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2008.5 Mazda 3 Review: First Impressions

Sep 16, 2008
Our long term vehicle is a mid-year model Mazda 3 with mid-year added features like piano black trim, mp3 compatible cd changer, power driver's seat, lighted vanity mirrors and white gauge needles. It also has a new color for the Mazda3: Metropolitan Gray Mica. Mazda added a second new color for the mid year model with a beautiful white pearl option but we are MGM people.

There are other subtle differences but outside of the above mentioned items the 2008.5 Mazda 3 is pretty similar to the 2008 Mazda3.


2008.5 Metropolitan Gray Mica Mazda 3s GT
Transmission: Automatic
Options: Six disc CD Changer, Bose Sound System, Moonroof, Rear Wing Spoiler, Remote Start and Auto Dimming Mirror with Compass.

Only six miles on the odometer at pickup...

About the Driver

I'm coming from a 2005 Infiniti G35x loaded with every possible option so while I adjusted my expectations for the lower price point ($22K with s-plan) I was not prepared for the way the Mazda3 would blow me away.

I drive my cars assertively (sometimes assertively aggressive if there is such a thing) and will really put this car through the motions during ownership. Driving a car is an experience each time and I rely heavily on important driving/comfort aspects like handling, acceleration, ride, cabin noise, long term driving comfort and in car technology which will all shape upcoming updates.

Note: You might notice a pretty heavy comparison in my first impressions of the G35 to the Mazda 3 and that's mostly due in part to the fact that I almost purchased the Mazda3 in 2005 but was offered a very good lease deal on a 2005 G35x loaded for nearly the same that I would pay to own the Mazda3.

Seemed like a good idea at the time. Biggest regret of my life.

Now that you know me, let's talk about why you're here: first impressions!

First Impressions

There are a ton of really impressive features in this car! I struggled for a long time with not being technologically current in my 2005 Infiniti and the Mazda 3 is like an answer to my prayers. Here are some of my favorite features:

1) Remote Start - I can't believe how wicked cool remote start really is. Manufacturers are finally starting to offer remote start as an accessory that is installed at the port and I recommend it 200%. It's perfect for every possible hot/cold day when you don't feel like running out in the weather to start the car so it can warm up only to run back into the house and finish getting ready.

Remote start is something I could see myself not living without ever again and it wasn't an option on the Infiniti so +1 to Mazda for offering it. For the 2008.5 mid-year refresh, Mazda has integrated the remote start into the regular key fobs so now you won't have two sets of control keys to use on one set.

2) Rain Sensing Wipers - If you've never seen it, you wouldn't believe it. While driving home I didn't think the rain sensing wipers were working properly because the stalk appeared to be in the right position and it was raining pretty hard. I fiddled with the stalk for a little bit and discovered that it was in its "Off" position rather than "Auto". Once rotating the end piece into the right position it works quite well but I don't think putting "Off" and "Auto" within a knob's turn away was the best idea in the world.

3) The Manual Leveling HIDs - I don't know if it's manual really. It's kind of manual and automatic. You move the switch up or down until you reach the number you want (0 - 3) and the car adjusts the headlights to match that setting. The leveling headlights are not gimmicky at all and were pretty helpful while driving through fog and raising the headlights to watch for deer/pedestrians on the side of the road. Another brilliant feature the G35x was missing.

4) Aux Input - This is the golden feature for me! For the longest time (since 2005) I have always wanted a way to play my iPod in my car. I can't even begin to count the number of trips and meetings I've been late to while waiting for a cd to burn so I didn't have to listen to the same old crap in my car while driving there.

In fact, I wanted the aux input so bad that I refused the Mazda CX-7 when considering my next car purchase purely based on its lack of an aux input and it was worth it ten times over. I love being able to plug my iPhone into the stereo and just scroll through the playlists to find a list I'm feeling right now. It works seamlessly and I really couldn't be more ecstatic over this feature.

5) The Ride - Most people are going to give me a confused look but I'm telling you the 2008.5 Mazda3s GT has a nicer ride than my 2005 Infiniti G35x. Not only does it ride better but it's much quieter and it doesn't make the "Mothership" car sick when I drive with her in the car. Thumbs up all around!

So those are my top five favorite things about the car. Overall it's really just an experience that new car buyers have to try to believe because it's extremely uncommon at this price point. I'm finally excited to drive to different places just to be in the car and I love everything about it! If you don't own one, buy one. If you own one, buy a 2008.5 model! The new trim, power driver's seat, gauges and everything in between are worth it.
About the Author
Check out our Mazda 3 and Mazdaspeed 3 guides by visiting our website and Mazda 3 Forums.
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