Author Topic: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed  (Read 4328 times)

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Offline red_imps_2003

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Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« on: January 04, 2017, 03:05:35 PM »
Hi, all. Just to introduce myself. I've recently taken ownership of a Mazda 3 1.6d TS2 (registered 2009) and used it to get to/from work for just over a week plus a couple of longer journeys over the Christmas holiday. It may be over seven years old but has been well looked after and is in very good condition. I must say I like it very much so far; it's the nicest car I have ever owned (Fiesta 1.3 LX --> Fabia 1.9 TDi 'Comfort' trim --> Focus 1.8 TDCi LX --> this Mazda). The Fiesta was very basic and somewhat under-powered, but got me a couple of years' no claims and past that expensive under-25 age group. The Fabia was lovely and just about the right amount of power for me alongside decent fuel economy, but lacked much in the way of driver aids (and even then, the heated wing mirrors never worked) . This was [somewhat reluctantly] traded for a Focus (mark 2) when my first son was born and it (the car) has been a bit of a disappointment. I deliberately chose to sacrifice 'gadgets' and driver conveniences for lower mileage and, along with a few minor but persistent niggles, it has never been particularly enjoyable to drive. I've only been using the Mazda for 2.5 weeks so far and am still getting used to it but have found little to dislike.

Almost everything feels like an improvement over the Focus, even though I believe they are based on a very similar chassis. To be fair, I think a lot is to do with the refinements. This time I have been able to get a higher-spec model than I did with the Ford and things feel far more luxurious. Everything feels more 'comfortable' and driving is now more enjoyable than it has been for the past seven years. Cruise control, climate control, leather steering wheel and gear knob, electric windows all round (including one-touch closing, the lack of which irritated me massively about the Focus) and just the general styling of the dashboard are all huge improvements over what I have been used to and genuinely improve the driving experience. The biggest shout-outs, though, go to the quick-clear windscreen and to the heated front seats. The former is an absolute god-send and I don't know if I could go back to life without it now; what a time-saver! I have always been somewhat sceptical about the value of heated seats (having never actually experienced them), thinking surely a vehicle - even a diesel - heats up before they do, but boy was I wrong!? Although cabin temperature seems to increase far more rapidly in the Mazda than my Focus (which must have taken a good ten to twelve minutes in below-zero conditions) the seats are actually appreciably warm inside one and right up to temperature (far warmer than I ever envisaged) in two. This makes leaving for work on a cold morning so much more bearable. It has taken a while to get accustomed to having the storage box right where I used to place my arm to reach for the handbrake and I find it a little fiddly plugging my seat belt in with it in the way somewhat, but it is actually a very useful and welcome addition. Little touches like the covers for the cup-holder, ash tray and ciggy lighter all seem significantly more 'classy' than the rather...austere Focus LX (although I'm sure the better-specced equivalents would have been less dull). The black seat covers look much nicer than the light ones on my Focus and the seatbelt drawing/retraction is far easier and smoother. The noise inside the cabin (which I know from lurking on this forum in recent weeks can be a source of dissatisfaction with some models of the Mazda 3) is far less intrusive than that of my 2006-vintage Focus and, again, makes the driving experience feel significantly more refined.

I only have one issue so far and it is one I anticipated, given the specs on paper. Part of it may just be a matter of getting used to the change but it does, just occasionally, feel as though it lacks a little bit of punch. I notice it more at higher speeds than urban driving - getting from 50 to 70 on a motorway mainly, but sometimes it also feels as though it takes a while to make progress on switching from 2nd to 3rd gear. It's possible I just have to get used to going longer in 2nd and 4th in the above scenarios, and I suspect I just have to adjust my driving style a little. The drop in 'grunt' is actually far less than I anticipated and 3rd gear in particular does pull well once it gets going.

