• Our Mazda Connect and Mazda 3 review


    The GT trim comes standard with Bose stereo system. There are 9 speakers in all: one in the center of the dash, one on each corner of the dash, a woofer in each door and 2 more ahead of the rear window.

    Bose is a polarizing company when it comes to audio. Some of their products are quite good while some, well the saying goes: ďno highs, no lows, must be BoseĒ.

    On the plus side, the Bose system in the 3 is quite powerful/loud. On the downside, it doesnít have the greatest sound quality. It sounds clumsy and isnít very clear. It can be punchy in the lower-midrange but there isnít a lot of low-end bass. Overall, while itís better than some stock stereoís, in absolute terms, itís not that great. I will say, though, that itís good enough that you do get used to it after a while.

    If Mazda charged extra just to get this stereo, Iíd say skip it but since itís standard on the GT trim Iíll give it a pass, albeit barely.

    The rest of the tech:

    When it comes to powering your gadgets, thereís a 12V outlet in the arm rest along with a SD card slot (reserved for the Nav I think), a line-in and a pair of USB ports. If youíre wondering how fast the USB ports are, I plugged my Nexus 5 with a dead battery for an hour and it managed to get it up to 61% which means it can charge at around 1.4 amps. 1.4amps isnít bad but what I found was that it wasnít enough to charge my iPhone when I had the screen on and WiFi hotspot and Bluetooth running. I basically had a net charge rate of zero. Turning the screen off does allow it to charge, albeit slowly. I didnít get hard numbers to back this up but adding a second device appears to drops the charge rate further.

    Thereís a rubberized flat surface right under radio/climate controls. Iím a little disappointed that there isnít a second 12V outlet or USB ports there too since thatís probably where most people will be putting their phones. I just ended up running a cable from the USB port in the armrest to this area. The space actually extends under the radio, though there isnít much clearance there.

    Thereís a tray in the armrest to put your phone but itís not very big so anything bigger than an iPhone is going to be a challenge let alone trying to charge it while it's there.

    If you move the tray out of the way, you can fit a small tablet in the armrest if you put it at an angle.

    Aside from the 12V outlet in the armrest, I donít think there are any other ones located in the 3.

    If you get the Tech package, it comes with Mazdaís i-ELOOP energy recovery system. Basically, when you coast or brake, you turn an alternator which stores energy inside a capacitor. The capacitor is able to power the 3ís electronic systems for up to a minute or 2 after which it switches to the battery.

    I have mixed feels about i-ELOOP. One on hand, it doesnít even help propel the 3 forward, on the other hand, since all it does is power the 3ís electrical systems, thereís very little weight penalty so you donít have to sacrifice driving dynamics for a few tenths of a MPG.

    Keen drivers will like the heads up display. When you first start the car, a little display on top of the dash pops up. The display is actually just a clear piece of plastic which shows a reflection of a screen located above the cluster cowl.

    I noticed 3 things about the HUD, first off, if only has a viewing angle of about 10 degrees in each direction so only the driver can see it. If you point out to your passenger, theyíll have no idea what youíre talking about.

    Secondly, the HUD is awesome because now you can see how fast youíre going while youíre cornering.

    Thirdly, sometimes I see double when I glance at it because when Iím driving, my eyes are usually focused a few 100 meters in front of me so my eyes donít have time to readjust to the distance. This isnít really the HUDís fault but itís something worth mentioning.

    If you donít like the HUD, the speed is also displayed in the bottom right corner of the tach but you can never disable the HUD so that it doesnít pop up - all you can do is turn off the display until you restart the car.

    Hereís something funny, thereís a digital speedometer in the bottom right corner of the Tach. I suspect the 3 was set up so that only the driver knows how fast the 3 is going. When I use the 3, my wife hasnít complained about my speed once.

    The rear-view mirror is auto dimming but the side view mirrors arenít. Itís also where the 3 home link (garage door openers) buttons are.

    Safety nannies are all the rage right now - aside from the usual stuff like traction control, ABS and airbags, the 3 has collision mitigation which can stop the car before you crash.

