For the most part, this blog will be for reviewing things one might enjoy on a lazy day: movies, video games, junk food, etc. However, occasionally I will review something else, and today is one of those days. This week marks the one-year anniversary of my 2014 Mazda3 iSport, and I will write a review of my opinion of the car now that I’ve owned it for a year.
Bias = The only other car I have owned was a 1992 Honda Accord. My experience with other cars is limited, so my review will all be based on internet information, my brief experiences while car shopping, and my former ownership of a ‘92 Accord.
My first car accident was on January 7, 2015 in my Mazda3. The accident was partially due to the A-frame pillar blind spot. I will expand on this after the rest of the review.
+ Exterior styling = This car is sexy looking. It has a sleek, stylish look that sets it apart from many of its boring or just plain ugly competitors. It also has a longer-than-average nose/front that is actually visible while driving; many modern cars have fronts no longer visible to the driver.
+ MPG = I average about 32 MPG during my normal commute, which consists of roughly 60% city driving and 40% highway driving.
+ Safety Rating = The 2014 Mazda3 has top ratings in all crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
+ Driving Experience = The gas pedal is fairly responsive; not quite as responsive as a Honda, but is more responsive than, say, a Nissan. It has decent feedback and handling with some road noise, so there is a definite, solid feel of driving a car. It is a nice medium between the cheap cars and the more luxurious ones (like the creepily-smooth Accord).
+ Interior Materials = The majority of plastics are “soft-touch” plastics instead of the hard, scratchy/textured plastics found in some other cars. The door sill is soft-touch for when you rest your elbow own it, and the actual door handle/armrest is padded. This puts the Mazda above cars with cheaper feeling materials, like the lower trim Nissan Altimas and the old Honda Fits (2013 and older).
+ Simple Dashboard = With all the gadgets modern cars come with, their dashboards are often very cluttered and busy. The M3’s dashboard is simple and less distracting.
– Ugly Radio = People have said the radio looks like an add-on or afterthought. Instead of being set in the dashboard like most radios, it sticks out the top of it. The unusual design might make it hard to replace later if need be.
– Easily Marked Plastics = The downside to the interior plastics is that they seem to scratch/scuff easily, and that the imperfections are more visible than I’d like. I am not particularly abusive/tough on car interiors, so I have some concern about how the interior would look after five years or so years of use.
– Small Trunk = Compared to some of its competitors, the M3 is on the lower end when it comes to trunk space. The shape of the trunk opening can also prevent putting larger items in the trunk that would otherwise fit.
– Head Rests = The headrests are angled forward in an attempt to prevent whiplash. However, the angle is severe enough as to be very uncomfortable during regular driving. The headrests cannot be moved forward and back, only up and down.
– Level of Tech = Compared to its main competitors, the lower-trim M3’s are lacking in tech/features. For example, the Honda Civic has a backup camera standard on its lowest trim level, but the M3 does not include one until its 3rd trim level. Mazda’s blind spot monitoring system – a safety feature frequently raved about in car reviews – is also not available until the 3rd level trim.
– Blind Spots = The thick A-frame pillars create forward blind spots which are particularly noticeable when turning or pulling out into intersections. The blind spot is big enough to hide an entire car in intersections.
The Verdict = Knowing what I know now, would I still buy the Mazda3 if I went back in time? Maybe. It would depend on if I could find a comparatively-priced car with smaller forward-driving blind spots. I still think the Mazda3 is a good car, but I’m not sure it was the best choice for me.
What you see above is the result of my January 2015 accident, which occurred in part when I failed to see a car in my A-frame forward blind spot. The accident occurred at speeds of less than 15 mph, no airbags were deployed, and no injuries were sustained. However, the estimated damage to my car was a little over $7,200. I only had to pay $250 with insurance, but still, that’s a lot of damage for a little accident.
I appreciate the Mazda’s good safety/crash test ratings, but I’d rather avoid getting in an accident in the first place. To that end, I now feel less safe in my Mazda thanks to the A-frame blind spots. I have written a letter to Mazda await their response.
Update: Mazda sent me form letter saying they regretted to hear about my accident, and that “my concerns would be passed to their research team.” Nothing else was said or done. I traded in my Mazda3 for a 2015 Honda Fit; you can read my initial impressions here.