This blog will take Christmas week off as the author scrambles from way behind in an attempt to finish up his holiday obligations. Best wishes to everyone this holiday season. Here’s hoping family and friends brighten your days. Before I hit the mall, here’s one more review submitted for your enjoyment. – MG:
Sacramento, California – I have to be careful reviewing the Mazda3.
It’s a long-standing favorite of family and auto-loving friends of mine, and they don’t take kindly to me beating up on their baby.
Like they had to worry. The latest Mazda3 is as attractive and functional as ever..
My tester was the 2011 Mazda3 s Five-Door Sport, a mouthful to be sure and priced at the high end among seven trim levels, starting at $20,485. Mine was dressed up with a few extras – Sirius Satellite Radio, moonroof, in-dash six-compact disc player and Bose audio – to push the bottom line to $23,110. That’s still a pretty fair deal.
The Mazda3 never fails to get praise from most of the young crowd because it has sporty looks and SUV-like convenience to go along with that affordable price.
A giant smile of a grille is accented by a swept-back front end, and the lean, cut-through-the-air look floats back to an elevated decklid overhang at the back end. Dual exhausts at the back enhance the sporty feel.
At first glance, it looks like the car won’t carry all that much, even with the rear seats folded. Turns out that’s an illusion. I loaded all sorts of funky shaped, large cargo in the back of the thing and still had plenty of room for more.
The s versions of the Mazda3 are powered by a 2.5-liter in-line 4 with variable-valve timing and 167 horsepower. This package powers the front-drive vehicle around with more than a little authority. In fact, the car is so nicely balanced and so righteously powered that you feel like you’re in perpetual hustle mode.
I thought this was just me, but a passenger ventured this during my recent test drive: “Is it my imagination, or are we really zipping along in this car?”
Well, yes, we are. But you’re getting that sensation at speeds as low as 40 miles per hour. People driving high-powered luxury cars might sniff at this, saying their car feels like it’s going 40 mph when it’s really sailing along at 70 mph.
Yeah, maybe. But does that do anything to quicken your pulse? I thought not.
And remember, this is a car company that promotes “zoom-zoom.” The Mazda3 has a nice dose of that.
Standard interior goodies and safety features are numerous and darn near luxury level in some cases. Mileage is pretty good at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.
A minor gripe: I never got a good adjustment on 360-degree vision. I had to routinely move my head around to catch the blind spots, turning it more than 90 degrees to spot a sedan on my left side. That could have something to do with my 6-4 frame, but I was extra-careful with lane changes.
The Mazda3 was reworked for the 2010 model year, so changes for 2011 are relatively few.
Overall, the Mazda3 is a great car for a young couple or young family. It also stacks up as a sound second car to run all those weekend errands.