    They call it Smart City Braking and it works at speeds of 4-30km/h and will put the car to a complete stop if youíre about to run into something. Itís so you donít rear-end other car. I did test it out on a different Mazda a while back and it works provided you didnít turn it off like here. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBy78UJ081w)

    You also get lane departure warning which will shake the steering wheel or sound a beep if you leave your lane. Iíll be honest but I couldnít figure out how to get this feature working.

    My favorite feature is the blind spot monitoring which lights up an icon on the side-view mirror if thereís something there plus beeps if you start signalling. Itís a very useful feature at night.

    These safety nannies are great but I wonder if theyíll make some drivers more confident of their ability to use their phone while they drive. Are the blind spot monitoring, smart city brake and lane departure warning a tech package or a text package?

    The car has both Bluetooth and WiFi. The Bluetooth is to connect your phone to the car while the WiFi is for your car to connect to your phoneís WiFi hotspot.

    Iíll be honest, Iím not 100% sure what the built-in WiFi does. I think itís to download traffic information but I get the feeling that the 3 can also pull traffic info from the built-in XM radio.

    Anyways, I found the WiFi to be extremely picky. I couldnít get it to connect to my house WiFi (which should reach outside the house) or any of my Android phoneís wireless hotspots. I does connect to my iPhoneís hotspot but only sporadically.

    In front are headlights with LED daytime running lights, Xenons for night time and high beams and halogen fog lamps. If you get the Tech package, youíll absolutely adore the headlights because theyíre adaptive and swing in the direction youíre turning in.

    Everything else:

    The cabin is nicely appointed for a $30,000 sedan. The perforated leather seats are a nice balance between being supportive (sporty) while still being comfortable. Did I mention theyíre heated? They front driver side seat has 3 way power adjustments but thereís no memory.

    If youíre allergic to hard plastics, there are some inside but aside from some buttons, most are in spots you wonít touch too often. The luxury package brings a slick leather-like dash thatís soft to the touch. Itís quite nice.

    The steering wheel looks great. Itís wrapped in leather and has nice ergonomics. Itís flanked by paddle shifters on each side.

    The HVAC controls are excellent. Theyíre really intuitive to use and are completely controlled by the HVAC buttons. Thereís dual-zone support so the driver and passenger each get their own setting. I think the AC condenser is electric instead of being pulled by the engine so when you get in, the 3 can get hot or cold very quickly.

    If you shop for a car based on how many cup holders it has, there 2 in the center console, one on each door that doesnít fit tall containers and 2 more in the rear center armrest.

    Rear seats are nice.

    As far as interior space goes, while Iím short guy, I think most people will find space at the back adequate. I was able to fit 3 adult (one a little shorter) in the car along with 2 baby seats. It was a tight fit but it was do-able.

    The brake and gas are pretty close which is good if you need to work both pedals at once. At the same time, theyíre not so close that people who have no idea what Iím talking about will complain about them being too close together.

    One minor problem I noticed and it just might be me, is that the dead pedal to the left of the actual pedals is has a much steeper angle than Iím used to. I found it uncomfortable to rest my foot on it.

    The trunk is relatively deep and the rear seats fold down but the trunk opening is kind of narrow and the trunk itself is pretty low.

    You get a smart key which allows you to open and close the doors and trunk by pressing a button on the handle without having to take your keys out or having to press a button on the fob. You can also use the push button start as long as the keys are in your pocket. When you leave the 3, it automatically locks itself.

    If you do want to use the fob, I noticed that the buttons on are all flat so itís hard to use them without taking them out of your pocket and looking at them.

    Customization geeks will love all the options you can customize. You can control how loud the car beeps at you when thereís something in your blind spot, what happens when you leave the car (automatically lock or not), you can make the screen bright, adjust the contrast, adjust the location and brightness of the HUD, etc.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Our Mazda Connect and Mazda 3 review started by howard View original post
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. Treatz's Avatar
      Treatz -
      Let me know when you need the 2015 Mustang GT reviewed
    1. HC - NO "i"'s Avatar
      HC - NO "i" -

      That reminds me of a conversation with Martin Cooper a while back about his invention and the Mazda 3 (2014)...