I am, therefore, contemplating getting an ECU remap (which I have never done before) once I have ascertained how much it would affect the insurance premiums. I am prepared to pay a bit more in that respect for the benefit of appreciably more responsive acceleration but it doesn't bother me enough to warrant more than an additional 25 - 30% increase in annual insurance costs. I've never been a boy racer and am risk-aware enough not to put anybody's life or well-being in danger. Plus I'm a tight-wad! I even think it may be more psychological than anything else; the comparatively plush and refined interior just feels as though it should pull a little more responsively than the clattering, rattly Focus it replaced. I’ll give it a couple more months, when the insurance is due for renewal, before making a decision. If anybody here has remapped a 1.6d I would appreciate your observations and feedback very much, although it strikes me that it is perhaps more the larger capacity engines that get tuned in this way.

Oh, and the 'official' 65mpg economy stat is pure bull poo poo, which I knew already from the Honest John Real MPG page. Perhaps if a jocky or 7 stone person drove one along a warm, dry and flat 65-mile strip at 45mph in 5th gear with no luggage and no screenwash, no headwind, the spare wheel removed and only that one gallon of fuel in the tank it may come close. But in real-world conditions? No way Pedro (sic)! My first brim-to-brim test from mainly fairly sedate motorway driving came in at 49mpg (the TRIP computer reported 54), which is broadly similar to the above focus it replaced.

Anyhow, I’m sorry this has turned into a somewhat lengthy ramble, probably of little interest to anybody who is not currently thinking of switching from a vanilla Focus to a 2nd hand but reasonably-trimmed Mazda 3 diesel . Thank you for bearing with me, those of you that are still here

Incidentally, I am based in the North East (as are several on here, I believe). I gather there are a couple of dealers in the area but my closest is the one near the Metrocentre. I’ve seen mixed opinions of them expressed on this forum. I am still undecided whether to continue the full dealer history or stick with my trusted local mechanic (friend of the family) for the annual service. I reckon I have about four years of use left in this car before corrosion begins to take its toll and that the DPF is likely to need replacing, at some expense, before too long (it currently has 52k on the clock and the dealer apparently didn’t think it was ready for replacement at the recent service). There won’t be much re-sale value left when I come to sell it so is there much benefit to paying the premium for a dealer service?

Anyway, it's been a joy reading all the contributions to this forum while I have been awaiting admin approval to allow me to post. I'm sure I will be seeking the benefit of your collective experience in the years ahead; especially if I stick witht he Mazda brand for my next vehicle.

All the best,

Me.
So I was stood there trying to work out why the cricket ball was getting larger and larger...and then it hit me.

Offline Willpower

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2017, 03:19:57 PM »
Welcome to the Forum (even if you have been lurking) :) .  And thank you for your very interesting post regarding your introduction to the Mazda family.  If you've been around for a while then i'm sure there is little point in directing you to the dedicated Diesel/DPF section. But there is an absolute wealth of information available in there for new Diesel owners.

Looking forward to hearing more from you. :)
 
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Offline StevenRB45

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2017, 06:38:19 PM »
You must be reasonably local to me if Hodgson's is your local dealer. Given the age of the car if you continue with it will always be a value judgement. I have a 2011 petrol I don't begrudge paying the main agent prices as they are competitive with other Mazda prices I've seen on here and I've never had any bother with them. Seem to know their stuff and as my car has been reliable I only visit them once a year. Happy to give a courtesy car bloke on the desk is polite enough e.t.c.

If it was costing money between services and I was paying main agent parts prices for broken stuff (nothing has broken in 2.5 years so far touch wood) I'd probably reconsider but until then I don't mind paying a few hundred quid once a year for the service but getting things like brakes and tyres replaced elsewhere.

Gotta say my dad has a mk2 focus 1.6 petrol...it amazing how little 2 apparently the same cars share.

I wouldn't get annoyed with the fuel economy just yet it's been cold recently, my petrol is down in the 36-37s when I normally expect 40s.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2017, 06:40:46 PM by StevenRB45 »

Offline red_imps_2003

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2017, 10:08:02 AM »
Aye; I'm Blaydon way so Hodgson's is just around the corner. It will be August/September time before its next service, so I have a while to decide.

