My wife and I recently traded in our Mazda 6 for a Mazda 3 Sport as we wanted something a bit smaller. We are thrilled to bits with the 3, especially the performance. Had to go up country to get it as so much cheaper and we could get the colour we wanted (velocity red).
The glove box has to be one of the biggest in this class and the boot space isn't a lot smaller to the 6 we had. The ride is quite firm as you'd expect from the Sport version but is not uncomfortably so - helped by really supportive seats. Driving position can be adjusted along with the steering wheel and visibility is excellent.
Only gripe we've had is corrosion on the alloy wheels (ours is a 2004, 54 model). Having spoken to other owners on http://www.mazda3forums.co.uk it appears this is quite a common problem that can be sorted under warranty - we're seeing if our 6 month warranty from the dealership will cover ours.
We bought an Isofix car seat for our young lad and it is so simple to fit. Feels much more secure than the ordinary seat belt secured ones.
Running costs depend on how heavy your right foot is! Insurance Group 8 is very reasonable for a reasonably nippy car.
All in all, we're pleased we made the change. Got practicality and performance. Love the fact there aren't that many on the road still.
Myself and my son bought one each of these in Jan. 2006. Neither clock worked properly. Later (before 20k miles) my son's gear box packed in. Mazda customer service did nothing, as did garage where we purchased re the clocks. Took 6 months to get new clocks from different Mazda dealers. My son's local garage said they would support him on the gearbox, but Mazda might claim it was normal wear and tear. This after only about 16 months! Back to Toyota next time!
9000 miles in and I'm delighted with my MPS.
The highlight is undoubtedly the 2.3 turbo engine, which is smooth, virtually lag-free, and offers an abundance of power and torque in any gear.
It even manages to be relatively economical, thanks to direct injection, and I achieve a real-world 26mpg (albeit exclusively on Shell V-Power).
The ride and handling balance of my standard (non-Aero) car is ideally suited to UK roads; firmly damped but never uncomfortable, while turn-in is sharp, thanks to quick steering, and body movement is kept well in check.
A fine six-speed box with sensible ratios and strong, confidence-inspiring brakes complete the dynamic package.
The steering is perhaps a little over-assisted, and rear-visibility isn't great, but otherwise it's a pleasure to drive.
Torque-steer is almost never an issue in everyday driving, thanks to the electronic management in 1st and 2nd gear, although caution is obviously required in the wet.
General refinement is much better than expected from a hot hatch and, together with the long-legged and torquey engine, makes the MPS a suprisingly good long-distance machine.
The cabin is pretty much standard '3', but tastefully executed and well-equipped.
The MPS is not the obvious choice in the sub-£20k hot hatch market, but it's undoubtedly the quickest, and a great alternative to the usual suspects, especially if you like speed served with a bit of stealth.
I suspect that most people who end up buying a Mazda 3 MPS did not have it at the top of their list when they started thinking of which car to buy next. I looked at both the Golf Gti and Civic Type R after looking at a number of other models.
The Golf is a great car but to get a similar spec as the Mazda meant spending nearly £23,000 and the Civic lost out on only having three doors and being a little too aggressively styled for anyone wishing to avoid unwanted attention.
The seats are brilliant, the Bose stereo is great and the driving position is easily the best of any car I have recently owned (BMW 3 Series, Mini Cooper S).
This car can be driven gently through town or let loose on the A roads. There is a little torque steer if you plant the throttle, especially in low gears, but it keeps on accelerating to the red line with enthusiasm. Long distance cruising is comfortable and has returned 37mpg but usually levels out at about 30mpg.
The only slight gripes are a lack of options on the list. I would have liked full leather, heated seats and cruise control but they are not available. I managed to buy mine three months old from a main dealer for £15,500 including Supaguard treatment and I can't think of another car that represents such good value for money or that can leave boy racers scratching their heads as you breeze by!
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