      Anyway, as a passenger in the rear, the fold-down centre console is quite roomy for gadgets too...

      I would also consider the upcoming 2015 VW Jetta as a competitor as well... http://contents.vw.ca/models/2015-jetta/en/
    1. TelecomZombie's Avatar
      TelecomZombie -
      For Quality of Cell Service Industry Canada recommends driving a Convertible with the Top Down in The Sun!
      Maximum full use of your Expensive Hardware.and abilty to impress others with wrist worn EwearZ atire is accesible upon Buses and Trains 24/7
      Free Unlimited WiFi at Tims and Select Subway Stations so save commuting headaches and parking hijacking by Logging On and Nodding Off.

      Edit: HC no I apologies I forgot to mention at the HoFo meet last weekend was that a Nokia 6340 in your pocket or were you just happy to see moi?
    1. GVRD777's Avatar
      GVRD777 -
      The Mazda Infotainment system as they call it has been ridiculously buggy since day 1 last year. There are GPS mapping issues, connectivity issues with devices, especially with the iPhone including downloading your SMS into your car. USB tagging issues, and random boots just to name a few. I feel bad for all those folks who spent a lot of money on the tech package. In Canada, you have to have the leather package to get the tech package, which is baffling yet the two are shown separately including the price.

      Incidentally, I read somewhere that Mazda is using old (entertainment) tech going back to 2006 and beyond in their 2014 models. Soon the 2015s will be out, who knows if the current issues will be present in the new models.
    1. Im2bz2p345's Avatar
      Im2bz2p345 -
      Dang, that's one detailed review. I read about this car on other car specific site/forums, but thanks for sharing, lol.

      Not a fan of that 7" display (looks like an external Garmin or something) or the control knob, but I like reading about all the "new" technology in the car. I guess if it's buggy like GVRD777 mentioned above me, then there is no point in trying to incorporate even more of crap that doesn't work right to begin with.

      ~ Im2bz2p345
    1. GVRD777's Avatar
      GVRD777 -
      Just a side note. In the USA, Mazda has a firmware update for the Infotainment system. Right now, it's version 31; however, it's really bad and causing a lot if issues including worsening of previous issues that it was suppose to fix. Some dealers are refusing to update to latest update because of the above.

      In Canada, V30 is the latest. One of two things can be inferred: either Mazda Canada is slow in their updates or they know the update is flaky and won't push it.

      Either way, the infotainment issues aren't going away anytime soon.
    1. advicepyro's Avatar
      advicepyro -
      Just a comment about the bugginess of Infotainment - I have a 2014 GS - I play music on my iPhone via USB and sometimes when I pair it with a GPS app, after a couple of voice prompts from the GPS the music cuts out with a loud static pop and refuses to come back on until you flip the audio source to something else and back.

      I just opted to use Bluetooth even though there is some audible choppiness in the first few seconds of a song. But it works fine when paired with a GPS app, so eh.

      And something like $700 for the Navigation package - I'll stick with more accurate apps on my phone, thanks Without the package the Nav button just brings up a compass.
    1. zcutlip's Avatar
      zcutlip -
      Thanks for such a great review, especially your detailed coverage of the infotainment system.

      Something I've been trying to find out about the Mazda 3 is how nicely it plays with multiple bluetooth devices. For example, if both my wife and I drive the car, will it remember pairings with both of our phones? Also, if we both are in the car at the same time, how easy is it to switch from my phone to hers and back?

      Our current car will remember pairings with two devices, but to switch devices requires about 8 button presses, and then about 5 or 6 more button presses to get back out to the main menu where the volume control will work again.

      Another car we test drove would only remember a pairing with a single device. Pairing a second device meant replacing the first.

      Do you or any other forum members have any experience with multiple bluetooth devices and the Mazda Connect infotainment system?

      Thanks again!
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