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2012 Mazda3 Review By Marty and Michael Bernstein +VIDEO

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2012 Mazda3


By Marty and Michael Bernstein
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

This is our first joint father and son automotive review with a shared byline. Michael, I must note is a bit over average height at 6”5” which obviously affects his comments about a vehicles spaciousness and especially leg room. So the first part of this review is from his lofty point of view.

He said: Where’s the room, room? I

was really looking forward to finally getting behind the wheel of the Mazda3 because I had been very impressed with the much larger Mazda 7 and even bigger 9 models reviewed last year. The one aspect of both those cars I really admired was how “small” the engineers made them feel behind the wheel. It was no different than driving a full size passenger car, despite the obvious size discrepancies.

The prospect of making a smaller car bigger but unfortunately the interior cabin and anticipated space I was hoping to find had got up and left. For tall prospective buyersT\ that’s too bad because otherwise the latest version of Mazda’s sport sedan has the performance, styling and interior amenities to meet the criteria buyers in this segment expect.

We said

The 2012 Mazda 3 has a case of the center console confusion. In their attempt to create the cockpit of a jet fighter, complete with all the gages and displays, the engineers/designers created a dashboard that connects seamlessly into the center console, which then continues to the rear of the car. This creates a wedge that divides the car in two. The convex door panels don’t help either and only pinch you in from the side. Unfortunately for anyone over 5’6” and/or over 175 lbs, the cabin reduces the occupants to Prince Albert in a can.

Moving on to the good and there is much to like about the 3, especially the 2.0L engine which puts out a spunky 155hp and yet earned an impressive 28 mpg city and a staggering 40 mpg highway fuel economy rating from the EPA. Paired with the 16-inch alloy wheels and the Electro-Hydraulic power assisted Rack and Pinion steering you’ve got the recipe for an exhilarating Sunday drive.

Utilizing the obligatory three-letter technologies that are installed to control the long list of features that manage the road and the 3’s response to its varied conditions, the Mazda 3 is engineered to pull your hair back or turn a hair pin turn into a bobby pin. It’s quick, responsive, fun to drive and very quiet even in windy conditions.

Music tames the mighty beast and thanks to the 265 watt Bose audio and despite the rather cramped cockpit and low roofline, there are many features that grace the interior that I liked and more under the hood, most notably the six speed automatic transmission that ensures smooth acceleration off the line and a quick burst of acceleration needed on the freeway. Even in windy conditions there was little road or wind noise

Both are nice accessories to have when you are behind the wheel, as are the numerous safety and security features that can be found in and around the Mazda 3 including the optional Blind Spot Monitoring System – we feel should be as mandatory as the new back-up camera regulation demands next year.

The best part of all this is the MSRP of $22,000, under $25 grand loaded. That’s a lot of car for the money and should have you zoom, zooming your way to your local Mazda dealer to experience it for yourself.

Watch TACH's exclusive Mazda 3 promo video