In recognition of this month’s theme, I thought I would provide a short update on progress with my current car: it’s Japanese.
I have now completed over 12,500 miles in the 3. It had its first service just over a week ago, which set me back just a little under £200, most of which went on labour (the going hourly rate is high around here), oil and filters. The car had an engine software upgrade, which apparently was part of a recall that never found its way to my post-box. This was described as a “rough idle recall”, which was not a problem that I ever noticed. It does seem to have improved the fuel economy of the car (the last two tanks-full have averaged just over 60 MPG – up from about 57).
It’s amazing what the power of the media can do, because I could not prevent my mind from thinking “I wonder if it’s either Mazda’s equivalent of the VW diesel cheat device, or over-writing the cheat device that would have been installed in the first place?”. Surely a Japanese maker would have too much honour to stoop so low? Anyhow – the service was well executed, the car came back to me in a couple of hours washed and vac’d, and the people in the very local dealership could not have been more professional or more friendly.
The miles have not piled on quite as quickly as normal due to the continued presence of the C6 (perhaps the most decadent thing I have ever done is keeping that car) and, moreover, the 4 month lay-off the 3 had due to my ruptured Achilles. So, when I returned to it (slightly earlier than expected, due to C6 troubles), it was a bit like having a new car again, and it was a delight to be re-acquainted with its really well sorted driving experience. The gear change just gets better and is a pure joy, especially as its weighting is so in sync with that of the clutch, accelerator and steering. Given this is merely a mid-sized, hatch-based-saloon, it never ceases to
impress me that the engineers and developers of the 3 took so much care about such things. Together with a super-torquey, refined and responsive engine, it’s a very pleasurable driving experience. Autocar ran a comparison test recently with a Focus, Astra and Leon and probably should not have bothered including the 3 in the article, given how casually dismissive of it they were (an impression not helped by calling it a 2 a number of times across the pages); not that it annoyed me at all …. If Mazda could just improve the road noise, they could take this car up another level and remove the only driving-related caveat of the car that I have (i.e. not including the rear-seat ambiance).
The 3 has been 100% reliable – there is literally nothing to report in terms of anything going wrong or falling off – which is a nice change. I have noticed that the paint seems to chip and scratch a bit easily (the C6 is remarkably resilient on that front) and the body panels, which feel light – if the doors are anything to go by – ding and dent quite easily too. Oh, and I lightly curbed the front, near side alloy in Milton Keynes Central’s anti-car park – why do they put those ridiculously tall and narrow curbs at entrances, exits and the up/ down ramps?
As you can tell, I remain happy with the car (if not Meteor Parking). Long may it continue.