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Thread: Our Mazda Connect and Mazda 3 review

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    Our Mazda Connect and Mazda 3 review

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    Today, I’m reviewing the Mazda3. Why a Mazda3 you ask? Why are you checking out a car? The answer is simple, I’ll review anything if I see it as an accessory for my phone. Until recently, cars and phones were very separate pieces of technology. You might be able to use your car to make calls and maybe play music from your iPod but other then that, there’s been very little integration between the two.

    That is until now. While we’re still in the initial stages of bringing the two together, it’s still worth checking out where we’re at right now. Mazda let me borrow a 3 with their solution called Mazda Connect which is what I’m checking out here:

    The Mazda3 I’m looking at 2014 GT model in Soul Red Mica ($300 extra) and comes with these features standard for $25,855:


    • SKYACTIV-G 2.5L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine
    • 184HP @ 5,700RPM
    • 185FT/LB Torque @ 3,250 RPM
    • SKYACTIV-AT 6-speed automatic transmission
    • drive selection switch with Sport Mode
    • bi-xenon HID headlights with manual leveling and LED light signature
    • LED tail lights
    • 18-inch alloy wheels
    • intelligent key system (proximity and ignition)
    • voice-activated navigation system
    • BOSE premium audio system with 9 speakers
    • Active Driving Display (ADD)
    • dual-zone automatic climate control
    • rearview camera
    • 7” touchscreen display with HMI commander
    • Bluetooth
    • USB/AUX inputs
    • heated seats


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    Plus the following options:

    Luxury Package $1,500:
    • Leather seats
    • leather-like door trim
    • garage door opener
    • 6-way power driver's seat (recline, lift, fore/aft)
    • manual driver lumbar support
    • auto dimming inner rear view mirror
    • leather-like rear console lid


    Tech package $2,500:
    • Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA)
    • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
    • High Beam Control (HBC)
    • Smart City Brake Support (SCBS)
    • Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS)
    • SIRIUS Satellite Radio
    • i-ELOOP Regenerative Braking System


    So, the GT with the Red paint and the 2 packages weighs in at a hefty $30,155 before taxes, freight and PDI.

    On the hardware-side, Mazda Connect consists of a 7” display which sits on top of the dash, and a controller just below the shifter. You can also access voice commands and volume controls via buttons on the steering wheel.

    The controller is a substantial knob that you can move up/down/left/right or turn. You can press it in to select.

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    In the armrest are a pair of USB ports, MicroSD slot and 12 volt outlet and a line in.

    Web services:

    When it comes to web services, Mazda Connect supports Aha, Pandora and Stitcher. They’re all web radio providers. The apps for all 3 are only available on iOS or Android so if you’re using a Blackberry (both BB7 and BB10) or Windows Phone, you’re out of luck.

    The way I see it is that while most phones are only going to be used for 3 to 5 years tops, cars need to last much, longer, typically 10 years and often longer. So it’s really hard for Mazda to figure which web radio providers to support.

    Another thing to remember is that right now, there hasn’t been enough consolidation in this space so Mazda decided to go with those 3 services to hedge their bets.

    As the web radio industry matures and consolidates I hope Mazda they will keep up to date.

    Aha:

    Aha is web radio service with over 100,000 channels which range from music, audio books, news, sports to talk radio.

    To use the 3’s Aha feature, you first have to have the Aha app installed on your phone.

    Besides using Aha to listen to different radio channels, it can also your Facebook and Twitter feeds to you.

    After you install Aha on your phone and sign up, go to the Aha website on your computer and set up your channels along with your Facebook and Twitter logins.

    Aha works via Bluetooth. Your phone will stream the audio to the car while the car is able to control Aha on your phone.

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    Your Facebook and Twitter feeds just show up as channels alongside your music. Do you want to listen to dance, country, your Facebook or your Twitter, that sort of thing.

    When you’re listening to music, you can fast skip forwards to the next song.

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    As for Facebook, it only reads you your Facebook updates and not your Facebook messages.
    You can pick from a list of your friends or just listen to all their updates one after another.

    There are some problems, some of which aren’t really Aha’s fault. First off, a lot of people post a link or a picture and then comment on it. All the 3 does is read you the contents of the post and the poster’s profile picture. It completely ignores URL’s and doesn’t show posted pictures. So, a lot of the time you’ll have no idea what your friends are talking about.

