The community thinks...
Recommended but with caution. by Vic from Los Angeles, CA on 07/01/2012. Trim: 2009 Mazda Mazda3 s Touring 5-Door, Owned 2 years.
Pros: The handling is very good (front heavy like most FWD cars), and it is very roomy inside. I fit a LOT of stuff back there, that's why I got the hatchback. I have no complaints about the interior.
Cons: Manual transmission reportedly dates back to the Mazda 323/Protege and is outdated. 2nd or 3rd gear grind is very common on these cars. The synchros not being beefy enough. The gear spacing between 1st and 2nd gear is enormous. If you shift at 7,000rpm in 1st, it will fall to about 3,700rpm in 2nd. This large gear spacing means the synchronizers are working overtime to smooth the gap. To my knowledge Mazda does not have a recall or TSB for this problem. I took it to the dealer and of course their tech did not find the problem. It's a matter of safety. If I am joining the freeway where trucks are coming at 70 MPH, I need to pick up speed as fast as possible and have to shift at high revs.
Overall review: It is an econo car, as evidenced by the gear spacing. My only gripe so far is the manual transmission problems which Mazda has obviously not owned up to. I cautiously recommend it with the MT due to this problem since that's a very expensive fix. I don't know if I will get another Mazda in the near future. If I do, it will depend in reliability. The new SkyActiv technology seems promising, including the new auto transmission, but given Mazda's hit and miss reliability, it remains to be seen. That also goes for the high compression engines.
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