AutoTest File - 2004 Mazda 3 Five-Door

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    [​IMG]

    All Revved Up: Taking Zoom-Zoom to the Next Level

    [​IMG]

    (08:30 April 05, 2004)

    If Mazda has been slow delivering on the promise of its zoom-zoom advertising campaign, as some have charged, it's time to quit whining and start driving. With the new 3, an entry-level five-door, Mazda is now in overdrive, offering a hot little runner that is the best game in town for buyers of sporty import hatchbacks.

    Everyone at AutoWeek who has driven the car-from our editors at Brewery Park headquarters in Detroit to our track testers in California-is impressed with its numbers and road manners. The Mazda 3 brings a superior level of performance and refinement to its class. Owners tell us they rejected BMWs, Saabs, Volkswagens and Acuras, more legendary driver's cars, in favor of the 3, a car that manages to be fun, versatile and good-looking while not costing you an arm and a leg.

    With a base price of $17,415, the dynamic 3 comes in well below the funky Toyota Matrix XRS we tested last year, a $19,235 car whose powertrain underwhelmed. Unlike the Matrix's torque-challenged 1.8-liter four, the 3's 2.3-liter produces lots of good, bottom-end twisting force. On the highway you are liable to find yourself cruising in fourth gear instead of fifth, without the thrashing and buzzing most four-cylinder engines generate (the Matrix XRS needs its sixth gear to quiet it down).

    The 3's acceleration times are good, running to 60 mph in 7.97 seconds, better than the Matrix's 8.14 seconds (Jan. 20, 2003) and a significant improvement over the 9.53 of its Protegé5 predecessor (June 3, 2002). The 3 charged through the slalom like a pro, hitting 46.0 mph and besting the Matrix's respect-able MR2-topping 45.5 mph. In fact, the Mazda's handling prowess matches that of several dedicated sports cars we've tested, including the BMW M3, Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V, Aston Martin Vanquish and Infiniti G35 Coupe. This speaks well for the 3's suspension and steering, seeing as it does this on M+S-rated tires.

    The car hops just a bit over poor pavement and tire thump is moderate-only a little comes through to the cabin. Overall the Mazda 3's ride is quiet and composed, with the atmosphere of a larger, more luxurious car.

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    Unlike the wobbly shifters you find in many front-drive cars, the 3's has a crisp feel, with shift action smooth and precise. We also like the steering, which responds well to aggressive inputs and provides good, on-center feel.

    The 3's 120-foot 60-mph-to-0 braking figure is a five-foot improvement over the Protegé5 and SE-R Spec V. It is much better than the Mitsubishi Lancer's 144 feet (April 22, 2002) and the Honda Civic Si's 141 (Sept. 9, 2002). The Matrix needed just 114 feet to stop from 60.

    Little things that impressed us about our Winning Blue test car include its mechanical seat adjustments and rapid defrosting action of the windshield. The instrument panel is well laid out and there is a knob on the dash that lets you aim the headlights where you want. The seats are supportive and are covered in a nice, high-quality fabric. The car's paint is flawless and its panel gaps are thin and even all around. About the only thing on this tester we didn't quite get was the navigation system. Delete that, a $1,750 option, along with the $590 leather seats, and you have a lot of car for less than $20,000.

    Owners who wrote us pointed to the 3's driving dynam-ics, athletic looks, standard level of content and ample storage space as reasons for buying the car. They also report high quality on delivery and good service from their dealers. Lack of standard ABS and a tad less communicative steering than the Protegé5 were the only real complaints.

    One owner calls his new Mazda 3 a revelation, saying it is more engaging to drive than his VR6 Jetta, another favorite around here. Indeed, the 3 has revved Mazda up, and if it wasn't before, zoom-zoom is alive and well.

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    LIKES

    Refined four-cylinder
    European style
    Room for a king-size mattress

    DISLIKES

    No standard ABS
    Navigation? Please. Just drive
    Steering could be a bit better

    OTHERS CONSIDERED

    used BMW 3 Series
    Subaru WRX
    Honda Civic Si

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    OWNERS SAY...