    You can like your friend’s updates or post a shout which uploads a voice clip to Facebook as a new message.

    Aha also has location based recommendations.

    Pandora:

    Pandora is a web radio service that isn’t available in Canada. Since I’m in Canada, I couldn’t try it.

    Stitcher:

    Stitcher allows you to listen to over 25,000 Podcasts and Public Radio shows. It’s less about music and more about listening to talk radio.

    Unlike Aha, which prefers that you to setup your preferences and favorite channels on your computer or your phone, Stitcher allows you a lot more freedom to find different things to listen to using the 3. Still, if you don’t want to fiddle around with the car so much, you can also use your iOS or Android device to set up your lists but not your computer’s web browser.

    How well does it all work?

    I initially tried Mazda Connect with my iPhone 5s running iOS 7 via Bluetooth and unfortunately, I ran into a couple of problems some of which aren’t really Mazda Connect’s fault. While I’m able to make calls and search my phonebook just fine, I wasn’t able to check my text messages or email. I guess you could argue that not checking your texts and email in a car isn’t necessarily a bad thing but for some reason, those options were greyed out when I tried to access them.

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    As for the web services, they did work, but every time I went to use them, my iPhone asked me if I wanted to allow Aha/Stitcher to access my phone. There was no ‘don’t ask me again’ feature. The problem with this is that a lot of time sometimes I’m already driving when this message pops up. Still, this isn’t really Mazda connect’s fault, it’s more of a horrible iOS idiosyncrasy - I have this problem all the time with my Pebble Steel.

    That’s not all though; a couple of times the 3 would connect to my iPhone and while I was able to control it with the car, the music would play through my iPhone’s speakers. I’m not sure if this is a Mazda connect or an iPhone problem but either way, it was very annoying.

    I did find that I was able to sometimes overcome this problem by connecting my iPhone directly to the car via the USB port, and then playing music from it and then switching back to Aha (which runs over Bluetooth) but it didn’t always work. Hopefully, Mazda can get to the bottom of this because it takes a lot of attention to troubleshoot something like this.

    If you’re using Stitcher, there is an easier fix: When Stitcher is running on the Mazda3, you can click an icon on the iPhone’s screen to transfer the audio to the car.

    On Android, it’s a little better. I used my Nexus 5 running a preview of Android L and a Samsung Galaxy S5. On the phone side, I can do everything with the Nexus 5 that the iPhone can plus I’m able to check my text messages. You can respond to texts but only using customizable predefined messages. I think there’s space for 20 canned responses. Personally, the only phrases I would use are “I’m driving, please call me”, “I’m driving, I’ll call you later” and “I’m running late”. While that worked, the email portion didn’t. However, as I was returning the Mazda3, someone at Mazda demonstrated to me how they were able to check the email on their HTC One M8 using the 3 so I guess on Android, it’s hit and miss.

    The web services side on Android is much more reliable too. The 3 connected to my Nexus 5 every time and except for the first time, it never asked me for permission when I tried to use it.

    I already mentioned that the web services don’t have Windows Phone or Blackberry apps but you can still access the phone portions of these devices with Mazda connect.

    The best results came when I connected a Blackberry Bold 9900. When I hook that up, I can do everything I can with my iPhone plus I can send and receive texts and check email. The 3 can read you back your messages but it doesn’t do so well if you receive a HTML formatted email.

    Ironically, while the Bold 9900 running BB7 works great, my Blackberry Z10 running BB10 wouldn’t even pair so I can’t comment on how well the 3 works with it. While I kind of doubt this is the case for everyone, I don’t have any other BB10 devices lying around so I couldn’t try them.

    To test Windows phone I used a Nokia Lumia 635 running Windows 8.1. I’m able to access the phonebook and make calls but I can’t text or email.

    I noticed that audio skips every now and then when I’m using the menus. When you access the settings menu, it sometimes takes a second to full draw the screen. I wonder whether these are signs that Mazda connect is a little underpowered or if they’re just minor bugs that need to be squashed.