I wouldn't say I'm disappointed with the MPG as such. As I say, I knew the more realistic figure to expect form the Honest John site. Their stats for the Focus 1.8 TDCi were certainly more in-line with my own experience than the 'official' figure. I do vaguely recall from my days of driving the Fabia between Blaydon and Lincoln every weekend for a year that the MPG (reported by the TRIP computer) was higher in the summer months than the winter ones, so it will be interesting to see how things go over the next twelve months in that respect. I wonder how these stated figures are arrived at, though, when many are not even close.

One other thing I forgot to mention in my summary of driver conveniences that I like is the auto-dimming rear view mirror. I had no idea these even exist but find it works really well.
So I was stood there trying to work out why the cricket ball was getting larger and larger...and then it hit me.

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2017, 02:38:04 PM »
Very local to me then given I'm at High Spen..

Shall make a mental note not to carve up any other 3s lest a get a telling off over the internet. ;)

Offline yarb

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2017, 03:38:39 PM »
you will probably the Focus didn't have a DPF which you now have and will not the MPG down a little bit
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Offline red_imps_2003

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2017, 05:47:00 PM »
Hmm, re-filled for a second time at the weekend and this time it averaged 54mpg, which may have been achieved under more comparable conditions against the Focus. I really can't recall now, but I have a feeling a good portion of the previous test (48mpg) was done with a car full of family and luggage. The majority of this most recent period was more like normal conditions (i.e. mainly commuting to/from work). I'll keep monitoring it over the next couple of months, just out of idle curiosity.
So I was stood there trying to work out why the cricket ball was getting larger and larger...and then it hit me.

Offline red_imps_2003

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2017, 01:55:12 PM »
Very local to me then given I'm at High Spen..

Shall make a mental note not to carve up any other 3s lest a get a telling off over the internet. ;)
And a surreptitious raised mid digit from behind the dashboard... and how good is your lip reading!?

;-)
So I was stood there trying to work out why the cricket ball was getting larger and larger...and then it hit me.

Offline red_imps_2003

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2017, 12:40:39 PM »
Just to follow up, I had an ECU remap yesterday and so far I am happy with the improvement it has made. It is just a generic map bought from Quantum Tuning, so was not customised to my own car with rolling road and so forth, but has made an appreciable difference. It cost £249 and, as it is a fairly conservative map, no further modifications were necessary. For that fee they basically offer an economy map, a power map or a blend of the two. Erring on the side of caution, I went with the blend. This gets installed at one of their 1,000+ 'dealers' or installation centres, some of which are mobile. Mine took about 90mins and the guy checked the car over to ensure there were no obvious weaknesses or obstructions (especially the DPF, as the car has 54k on the clock) before installing the new map.

Now when I left the garage, tootled out of the industrial estate and joined the dual carriageway I must admit to feeling a little underwhelmed. Testimonies on Trustpilot speak glowingly of 'transforming' the engine characteristics and noticing the difference immediately on setting off. I can't say, in those first couple of minutes, that it felt all that different to me. I still had to take 2nd gear higher than I was accustomed to in the Focus in order for 3rd to pick up where 2nd left off (if that makes sense) and trying to get to 70 up the sliproad (steep hill) wasn't as easy as I had hoped.

However, having subscequently covered fifty odd miles on more familiar roads it really does feel different from before (and I am hoping that isn't just a placebo effect, knowing I have forked out £249 for some appreciable gains). The car feels lighter and more responsive than it used to. I particularly notice it on the faster roads where it shifts from 50mph to 70mph with greater ease than before. I can't say whether the 0-60 time has improved as I was never really one for flooring it anyway, but it does feel as though it gets up the steep incline in my village with less effort than before. I'll report back on that when I more experience of driving with the new map (most of my miles so far have been on motorway and dual carriageway)

The computer is reporting an increase in fuel economy but, of course, it remains to be seen whether this is (a) sustained over a longer period (he re-set the average mpg check so the reading is more susceptible to short-term fluctuations at the moment) and (b) reflected in the brim-to-bring checks. I will be filling the tank over the weekend and typically go just under a fortnight before doing so again, so will feed back in a couple of weeks. After 50 or so miles the display is sitting at 57mpg where 51-52 was the norm before (with brim-to-brim typically coming in at around 50).

