I've owned this Mazda 3 with the Grand Touring trim for nearly a year. I got it used as a higher mileage car (116k). I love it! Reasonably priced when compared to comparable used cars, and it's quite ...
I've owned this Mazda 3 with the Grand Touring trim for nearly a year. I got it used as a higher mileage car (116k). I love it! Reasonably priced when compared to comparable used cars, and it's quite a bit nicer than the last car I owned which I got for nearly the same price, an Audi A4. This several features usually relegated to luxury cars (and features unseen on my Audi) like automatic HID headlights, heated seats, leather seats with great bolstering, and a fantastic paint job (midnight purple). The steering is surprisingly responsive for a eight year old car, the throttle response is sharp enough that even I can heal-toe around corners which is always a blast! It's not particular powerful (not that I was expecting much from a 2.3l, 4 cyl, naturally aspirated engine) but is light enough that it is still a blast to drive fast! My only complaint about performance is related to the under-steer, which these cars are known to have. Since there's no turbo on the normal 3 they could have definitely pulled the engine closer to the center of the car, reducing the under-steer. But that's getting pretty darn picky! For what it is, I couldn't ask for anything more, except perhaps better reliability.
Now for the bad. I got this car with some of the maintenance records and it looks like the struts have been replaced several times already, and now they've gone out again. Not too major, especially since this is a repair I can do myself, but they should probably last longer than they have been. I think I'll be installing aftermarket parts in the hopes they are a bit more reliable. I do not drive this car too hard, or that often, so the fact that new shocks went out on me after only a year is disappointing. The electrical ballast for the HID (aka xenon) headlamps went out as well, which is annoying because the bulbs should have gone well before the ballast, as both were original. The dealer will charge you a lot, and the part is not easy to find on your own. Not to mention if you have the HID headlamps you'll have to remove the bumper just to change the bulb (on the passenger side anyway, it might not be the case for the driver side), so if you have a shop do the replacement you'll be spending extra because it takes a while to get it on and off.
Now for the truly ugly. The engine. IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT BUYING THIS CAR, HAVE A MAZDA DEALER CHECK FOR A ROD BEARING KNOCK. I think this is Mazda's best kept dark secret. I did lots of research on this before buying this car, and I didn't find any complaints about engine issues. A couple weeks ago I noticed some engine knocking even though this car has been taken care of very well. I took it in and found that one of the rod bearings is starting to fail. This means that you have to replace the engine, or completely disassemble and rebuild it. Once I found out what the problem is I started searching specifically for rod bearing knocks in Mazda 3's. I've found multiple reports of people experiencing the exact same maintenance issues I've had. Many even had it completely fail and ended up throwing parts though the block, damaging the car even more. Most of the reports I've found had this happen between 80k and 120k miles. Unless you want to replace an engine, please make sure your Mazda is not experiencing any engine knock from someone who knows what to listen for.