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    To say I'm pleased with the Mazda 3 would be an understatement. This car is a great choice for those who like to be involved in the driving experience. The engine has good torque and is strong at high rpm, while the precision and smoothness of the gearbox is equal to a Honda's. The adjustable steering wheel and generous seat adjustments make it easy to find a comfortable seating position. The interior is comfortable yet functional with well-placed controls. The fit-and-finish and paint quality are also excellent. I just wish it had more supportive seats and a better stereo. Paul Wilson, Austin, Texas

    We love the European look of the car. We considered the Protegé5, but it didn't have much acceleration. The 3 is quick and responsive, the clutch is almost perfect and it handles wonderfully. The controls are logically placed and my tall frame was very comfortable with plenty of headroom. The five-door even swallowed a king-size mattress. I enjoy driving this car far more than any other car I have owned. Eric Depkin, Perry Hall, Md.

    The 3 is much more engaging to drive than my Jetta. My only complaint is the steering, which is not as precise as the Protegé5. The 3's suspension makes my VW feel like an old Buick. The tranny and shift linkage are awesome and the four-cylinder is silky smooth while still retaining an aggressive nature. I wish ABS was standard, but the 17-inch wheels, tilt/telescoping steering wheel and sharp colors all help me forgive that. Pete Montero, Ann Arbor, Mich.

    I almost purchased an Acura RSX Type-S. I'm glad I walked away, because the Mazda is a much better car. I like the practicality and extra hauling capacity the five-door provides. I'm amazed it feels as quick as it does. The shifter is precise, but fifth gear is awkward-ly spaced way to the right. I couldn't get ABS without getting a larger package, but I'm still impressed with the fea- tures that come on the base model. Doug Kiger, Tacoma, Wash.

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    STICKER
    Base (includes $520 delivery): $17,415
    As tested: $22,145
    Owners paid; average: $16,370 to $19,239; $18,117


    OPTIONS AS TESTED
    Navigation system ($1,750); moonroof
    and six-disc CD package ($890); ABS and
    airbag package, which includes front, rear
    and side airbags, four-wheel disc brakes,
    ($800); bi-xenon and tire-pressure monitor
    package ($700); leather seats ($590)

    OTHER MAJOR OPTIONS
    Four-speed automatic transmission ($900);
    appearance package, which includes rear
    spoiler, front and rear skirts ($650); MP3
    player ($325); HomeLink universal transmitter
    ($300); rear skirt diffuser ($220); cassette
    player ($200)

    CHASSIS
    Unibody five-door hatchback

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase (in): 103.9
    Track (in): 60.2 front, 59.6 rear
    Length/width/height (in): 176.6/69.1/57.7
    Curb weight/GVWR (lbs): 2826/3843

    CAPACITIES
    Fuel (gal): 14.5
    Cargo (cu ft): 17.1

    ENGINE
    Front-transverse 2.3-liter/137.9-cid dohc I4
    Horsepower: 160 @ 6500 rpm
    Torque (lb-ft): 150 @ 4500 rpm

    Compression ratio: 9.7:1
    Fuel requirement: 87 octane

    DRIVETRAIN
    Front-wheel drive
    Transmission: Five-speed manual
    Final drive ratio: 4.11:1

    SUSPENSION
    Front: MacPherson struts with coil springs,
    gas-charged shock absorbers, antiroll bar
    Rear: Multilink with coil springs,
    gas-charged shock absorbers, antiroll bar

    BRAKES/WHEELS/TIRES
    Discs front and rear, ABS with electronic
    brake force distribution, aluminum
    205/50R-17 Goodyear Eagle RS-A

    STANDING-START ACCELERATION
    0-60 mph: 7.97 sec
    0-100 km/h (62.1 mph): 8.43 sec
    0-quarter-mile: 16.23 sec @ 85.9 mph

    ROLLING ACCELERATION
    20-40 mph (second gear): 3.7 sec
    40-60 mph (second gear): 4.1 sec
    60-80 mph (third gear): 6.1 sec

    BRAKING
    60 mph-0: 120 ft

    HANDLING
    490-foot slalom: 46.0 mph
    Lateral acceleration (200-foot skidpad): 0.86 g


    INTERIOR NOISE (dBA)
    Idle: 42
    Full throttle: 79
    Steady 60 mph: 68

    FUEL MILEAGE
    EPA combined: 27.70 mpg
    AW overall: 21.20 mpg

    [​IMG]
     
  2. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    IBiZero
     
  3. iZero

    iZero Guest

    :eek3:
     
  4. ocular

    ocular Active Member

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    this makes me want to buy one again...
     