    Music stored on your device:

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    If you have a iPhone full of music, the 3 is able to access all the music on it just like you were using your iPhone. You can browse by artist, album, playlist, etc. This works over Bluetooth or you can also plug your iPhone into one of the 2 USB jacks in the arm rest.

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    It’s able to control Android too but you don’t get as many options how the order you want to listen to your music in. There’s no way to view all your songs as a list. All you can do is skip forwards and backwards and choose to shuffle the order of your music. Since the 3 plays all music on your device it will even play files outside of your music directory - I didn’t try this myself but I’d imagine that this can be a problem if you have a rooted device since the 3 might pick up every single audio file on your device.

    When you hook up an Android phone to the USB port, you’re not able to listen to it this way. All it will do is charge. I don’t think putting an Android phone into mass storage mode (if you’re fortunate enough to have this) is a work-around either. When you plug your phone in, the phone won’t prompt you to choose which USB mode you want it to use.

    Windows Phone also works via Bluetooth. There’s an option to browse your files but it didn’t work when I tried it. When you connect it via USB, the 3 can only charge it.

    The Blackberry Bold 9900 is similar to Android. You can play your music over Bluetooth but you can’t view all your songs as a list. And all it does is charge when you connect it to a USB port.

    While I give Mazda connect points for trying, unless you connect an iOS device via USB, the easiest way to get your music onto the 3 is to just buy a flash drive and put music on it.

    One thing that really bothered me about Mazda Connect, is that it doesn’t show you what’s playing unless you’re in the music screen. So, if you’re using the Nav or have some other screen up, there’s no ‘what’s playing’ area anywhere.

    The Display:

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    Front and center is the 7” Mazda Connect screen. It sits on top of the dash and while it looks like it retracts, it doesn’t. It has an unfortunate aftermarket look to it. What I found was that everyone who saw it tried to remove it because they thought it was a fancy looking GPS or some other type of car tablet or gadget. I wonder if anyone has tried stealing the screen.

    Despite the tuner look, I like that the fact that it sits on top of the dash. It means you don’t have to move your eyes from the road as much when you glance at it.

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    I can tell Mazda spent a lot of time with the graphics on the display because they look nice and there’s a constant theme that permeates all the menus and options. It does not look like a bunch of different systems from different suppliers that was slapped together. I also like that it has no HVAC controls.

    Controls:

    There are some controls on the steering wheel, a control knob with some more buttons below the shifter, climate controls are where they should be plus the display is touch sensitive.

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    The steering wheel controls work well. There are quite a few buttons but they’re laid out logically. Mazda needs to put a volume mute on the steering wheel.

    I normally don’t like touchscreens in cars but they are very useful if you’re entering addresses.

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    The controller is big and beefy. It clicks when you turn it or it can move up/down/left/right. There’s a button on top that you can press to select. It’s flanked by a back button, home screen, music and navigation shortcuts and a favorites button. When you press it, you can quickly access your favorite radio stations, contracts and addresses.

    It would have been nice if there were track forward and skip buttons near the controller.

    Voice Control:

    If you want to access Google Now, or Siri, you’ll have to access it via your phone since the 3 has its own built-in voice recognition.

    You can control a lot of the 3’s functions via the voice control button on the steering wheel. If you’re using it for the first time make sure you ask it ‘help’ because the 3 is kind of picky as to which words you use. Myself, I wasn’t able to use it till I checked out the help.

    I’ll be honest, it’s easier and more importantly, faster to control the 3 using buttons instead of voice commands. The only time I recommend you use the voice command is if you’re trying to enter an address into the GPS.

    Navigation:

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    Like the rest of Mazda Connect, the Navigation graphics and menus look really slick. It has support for traffic but I’m not sure if it gets the traffic data from WiFi, Satellite radio or just plain FM traffic.

    There are both 2D and 3D displays. When you have guidance active, the GPS uses the HUD to show you what’s coming up.

    By default, when guidance is active the screen is kind of cluttered. Fortunately, you can clean things up by disables some of the extra information you don't need.

    I really like how the display shows what street is coming up even when you’re not using the Nav.

    It’s a nice nav but it has one serious weakness - you can’t type in addresses unless the car is going slower than 7Km/h. I don’t think there’s an option to disable this.

    Fortunately, you can enter addresses using voice commands. The command is ‘Enter Address”.

