Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Search for my next car.. MAZDASPEED 3 test ride review

As my second post for Car Test Ride blog... I am going to talk a bit about the quest for my next car. The lease on my 2004 Audi A4 is up in January, so I started doing a bit of new car shopping a little early. Although I must say the build quality of a German car has spoiled me, and I swore I'd only own German cars from now on, there was one car I just had to check out in person... And that car was the 2007 MAZDASPEED 3 .. When I arrived at my local Mazda dealer.. as I pulled into the customer parking area.. of course sitting right up front was a beautiful Black over Black Speed3. A quick walk around of the car and immediately I was drawn and the subtle details that makes this car stand out from the Standard Mazda 3 sport.. I loved the stance of the 18 inch alloys.. bold but not ridicules.. I loved all the little curves and bulges that make this car look like a 800 lbs gorilla bulging out of a undersized crate with a small caution sticker "BEWARE... WILD BEAST INSIDE."

After a short chat with the salesman.. I sat in the car as he ran inside to get the keys. My first thought was, although it does have some very typical Japanese build touches (the econo box orange/red gauges)... The fit and finish was quite good. Driver room was above average (Being 6'3) I found the driving position very comfortable (even though the seat was pretty much all the way back). Trunk space was very good.. and gives an added practicality bonus when considering purchasing this car.

The Salesman soon returned and we began our test ride. First impression was the exhaust was throaty.. but not the annoying coffee can rattle of some Japanese aftermarket exhausts. I will say the clutch was a bit touchy at first... and may take a bit getting used to. As we pulled onto a main road.. I immediately pushed the car to around 70% throttle shifting at about 5500rpm. Power was almost instant from the 2.3L Direct injected I4 churning out 263hp and 280 lb ft of torque.. and I noticed very little turbo lag at all. The gearbox was short and notchy.. and seemed very easy to snap the right gear. Although Mazda has put a quite complex torque steer management system in this car, it definitely hasn't alleviated all of it. It wasn't unbearable, but made me a bit more cautious on hard acceleration. Soon after testing the cars impressive power, we then got to a more twisty area of road and I think this is where this little car really comes to life! The Handling was fantastic! It's as if this car had been set up for the track, but yet they found that perfect balance of handling without a total back breaking ride. The car pulls hard out of corners with what seems just endless amounts of grip.. and aside from the torque steer.. This car definitely can handle on par with cars 3 times its price!

And speaking of price.. The "Sport" model I tested has an MSRP of just over 22K!! A giant of a car for little costs! Some dealers do have a premium mark up on these cars.. but I'm hoping the 2008 models will be more available and help keep that price point down.

In summary.. this is a great car! I would buy one in a second! I do have some more research to do such as Car Insurance rates, and resale, but there is really nothing bad I can say about it.. Although I am a die hard German car guy.. This car is definitely on my top 5 list! (well.. of cars I can actually afford)

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