2006 Mazda 3 S Touring 2.3 from North America
Good value, but rough around the edges
Nothing Major, but many small, annoying things that are hard to pinpoint. All of them just add up to mar the overall appeal of the car. I should mention that all these have been present since new, and aren't a result of abuse or wear.
- Vibrations at ~50mph+ despite having had the wheels balanced.
- Dash creaks when I go around a sharp corner
- Drivers door mirror 'jiggles' so image isn't clear
- clunking sound from the rear under hard braking from low speed
- clunking sound from the front sometimes when shifting.
This car does have very sharp handling, the steering response is incredibly precise, the suspension isn't bad though a little soft, and the brakes are very good.
The engine isn't particularly impressive, and the odd gear ratios cause the car to never feel like it's happy to be driven with enthusiasm. Second gear, for example, is tall and the car feels disappointingly gutless until around 3500rpm, but shortly after that, you feel like you should shift because the engine doesn't sound or feel smooth at higher revs.
I certainly had expected this car to feel quicker considering it's a small sedan with a 2.3 liter engine. I can honestly say it feels very similar in terms of power to some 1.6 liter cars I've driven, with ~30-40 less horsepower. That brings me to another point, 160 horsepower from a 2.3 liter engine isn't particularly impressive, compared to what other Japanese automakers are achieving. The MPG is quite poor too, I've averaged 22mpg combined since getting the car. If it had better performance, this wouldn't be an issue, but since it feels slow and uses a lot of gas (comparatively), it's again disappointing.
The car's exterior looks pretty sharp, the 2006 model's factory alloy wheels are among the nicest looking factory alloys I've seen on any car, and the factory side sills complete the look nicely.
One low point about the exterior is the paint, it's very prone to scratching and chipping, although the same can be said about many new cars which now have to use the new paints for environmental reasons.
The interior is surprisingly good at first glance for a car in this price range, the seats are manually adjustable and comfortable, and most of the controls are well laid out. There's masses of headroom, I expect almost any height driver could get comfortable in this car.
I have only two complaints about the interior, firstly the textured plastic used for much of it can be easily, and permanently scratched with a fingernail, quickly marring it's appearance. Second, the backlit gauges are very hard to read while wearing sunglasses, and the LCD information panel is impossible to read with them on.
The ride isn't particularly great, it's noisy on all, but the smoothest of road surfaces, and the car is affected quite badly by crosswinds. It's comfortable enough however, and I think it could take longer journeys in stride quite happily.
Overall I'm sad to say that I've grown disappointed with this car, it's simply not as good as I'd hoped in the areas which are important to me, while surpassing my needs in areas I don't care so much about. If performance isn't among your top priorities, and a rattle, squeak, or vibration here and there aren't things that will bug you, I'd highly recommend this car. If you're seeking near perfection in terms of build quality (as some might say is justified with a brand new car), I don't feel this car quite has it.
I wasn't expecting outstanding quality, but for a new car it had more minor issues than I would have hoped.
It really all depends on your needs, and your standards/expectations.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 27th March, 2007
29th Mar 2007, 15:14
Your comments about the rattles and noises are very interesting. I've had a 2003 Civic LX sedan for four years now since new. It has also been a bit of let down when it came to rattles and squeaks. The Civic had two in particular that were most annoying. One was from the driver's side seat belt area and other from the centre stack area. As expected, smooth pavement does not produce these sounds, but, even the most minor imperfection in the road surface is bound to create some response in the cabin.
My point is that either consumers are being led by the manufacturers to expect more than they should through lofty advertising promises of "tighter construction, quieter ride" etc. or we are indeed witnessing a decline in the general build quality of these cars. I am only referring to the cabin build quality, not to the vehicles' internal mechanical components.
14th Nov 2007, 14:32
I'm about to tick over 40,000 miles on my '06 3GT and it has yet to disappoint me. I only have one minor rattle in the sunroof shade and it only happens when I hit a bump. Other than that, it's been a great car. I disagree about the gear ratios, too. It seems well geared to me except that 5th is too low. The variable valve timing kicks in around 3500 RPM so maybe that is what you are feeling. The performance seems about right for a 4 cylinder car and is definitely better than other 4 cyl. cars I've owned.
Definitely agree about the interior plastic. The texture will actually rub your skin off and make white streaks. The paint is very soft as well.
Also, the stock Goodyear Eagle RSA's only lasted 35,000 miles, got very noisy and vibrated at the end of their lifespan.
19th May 2008, 14:22
I have an 06 GS sport. The only issue I have with the car is tire wear. The wear on the front is pretty even, but on the back the inner edges are wearing wearing out. The back tires on a front wheel drive car should last forever. When following other Mazda 3's, I notice they have a lot of negative camber on the rear?
The car has done 60,000klms. I get around 39mpg on my daily commute, which is mostly highway. Fun to drive, great handling, and enough power for me.
18th Sep 2008, 14:07
Yes, the 3S has negative camber on the rear wheels. I have had 2 sets of tires wear out on the inner tread. They get very loud to boot. My fault for not rotating them enough.
My next set will be rotated religiously every 7,500 miles.