    The address entry is hit and miss. After the prompt you to say the full address including the street name, city and province/state. Sometimes it’s brilliant at recognizing addresses while other times it’s infuriatingly inaccurate. In a twist of irony, when I was returning the 3 it took me many tries to get it to recognize Mazda Canada’s address.

    Stereo:

    The GT trim comes standard with Bose stereo system. There are 9 speakers in all: one in the center of the dash, one on each corner of the dash, a woofer in each door and 2 more ahead of the rear window.

    Bose is a polarizing company when it comes to audio. Some of their products are quite good while some, well the saying goes: “no highs, no lows, must be Bose”.

    On the plus side, the Bose system in the 3 is quite powerful/loud. On the downside, it doesn’t have the greatest sound quality. It sounds clumsy and isn’t very clear. It can be punchy in the lower-midrange but there isn’t a lot of low-end bass. Overall, while it’s better than some stock stereo’s, in absolute terms, it’s not that great. I will say, though, that it’s good enough that you do get used to it after a while.

    If Mazda charged extra just to get this stereo, I’d say skip it but since it’s standard on the GT trim I’ll give it a pass, albeit barely.

    The rest of the tech:

    When it comes to powering your gadgets, there’s a 12V outlet in the arm rest along with a SD card slot (reserved for the Nav I think), a line-in and a pair of USB ports. If you’re wondering how fast the USB ports are, I plugged my Nexus 5 with a dead battery for an hour and it managed to get it up to 61% which means it can charge at around 1.4 amps. 1.4amps isn’t bad but what I found was that it wasn’t enough to charge my iPhone when I had the screen on and WiFi hotspot and Bluetooth running. I basically had a net charge rate of zero. Turning the screen off does allow it to charge, albeit slowly. I didn’t get hard numbers to back this up but adding a second device appears to drops the charge rate further.

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    There’s a rubberized flat surface right under radio/climate controls. I’m a little disappointed that there isn’t a second 12V outlet or USB ports there too since that’s probably where most people will be putting their phones. I just ended up running a cable from the USB port in the armrest to this area. The space actually extends under the radio, though there isn’t much clearance there.

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    There’s a tray in the armrest to put your phone but it’s not very big so anything bigger than an iPhone is going to be a challenge let alone trying to charge it while it's there.

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    If you move the tray out of the way, you can fit a small tablet in the armrest if you put it at an angle.

    Aside from the 12V outlet in the armrest, I don’t think there are any other ones located in the 3.

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    If you get the Tech package, it comes with Mazda’s i-ELOOP energy recovery system. Basically, when you coast or brake, you turn an alternator which stores energy inside a capacitor. The capacitor is able to power the 3’s electronic systems for up to a minute or 2 after which it switches to the battery.

    I have mixed feels about i-ELOOP. One on hand, it doesn’t even help propel the 3 forward, on the other hand, since all it does is power the 3’s electrical systems, there’s very little weight penalty so you don’t have to sacrifice driving dynamics for a few tenths of a MPG.

    Keen drivers will like the heads up display. When you first start the car, a little display on top of the dash pops up. The display is actually just a clear piece of plastic which shows a reflection of a screen located above the cluster cowl.

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    I noticed 3 things about the HUD, first off, if only has a viewing angle of about 10 degrees in each direction so only the driver can see it. If you point out to your passenger, they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Secondly, the HUD is awesome because now you can see how fast you’re going while you’re cornering.

    Thirdly, sometimes I see double when I glance at it because when I’m driving, my eyes are usually focused a few 100 meters in front of me so my eyes don’t have time to readjust to the distance. This isn’t really the HUD’s fault but it’s something worth mentioning.

    If you don’t like the HUD, the speed is also displayed in the bottom right corner of the tach but you can never disable the HUD so that it doesn’t pop up - all you can do is turn off the display until you restart the car.

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    Here’s something funny, there’s a digital speedometer in the bottom right corner of the Tach. I suspect the 3 was set up so that only the driver knows how fast the 3 is going. When I use the 3, my wife hasn’t complained about my speed once.

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    The rear-view mirror is auto dimming but the side view mirrors aren’t. It’s also where the 3 home link (garage door openers) buttons are.

