"I purchased a sGT hatchback in April 2014. I have the technology package and a few accessories added on top. The only options I didn't choose were the parking sensors or interior lighting kit. Needless to say, I got this car fully loaded, and it still only came to $31,000 with tax (6% in PA). I've often felt this car was compared to the wrong vehicle segment, because the standard equipment you get, plus the options with the technology package, far excels that of entry level luxury vehicles. And the kicker is, they all work and do their job just as good as or better than when you pay for them as options in brands such as BMW, Mercedes, or Audi. You truly do get your money's worth with this car. Is it $30,000 for a Mazda?? Yes, but you'll be happier than if you spent $36,000 on an entry level Audi A3 and got half of the equipment you have on the 3.
As for the car itself, it is not without its flaws. Many of the common annoyances mentioned on other reviews I too have experienced. The navigation unit has experienced a few glitches (nothing catastrophic, but still not perfect), I've had a few rattles from the doors that I found out to be loose cover panels behind the door handles, my rear speakers cut out once for no reason, and I've had the service reminder light come on when it had to reason to. Again, nothing major, but these are annoyances that should be addressed. Other than these, though, the car has been flawless. It drives like a rear wheel drive car, but with all the snow we've received in New England this winter, it has glided through thick and sloppy snow like a normal FWD vehicle. If you have any appreciation for driving dynamics, you cannot beat the Mazda. The steering is weighted and sharp (surprising for an electronically controlled system), the chassis is firm but soft enough to enjoy a comfortable drive, and the automatic transmission is a work of engineering art. It knows what you want, when you want it, and in sport/manual mode, the car comes alive with great vigor. Make no mistake, this is a smile every drive kind of car. You will not find this in a Toyota or Honda.
The interior is extremely well thought out. Everything I need to be aware of is within my line of sight and there is nothing to distract me from the road. The heads up display may seem gimmicky, but I find it to be very helpful for keeping my eyes on the road (especially since I commute 100 miles every day on the highway). Buttons are easy to understand, find, and they all have a superior quality feel to them, especially for a vehicle that is not considered luxury. The command dial is weighted, and surrounded in a nice aluminum encasement. It rivals Audi and BMW's systems. The BOSE sound system is decent as well. Not the best, but when I want to jam out, it delivers. Sadly, satellite radio does not broadcast in HD, and FM stations that do broadcast in HD shift in and out of it depending on the signal strength, so you're constantly hearing a change in sound quality, but when you do have the HD signal, or you have a high quality mp3 file playing from your phone, it's a happy time. Speaking of phones, the Bluetooth works seamlessly for calls and music. Text message read out is difficult, as is e-mail, and the voice command is a bit off. I think this is more comparability of the phone than the car's system, but who really needs to read their email while driving? The navigation system works very well, and the graphics are very sharp and creative too.
The leather on the seats is supple, and even with the almond interior, easy to maintain. The stitching is beautiful and the seats themselves are comfortable for long drives (I've done four 6+ hour drives in this car so far and no complaints from my back). I would prefer some more thigh support from the seat bottom, but that's because I have long legs (I'm 5'11" by the way). The rear seat space is fine for children, and OK for 6' adults on short trips, but they are admittedly tight feeling. Head room is plenty good, and sight lines are good too. I do have a minor complaint with the HVAC system, though, and that is when it is in automatic mode for heating, it will heat the car by focusing air into the foot wells and the outer air vents, closing on the middle vents. This leaves my right hand cold and my feet and left hand warm. Easily fixed by changing the direction of the air, but I wish it did this on its own.
Lastly, cargo space is sufficient for a car of this size. With the rear seats folded flat in the hatch, I have been able to carry a lot of cargo. I used to have a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and I've felt little pain in downsizing to the 3. I've hauled suitcases, sound systems, boxes, clothes, etc. in single hauls a couple of times (specifically when I was moving from PA to MA). I do wish for bigger storage pockets in the doors as opposed to the water bottle holders there, but such is life. Running errands, a heavy Home Goods shopping spree, or even purchasing a new 60" TV have all fit just fine in the 3's trunk.
If you're considering a compact vehicle with good value, performance, comfort, and mileage (I average 33mpg with the i-eloop system on a 20/80 city/highway split), definitely consider the 3. If you're looking at an Audi A3, BMW 1, 2, or X1, or a Mercedes CLA or C300, definitely take a look at the standard features and options list of the 3 and compare to any of those vehicles. Dollar for dollar, none of them can beat the 3; you're paying for their name. I used to work for BMW, and I love them, but my money is better spent elsewhere. And the best part of my Mazda ownership thus far, 0 maintenance issues in 20,000+ miles (except for standard oil changes and tire rotation), and the car is holding its value quite well 1 year in."
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