic ones.

        But I do like it. My first two cars had manual steering, and the Mazda3 feels like it’s trying to simulate the way they felt. Especially on-center, when a hydraulic system wants to tug on the wheel after the slightest input. So it feels more natural, more linear. In theory it’s also supposed to be better at high cornering forces because hydraulic systems plateau and just give you a high level of resistance that doesn’t change much between, say, 80% and 90% of available grip. But I’m not sure that happens in practice (compared to my 2002 Miata with power steering). Maybe if it had a higher level of maximum resistance.

        The Miata’s a tough car to compare to. My wife has an RSX (hydraulic assist), and it has high resistance everywhere with very little increase as you corner harder. So that’s pretty lousy, except it does let you feel the jiggles in the road.

  • avatar
    syncro87

    We bought a compact sedan not too long ago. The Mazda3 was the car I wanted to like the best and what I planned on buying.

    Ended up with a 2016 Civic EX-T.

    The value proposition just wasn’t there for the Mazda.

    Road noise seemed a lot higher than the Honda. The back seat felt more claustrophobic than the Civic’s. The beltline felt higher and more confining in the Mazda. We have a child, so the perceived lack of space in the rear seat of the Mazda was a big minus. Not sure what the actual measurements are, but the Civic’s interior feels roomier.

    After driving both cars multiple times, nothing about the Mazda stood out to make it seem like a better overall choice than the Civic.

    We paid $21k out the door pre-tax for the turbo Honda. For that we got a fair amount of kit. Heated seats, moonroof, dual zone auto climate, remote start, advanced keyless entry, decent stereo. There weren’t any Mazda 3’s around here for that price with those features. The local Honda dealers were a LOT more interested in getting our business than the Mazda guys.

    There was one thing I liked better about the Mazda. The auto transmission. I prefer it to the CVT in the Civic. However, that being said, the CVT in the Honda is surprisingly good. Also, the Mazda had a manual transmission available…but now that you can get a Civic EX-T with a stick, I see little reason to opt for the 3 unless you’re one of the .01% of humanity that has to have a manual transmission with leather seats above all other considerations.

    If I was a single guy circa 20 years ago, I might have opted for the Mazda3 with a manual. But the Civic was a better overall value and package for a family of 3, to us. The 3 was really good, but I suspect a fair number of people shop it against the Honda like we did, and that’s a tough fight to win for the Mazda in my opinion.

    Wife is averaging around 40 mpg overall in mixed driving with the Civic. This includes a lot of rush hour traffic/commute. So much for the whole small turbos don’t deliver good MPG in real world thing.

    One last thing. I believe that you can get the latest whiz bang safety gear standard on a new Corolla, no? You can get it for a grand on even the most basic Civic trim level. I don’t believe the availability of the safety stuff is nearly as good on the Mazda3, unless I’m mistaken.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I’m not really the demographic that buys these small cars, but I have had them as rentals, both the 3 and 6. They’re decent cars to use but I wouldn’t really want to own one, the interiors are cheap and just don’t feel premium. The 3 gives you 3/4 of a front armrest. I know they were basic rental spec, but a basic Passat or Accord just feels a lot more high quality.

  • avatar
    jtk

    I have a 2012 3. My main complaint is with the dealers, the ones I dealt with were the stereotypical bad dealers (lied to me about my credit score, tried to sell me misrepresented service packages, etc. Not that that makes them unique).

    The road noise is an issue on long trips, but for a 30-45 minute commute it’s fine. The interior is pretty cheap feeling, and the seats are not comfortable at all.

    Also the depreciation is pretty bad (ie, lost about $14,000 worth of value in 4 years, yes I know that’s not real world value but still).

    I thought mine was kind of weird looking when I bought it. The newer design is also weird, just different weird. It reminds me of Family Guy’s penis car.

  • avatar
    Chan

    The current Mazda3 is simply too small and a bit unrefined. It’s a Europe-sized car trying to sell in the US. It drives great, but Mazda made a big mistake in shrinking a car sold in the US.

    It should have been at least as large as the previous 3.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Objectively speaking it IS at least as large as the previous 3, slightly larger in fact. Per KBB the only measurement that lost ground is rear legroom and only 0.4 inches.

      Subjectively speaking, I can’t say. It feels plenty large to m, but I’m single and usually the only passenger.

  • avatar
    fred0804

    As of 12/14 We became a two Mazda 3 family. We have a 2013 touring sedan, never any issues avg. 37 mpg. But with the first grandchild on the way it was time to sell our MR2 spyder. A minivan or suv didn’t thrill us. When I found a 2015 hatchback with 10k for under $14,000 we figured why not. The dealer left a lot to be desired, as i had the car detailed today. They seem to think slopping armour all everywhere and hosing it off is detailing. If it functions as well as the 2013 we will be pleased. P.S. we got the 2013 in 2014 with 4k also for under $14,000

  • avatar
    rolando

    Solution, jack it up an inch, call it the CX4, add $2000 to the price. Then sell a “lowered” Speed Model with the 2.5 Turbo!


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