    Safety nannies are all the rage right now - aside from the usual stuff like traction control, ABS and airbags, the 3 has collision mitigation which can stop the car before you crash.

    They call it Smart City Braking and it works at speeds of 4-30km/h and will put the car to a complete stop if you’re about to run into something. It’s so you don’t rear-end other car. I did test it out on a different Mazda a while back and it works provided you didn’t turn it off like here. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBy78UJ081w)

    You also get lane departure warning which will shake the steering wheel or sound a beep if you leave your lane. I’ll be honest but I couldn’t figure out how to get this feature working.

    My favorite feature is the blind spot monitoring which lights up an icon on the side-view mirror if there’s something there plus beeps if you start signalling. It’s a very useful feature at night.

    These safety nannies are great but I wonder if they’ll make some drivers more confident of their ability to use their phone while they drive. Are the blind spot monitoring, smart city brake and lane departure warning a tech package or a text package?

    The car has both Bluetooth and WiFi. The Bluetooth is to connect your phone to the car while the WiFi is for your car to connect to your phone’s WiFi hotspot.

    I’ll be honest, I’m not 100% sure what the built-in WiFi does. I think it’s to download traffic information but I get the feeling that the 3 can also pull traffic info from the built-in XM radio.

    Anyways, I found the WiFi to be extremely picky. I couldn’t get it to connect to my house WiFi (which should reach outside the house) or any of my Android phone’s wireless hotspots. I does connect to my iPhone’s hotspot but only sporadically.

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    In front are headlights with LED daytime running lights, Xenons for night time and high beams and halogen fog lamps. If you get the Tech package, you’ll absolutely adore the headlights because they’re adaptive and swing in the direction you’re turning in.

    Everything else:

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    The cabin is nicely appointed for a $30,000 sedan. The perforated leather seats are a nice balance between being supportive (sporty) while still being comfortable. Did I mention they’re heated? They front driver side seat has 3 way power adjustments but there’s no memory.

    If you’re allergic to hard plastics, there are some inside but aside from some buttons, most are in spots you won’t touch too often. The luxury package brings a slick leather-like dash that’s soft to the touch. It’s quite nice.

    The steering wheel looks great. It’s wrapped in leather and has nice ergonomics. It’s flanked by paddle shifters on each side.

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    The HVAC controls are excellent. They’re really intuitive to use and are completely controlled by the HVAC buttons. There’s dual-zone support so the driver and passenger each get their own setting. I think the AC condenser is electric instead of being pulled by the engine so when you get in, the 3 can get hot or cold very quickly.

    If you shop for a car based on how many cup holders it has, there 2 in the center console, one on each door that doesn’t fit tall containers and 2 more in the rear center armrest.

    Rear seats are nice.

    As far as interior space goes, while I’m short guy, I think most people will find space at the back adequate. I was able to fit 3 adult (one a little shorter) in the car along with 2 baby seats. It was a tight fit but it was do-able.

    The brake and gas are pretty close which is good if you need to work both pedals at once. At the same time, they’re not so close that people who have no idea what I’m talking about will complain about them being too close together.

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    One minor problem I noticed and it just might be me, is that the dead pedal to the left of the actual pedals is has a much steeper angle than I’m used to. I found it uncomfortable to rest my foot on it.

    The trunk is relatively deep and the rear seats fold down but the trunk opening is kind of narrow and the trunk itself is pretty low.

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    You get a smart key which allows you to open and close the doors and trunk by pressing a button on the handle without having to take your keys out or having to press a button on the fob. You can also use the push button start as long as the keys are in your pocket. When you leave the 3, it automatically locks itself.

    If you do want to use the fob, I noticed that the buttons on are all flat so it’s hard to use them without taking them out of your pocket and looking at them.

    Customization geeks will love all the options you can customize. You can control how loud the car beeps at you when there’s something in your blind spot, what happens when you leave the car (automatically lock or not), you can make the screen bright, adjust the contrast, adjust the location and brightness of the HUD, etc.

    Engine:

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    Under the hood is Mazda’s 2.5L, Skyactiv straight 4. Unlike most petrol burners, the 3’s engine has a diesel rivaling compression ratio of 14:1. You could say that the compression ratio is sky high. What makes this even more impressive is that it does this on REGULAR gas. This bucks the trend of other manufacturers downsizing their engines and slapping on a turbo.