In terms of insurance my renewal (before modification) came in at £404 and on price comparison sites the cheapest I would have any confidence with (so, not Go Skippy) was around £450. After phoning Adrian Flux, Chris Knott, Brentacre and Greenlight (quotes from £399 - £470) I went with Sky Insurance for £370. So, cheaper than my renewal premium but about £20 more than I could have got without the remap.

I suspect a custom remap could have smoothed the transition from 2nd to 3rd more to my liking and a more transformative effect on overall power could be achieved but for a one-off £249 I am beginning to feel more confident that the gains have been worth it and I am also mindful not to wear parts out too early due to over-stressing them. I am still more about 'responsible' driving and overall economy than putting my foot to the floor and 'competing' with other drivers around me so this generic map, for me, seems worth it. As I say, I will try to update when I have a few more miles under my belt and would be happy to answer any questions if anybody has them.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2017, 12:44:46 PM by red_imps_2003 »
So I was stood there trying to work out why the cricket ball was getting larger and larger...and then it hit me.

Offline Willpower

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2017, 01:51:03 PM »
Thank you for a very well composed and interesting report.

Despite the fact that none of it applies to me, as I run a petrol model, I'm sure that plenty of the oil burners on the site will find it very worthwhile hearing of your experiences.

:)
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Offline red_imps_2003

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2017, 02:22:42 PM »
Just following up, in case anybody is interested, as I have had the modification for a fortnight now and filled up yesterday for the first time after it was done. Since the remap the car has averaged 53.3mpg. My past five brim-to-brim readings have consistently been between 48.7mpg and 50.4mpg so this looks positive for the time being. I do have two records from before those five readings, the first being 48.2mpg and the second being 54mpg. However, I can't work out how I arrived at these figures as I changed my method of recording it (started using the Fuelio app) after them and I am struggling to reconcile the dates and numbers from the two records. I may have achieved 54mpg before, but this could be an error given the consistency of the readings before and after.

Although the mpg appears to have increased a bit, obviously things could change over the longer term. The weather has been a bit milder over the past fortnight than when most of the earlier readings were achieved, for example. Also I have very consciously been experimenting with my driving style as I have been getting accustomed to the new map. It's been a mixture of 'seeing what it can do' and actively trying to conserve fuel. God only knows what may have been going on sub-consciously as well.

Which brings me on nicely to a possible negative, although it seems likely it is not connected directly to the modification. It is hard to articulate, but I'll give it a go. Since about 24 hours after having the remap, and actually almost immediately after submitting my report above, I suddenly became conscious of how 'bumpy' the car feels on the road. I was just heading home from work along the A1 and just became 'aware' of the car's frequent movement up and down and for a while my heart sank, as it seems easy to tie this in with the modification. Ever since then I have been conscious of it all the time. Now, I'm not talking about potholes and the kind of lumps in the road surface that transmit through to the cabin with an audible thump and a definite physical jolt. This is more like subtle (but at the same time acutely perceptible) 'undulations' which happen almost all the time. I can feel my body drop a little bit or rise a little bit without any accompanying sensory cues (sounds , vibration, obvious dips in the road surface). It feels quite definitely vertical movement rather than, God forbid, lateral or the kind of the forward/backwards motion associated with hesitation or inconsistent delivery of power. The engine note remains consistent and there are no unusual sounds, warning lights, or other indications that anything is wrong. I have been experimenting since then but have been struggling to pin it down. Encouragingly, I am fairly certain this movement still exists when coasting (whether just taking the foot off the gas downhill or even with the clutch depressed or gear stick on neutral), which seems to suggest it isn't movement from, or tied directly to, the engine. It idles smoothly and if it were only caused when the engine is under load I surely wouldn't notice it when coasting. Besides, I feel it regardless of speed unless I am crawling along at literally walking speed.