  5. Ry-Ballz

    Ry-Ballz This sucks, change the channel

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    I almost with I didn't by my 6.
     
  6. midnite

    midnite OT Supporter

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    fucking :cool: little car.

    I could cut off at least 2k without the stereo and nav :) no need for nav and stock stereos = teh lose
     
  7. Dr. Woo

    Dr. Woo Guns don't kill people

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    Me likey.
     
  8. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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  9. KW

    KW Guest

    I've got about 1600 miles on mine (just drove about 500 highway miles over the weekend) and I love it. This car just blows away every other car in it's class I've ever driven. It took me about 4 hours to cover the first half of the trip and the seats were very comfortable. With 3 people and our luggage on board the car didn't feel too cramped. I really love the power delivery from the engine - it has impressive torque for a 4 cylinder but still loves to pull to redline. The shifter is awesome ... the only car I've driven with a better shifter was my friends S2000. The handling is really impressive for a FWD car. There is very little understeer and turn-in feels very sharp. I love how it looks, I love the interior, I love it's performance, and I love that it was still affordable and practical on top of all that.
     
  10. nateg

    nateg New Member

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    :wtf: Do they have their grandmothers test drive it? I got 7 seconds from 0-60.
     
  11. Shiva Chaos

    Shiva Chaos i see boobies!

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    you is slow.

    btw, I disagree with the low end torque, so does my friend who owns the 2.3 Mazda3.

    We both have to flog our cars
    ;-/
     
  12. nateg

    nateg New Member

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    Did you get under 7 seconds? :eek4: I may have to retry.
     
  13. KW

    KW Guest


    Well it's no V8. But compared to something like a Celica GT-S it feels pretty strong at low RPMs.
     
  14. Shiva Chaos

    Shiva Chaos i see boobies!

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    I got his down to 6.7 on the gtech


    i got mine to 6.5 (but i don't have a 3)
     
  15. nateg

    nateg New Member

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    Damn! Not bad! :bigthumb:

    I'll take your word for it. I was using a stopwatch. :rofl: :big grin:
     
  16. RedGoober4Life

    RedGoober4Life New Member

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    Volkswagen and the new SE-R are "driving cars" now. That made me laugh.
     
  17. Achmiel

    Achmiel Why do we feel it's necessary to yak about bullshi

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    So who's gonna do the first V6 engine swap?
     
  18. nateg

    nateg New Member

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    I'm waiting for someone to install a turbo first. :x:
     
  19. Shiva Chaos

    Shiva Chaos i see boobies!

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    hmm...

    well considering the mazdaspeed 6 will be a turbo'd 2.3....................

    dibs!
     
  20. nateg

    nateg New Member

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    I don't have one. :wtc:
     
  21. nateg

    nateg New Member

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    :cool: Man, I wonder if mazda will put out a turbo for the 3 when the Mazdaspeed 6 comes out. :x: That would be awesome! It wouldn't void the warranty! :bowdown:
     
  22. LabradorBoy

    LabradorBoy OT Supporter

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    You know they will.

    Once the Mazdaspeed Miata hits the showroom floors with the 6, the 3 willbe next. Mazda will let the 3's excitement die down a little bit first and then introduce the Mazdaspeed version to rekindle the fire.

    Look for it in 2 years. Not before.
     
  23. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

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    Great car mechanical wise. But the styling says, "Trying too hard."
     
  24. 93CivicEX

    93CivicEX Charming, Dashing, Rental car bashing

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    Id love one.

    a co-worker is gonna sell his WRX and get one (the WRX Is out of warranty, and hes simply not comfortable waiting for something else to break)...

    ...however, for him to find the charcoal, with leather, Xenon headlamps, and a 5 speed it was damn near impossible... finally the dealership ordered one... looks like its gonna be June before he gets it :hs:
     
  25. Scoob_13

    Scoob_13 Anything is possible, but the odds are astronomica

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    It's actually not that bad of a car. During the Mazda RevItUp I was so impressed with it that I am actually considering it as a cheap daily driver replacement while I purchase a home :o


    I hate FWD though :hsd:
     

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