The Future Is Now

For the last week, I’ve been rolling out in a 2013 Mazda3 hatch, while my regular ride (’11 Mazda6) gets some body work sorted out at the dealer.  I test drove a Mazda3 before I got my Mazda6 and found it pretty plain, boring and slow.

But, the Mazda3 I’ve got as a loaner is far nicer.   I suspect that the difference is all in the trim.  I think I drove the low spec version for the test drive.  The loaner is a high spec, maybe top of the line.  Creature comfort-wise, its got heated leather seats, and sunroof.  But what really sets it apart is the high technology.  I normally, wouldn’t pay for the super high end toys, but after this extended test drive I think I might.

Here’s my favorite toys:

  • Blue tooth integration.  In my Mazda, I use a plain ole headphone cable to pipe music from my phone into the line-in jack on the radio.  In the loaner, I just pair my phone with the radio via blue tooth.  It was pretty easy to figure out without consulting any manual.  It works great and just does the right thing, like automatically pairing and starting play where you left off when you return to the car.  I think you can also pair multiple devices (some previous loanees info was still on file.) Mental note, remember to blow away that profile before I give the car back.
  • Keyless Ignition. Seems kinda pointless at first, but grows on you.  Its really nice to keep your keys in your pocket.  You don’t need to use the fob to unlock the doors most of the time.  The car knows when you’re in proximity and will unlock the doors when you press a button on the door handle (which is pretty natural when you’re opening the door.)
  • Xenon headlights.  With my crummy eyesight these days, I hate super bright xenon lights on oncoming cars.  But, behind the wheel, they do improve visibility dramatically.  Its a subtle, but the headlights change angle slightly when you make sharp turns to give you a better heads up.
  • Blindspot Monitor.  At highway speeds, there’s a little light on the edges of the outside review mirrors that turns on when someone is precisely in your blindspot.  If your turn signal is on (like you’re changing lanes) it also makes a beep.  Again, seems kinda overkill, until you live with it for a bit.  Nice to have the extra help.

There were a small things that I found a little troublesome:

  • Back seat space is super tight.  Loading up the varmints in car seats is tough.  Both were easily able to kick the back of the seats in front of them.
  • Hatch space is pretty limited.  We’re past the stroller stage for now, but I don’t think our full size infant stroller would fit.   Barely swallows a weeks worth of groceries for the family.
  • Info overload.  From the drivers seat, you’ve 3 different large and bright screens: fuel economy stats, climate control, and entertainment.  I like tech, but this  feels too distracting for me.

The first two detractors probably put a damper on considering a Mazda3 for my next wheels after the Mazda6 lease is up.  But, I’m really enjoying while I’ve got it.





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