Two things occur to me. It may be that this is perfectly normal and it behaved like this before the remap. I had only had it just under 3 months so had not developed years of familiarity with its foibles. It is possible that, having read plenty of negative reports of remaps over the years along with the positive ones, that I was looking for potential adverse effects (either consciously or otherwise) and this is what suddenly made me aware of the car's behaviour. I also know that it feels very low to the ground compared to the Focus it replaced, so perhaps the suspension behaves differently to what I had been used to for the previous seven years. Typically, my wife's car was written off in a [low speed impact] accident four days after my remap, so I have not been able to drive hers around to compare. I am thinking of taking it either to the mechanic who administered the map or my trusted local guy to see what they think but, before I do, does what I have described sound...normal to you? I appreciate it will probably be hard to interpret what I am on about.

I'm sorry to be so vague. To be a little clearer, it's not a juddering or endlessly repeating bump of the kind you would  expect from a mis-shapen wheel or something stuck to the tyre, and it's not the kind of springy, bouncy sensation one might expect from some dodgy springs. It's just that the car seems to...move about more than I recall before. I am reluctant to act on my 30-day money back entitlement on the remap as I am delighted with the new performance of the car and I really can't see a mechanism by which the motion could be connected with a remapped engine. I wouldn't want to lose the map only to find out it is either perfectly normal behaviour, something not related to the remap, or that restoring to factory ECU achieves nothing.

Any suggestions/advice/reassurance appreciated. I may be test driving some cars with my wife over the next couple of weeks so that may provide some reassurance that this is fairly normal.
So I was stood there trying to work out why the cricket ball was getting larger and larger...and then it hit me.

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2017, 05:01:59 PM »
If I'm honest I'd be more looking at Tyre pressures initially it's got a bit warmer over the last few days so they may be sky high.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2017, 05:34:31 PM by StevenRB45 »

Offline red_imps_2003

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2017, 02:58:41 PM »
Sorry for the delay in acknowledging/replying. I can't recall my login details (to log in at home) and the password reset feature doesn't seem to be working.

Aye; I checked my tyres shortly after noticing the bumpiness. Although two of them were well under-pressure, ensuring all four are fine hasn't made a difference to how it rides. I am beginning to feel that it may have been like this before the remap and having that done has just made me more sensitive to how the car feels. I hope to be test driving a car along with my wife over the weekend so may get a sense of how normal it is then. I may well make an appointment with the mechanic who installed the map too, just to see what he thinks. I am 90% sure it is either perfectly normal or unconnected with the changes to the ECU but it would be nice to get it checked before the 30-day money back option expires.
So I was stood there trying to work out why the cricket ball was getting larger and larger...and then it hit me.

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2017, 07:10:29 PM »
From what you've said I'd be inclined to agree it's unlikely the remap has done anything to it.

For what it's worth I believe it sounds reasonably familiar but description of how something feels to drive over the internet is not an exact science. I would say that in mine big bumps are dealt with without fuss the stuff that tends to get through is small surface changes or undulations. It's too stiff to float over imperfections so at least some of it is transferred to your back side. Having said that we have a ds3 on the same size wheels but slightly smaller tyres and it absolutey creams that on the same surfaces. The 3 makes you aware the surface is uneven, the ds3 transmits every ripple in the road faithfully into the cabin.

But I am on bigger tyres than you get on the ts2 with the Faux bucket sport seats as well so it's not exactly a like for like comparison.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 07:14:30 PM by StevenRB45 »

Offline red_imps_2003

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2017, 10:54:10 PM »
Thank you once again for your feedback. I am beginning to come around to the notion I am probably being a bit sensitive, having been primed to expect knock-on effects with things I have read in the past. Will see what trying out another vehicle brings this weekend.

I am about to submit a query on the body shops thread you may be able to advise on (being local an' all)...
So I was stood there trying to work out why the cricket ball was getting larger and larger...and then it hit me.

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Re: Just bought a Mazda 3 - very impressed
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2017, 10:54:10 PM »