    While the Skyactiv engine doesn’t have the low-end grunt of a turbo engine, the high compression ratio gives it enough low down torque that I didn’t find it lacking..

    Check it out, the 3 makes it’s maximum torque at 3,250RPM. That’s almost 1,000RPM lower and 14FT/LB more than the Civic Si/Acura ILX 2.4L engine (although those rev 700RPM harder and make another 17HP).

    Further, since the Skyactiv engine is naturally aspirated, compared to a boosted motor, it has a much sharper throttle response. It’s not a case of ‘almost no turbo lag’, since there’s no turbo at all, there’s no lag, period.

    Another benefit to keen drivers is that the naturally aspirated engine makes its maximum horsepower right before it’s 6,300RPM redline which makes wringing the 3 out much more rewarding than most turbos which platform after 4K.

    There’s just enough power that it pulls cleanly without feeling strained. You can shift manually using either the shifter or the included paddle shifters but I found the best way to pass a car is to push sport mode which makes the 3 use a lower gear, wait for your opening and then gunning it. When you do that, the transmission kicks down and responds very quickly and smoothly.

    In manual mode, the transmission responds fairly quickly. It’s not as fast as a proper dual clutch transmission but it’s pretty darn close. It’s a really nice transmission.

    As far as economy goes, I’m averaging around 8.0L/100KM in mixed driving. That doesn’t sound very good but given that I have a foot made of pure lead, this is pretty decent. The motor turns over at 1,800RPM at 100KM/h and 2,100 at 120.

    The Fuel capacity is 50L which the low-fuel light turning on with around 10L remaining.

    Brakes can be powerful but if you get i-ELOOP, the brakes are used to drive an alternator which means they don’t have a linear feel. The first ⅔ of the brakes feel kind of vague while the last ⅓ feels normal. You do get used to it but it’s really annoying at first. It also messes with you if you frequently switch between it and a car with regular brakes. When I climb in my regular car after driving the 3 I’m a little heavier on the brakes than I am normally for a while.

    While steering is very accurate, the power assistance does away with a lot of feeling so you’re left feeling the road through the seat of your pants. The 3 doesn’t understeer unless you really push it.

    There is a small problem with the steering. When I’m on the highway I found that I had to make a lot of small adjustments to keep the car going absolutely straight. At first I thought it was an alignment issue but the problem seems to be intermittent. I also don’t think caused by imperfections in the road. Focusing a few 100 meters ahead does help a little but the problem never really goes away.

    The suspension like the seats, tries to be sporty while still being comfortable. It corners reasonable well but if you push it, it does lean though. There isn't too much body roll. It also does a good job of absorbing bumps without making you feel too isolated from the road.

    Conclusion:

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    The 3 competes with other compacts like the Chevy Cruze, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra and Dodge Dart (did I miss any?). When it’s fully loaded, like the one I’m trying, it also an alternative to a basic Acura ILX and Buick Verano.0

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    I haven’t tried any of them but I will say that I was pretty happy with the 3. It places dynamics first without forgetting about comfort. The engine is a peach in the real world and everything is balanced.

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    As for Mazda Connect, what I liked about it is that you don’t need the top-of-the-line package to get it. The 3 comes in 3 levels; GX, GS and GT. To get it, all you need is the GS (starts at $19,795 AKA under 20K) or better. To sweeten the deal, the GS even comes with the rear view camera for that price though you don’t get the 2.5L engine.

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    If I was shopping the Mazda3 I’d probably get the GT for the engine but I’d skip the Luxury package (unless I need the leather and since I have kids, leather is easier to clean) and I’d also skip the Tech package, as the only feature I really liked on it are the swiveling headlights.

    In absolute terms, I thought Mazda Connect was a nice try. There are a few bumps in the road when you use it. For example, there’s no one phone that works with everything. If you want to access all the built-in phone functionality including texting and emails you need to use a 3 year old BlackBerry.

    If you want to access all the music on your device, then an iOS device provides the best user experience.

    If using web services is your thing then an Android phone is your best bet.

    The phone nerd in me appreciates that there are 2 USB ports to charge my phones plus there’s a 12 volt connector.

