Although we have had this car 4 years it has only 40,000 miles on it. Primary use is to commute to/from work. It is nice looking, fun to drive and a competent vehicle on the road, at least on dry pave...
Although we have had this car 4 years it has only 40,000 miles on it. Primary use is to commute to/from work. It is nice looking, fun to drive and a competent vehicle on the road, at least on dry pavement. Like many other small sporty sedans the ride gets pretty harsh on bumpy roads. Winter driving is not great, but manageable. I find the interior to be roomy and comfortable. The trunk is huge for a car this size and the rear fold-down seats make it possible to haul odd-shaped cargo.
The price actually seemed low to me when compared with the competition, but they did cut some corners to get there. The exterior composite parts are a bit fragile. The gas mileage is a little disappointing for a 2 liter engine. Mid 20's around town. You can stretch this into the low 30's on the highway if you behave yourself.
Overall I felt this car was a great value until recently. The second week of January brought unusually heavy snows and sub-zero temperatures to our area. During that week the car remained parked in the driveway. We did not even attempt to start it.
After the temperatures returned to the 40s for a couple of days, I started the car and immediately the check engine and automatic transmission warning lights came on. The transmission was locked in some sort of fail-safe mode. It appeared to be stuck in a high gear and would not shift. The car would only move if the gas pedal was pressed all the way to the floor. On the road it took forever to get it up to 40 MPH and it would not go any faster.
The following day I decided to take it to the transmission shop. When I started the car, the AT light went off and the transmission started working again. The check engine light was still on however. The tech downloaded the error codes and found a "throttle position sensor error". Best guess is the weather caused an error in the TPS and the computer put the transmission in fail-safe mode as a precaution. What caused it to start working again is anybody's guess.
While it's true that it fixed itself in the end, our confidence was shaken. For two days we could not use the car. Will it happen again? It is a big concern that a car sold in northern climates could be disabled by a little cold weather, especially with only 40,000 miles on it. After a little research online I see that other Mazda 3 owners have reported similar experiences with cars that were just out of warranty.
I still like driving this car but I have learned a lesson from this. Not all Japanese cars are dependable. Caveat Emptor.