    Hopefully Mazda keeps Mazda Connect up to date and irons out the problems because it’s quite promising.

    I’d give the Mazda 3, 3.5 Howies out of 5 while Mazda connect gets 3 plus an extra half because it’s just a trim option and you don’t have to pay extra for it.

    Pictures by serenaray, HC - NO "i", howard

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    Folks,

    That reminds me of a conversation with Martin Cooper a while back about his invention and the Mazda 3 (2014)...

    https://twitter.com/tweet4howi/statu...08742737993728

    Anyway, as a passenger in the rear, the fold-down centre console is quite roomy for gadgets too...



    I would also consider the upcoming 2015 VW Jetta as a competitor as well... http://contents.vw.ca/models/2015-jetta/en/
    Last edited by HC - NO "i"; 08-20-2014 at 05:40 PM.
    --

    HC - NO "i"
    I am NOT "the" HC, we are TWO different individuals!


    "If we amplify everything, we hear nothing!" - Jon Stewart, Comedian

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    For Quality of Cell Service Industry Canada recommends driving a Convertible with the Top Down in The Sun!
    Maximum full use of your Expensive Hardware.and abilty to impress others with wrist worn EwearZ atire is accesible upon Buses and Trains 24/7
    Free Unlimited WiFi at Tims and Select Subway Stations so save commuting headaches and parking hijacking by Logging On and Nodding Off.

    Edit: HC no I apologies I forgot to mention at the HoFo meet last weekend was that a Nokia 6340 in your pocket or were you just happy to see moi?

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    The Mazda Infotainment system as they call it has been ridiculously buggy since day 1 last year. There are GPS mapping issues, connectivity issues with devices, especially with the iPhone including downloading your SMS into your car. USB tagging issues, and random boots just to name a few. I feel bad for all those folks who spent a lot of money on the tech package. In Canada, you have to have the leather package to get the tech package, which is baffling yet the two are shown separately including the price.

    Incidentally, I read somewhere that Mazda is using old (entertainment) tech going back to 2006 and beyond in their 2014 models. Soon the 2015s will be out, who knows if the current issues will be present in the new models.

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    Dang, that's one detailed review. I read about this car on other car specific site/forums, but thanks for sharing, lol.

    Not a fan of that 7" display (looks like an external Garmin or something) or the control knob, but I like reading about all the "new" technology in the car. I guess if it's buggy like GVRD777 mentioned above me, then there is no point in trying to incorporate even more of crap that doesn't work right to begin with.

    ~ Im2bz2p345

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    Just a side note. In the USA, Mazda has a firmware update for the Infotainment system. Right now, it's version 31; however, it's really bad and causing a lot if issues including worsening of previous issues that it was suppose to fix. Some dealers are refusing to update to latest update because of the above.

    In Canada, V30 is the latest. One of two things can be inferred: either Mazda Canada is slow in their updates or they know the update is flaky and won't push it.

    Either way, the infotainment issues aren't going away anytime soon.

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    Just a comment about the bugginess of Infotainment - I have a 2014 GS - I play music on my iPhone via USB and sometimes when I pair it with a GPS app, after a couple of voice prompts from the GPS the music cuts out with a loud static pop and refuses to come back on until you flip the audio source to something else and back.

    I just opted to use Bluetooth even though there is some audible choppiness in the first few seconds of a song. But it works fine when paired with a GPS app, so eh.

    And something like $700 for the Navigation package - I'll stick with more accurate apps on my phone, thanks Without the package the Nav button just brings up a compass.

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    Thanks for such a great review, especially your detailed coverage of the infotainment system.

    Something I've been trying to find out about the Mazda 3 is how nicely it plays with multiple bluetooth devices. For example, if both my wife and I drive the car, will it remember pairings with both of our phones? Also, if we both are in the car at the same time, how easy is it to switch from my phone to hers and back?

    Our current car will remember pairings with two devices, but to switch devices requires about 8 button presses, and then about 5 or 6 more button presses to get back out to the main menu where the volume control will work again.

    Another car we test drove would only remember a pairing with a single device. Pairing a second device meant replacing the first.

    Do you or any other forum members have any experience with multiple bluetooth devices and the Mazda Connect infotainment system?

    Thanks again!
    Zach

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