Author Topic: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?  (Read 949 times)

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Offline philly

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I am seriously considering buying a Mazda 3 with a petrol engine as my next car. I have test driven two different BM version cars (2015). Everything about this car is right except for the infamous issue of tyre noise at motorway speeds. Now, I did have an opportunity to drive it at around 80 mph but, honestly, what can you tell about noise after a 2-minute drive at such speed?
I am considering buying either BL with a 2.0 petrol engine, or a BM with a 2.0 petrol engine (165 bhp, if I can find one).

1. Is there any difference in tyre noise level between BL and BM generations?
2. Is the noise worse in the Sport trim which has 17-inch and 18-inch wheels on BL and BM models, respectively?
3. Will changing the tyres to a specific model help reduce noise to a large extent?

Generally, is this noise issue something one can live with, or is that intolerable? Thank you for your opinions.

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2018, 09:31:43 AM »
I've got a 2016 Sport, shod with the Standard Dunlop SportMaxx on 18" wheels and it can be really noisy on certain stretches of motorway but other than that the noise levels are OK

Offline zoomzoomer

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2018, 12:13:19 PM »
I had a gen 2 sport and now have  the gen 3 model. The gen 3 sport is  much more refined, more comfy,  has a higher seating position ,smoother to drive and quieter but not as much fun to drive as the gen 2 sport imo. The road noise is still there but not quite as bad as the gen 2,  a change of tyres would  probably help but I always have music on when I'm in the car so not really  an issue for me.
 

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2018, 01:18:49 PM »
It'll depend on your current car, it's not the quietest car in class...but it's not terrible by any means or even particularly bad in my opinion.

I've got the old "unrefined" pre facelift gen 2, it's so "bad" I can only do 5.5 hours without a break in it. Unless you have a clinical aversion to tyre roar or 1000 miles to cover in 2 days it's fine.

I did change to some low noise tyres a few years ago but it was still not terrible before hand, it's better now though.

TBH I feel as though journalists look for any difference between cars and then exaggerate for review purposes. You can have a normal conversation at 70 no problem and it won't give you a migraine, only time it verges on actually noisy is ribbed concrete motorways.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2018, 01:24:02 PM by StevenRB45 »

Offline Engineer Andy

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2018, 07:22:56 PM »
Whilst there is a noticeable difference between (on the mk3) the 18in-shod Sport models and the 16in-shod SE/SE-L models, its probably less so between the 17in-shod mk2 Sport models and the newer ones.  What seems to come up time and again is the choice of tyre and road surfaces its driven on (e.g. poorly maintained roads, possibly top-dressed and concrete surfaces [not enough sound proofing IMHO]) - the problem with the 18in tyres on the current gen Sport models is that the specific tyre size is quite rare and thus there aren't the large range of tyre available as on the previous generations (mk1 and 2) for the 15, 16 and 17-shod models.  Even the mk3's 16in tyres are unusual (to match the overal diameter of the 18in ones) at 205/60 R16V, the previous gen cars shod with 205/55 R16V or 15/17in equivalents.  Aside from the limited range available (and often limited to high performance tyres, which by their nature are normally less quiet/comfortable) and higher noise, they are also MUCH more expensive than the 17in tyres of the gen 1 and 2.

What I've also noticed is that many mk3 Sport models get PXed at dealerships before the warranty is up, and I suspect its because of the noise/comfort issue as much as reliability (most are also 2.2TDs, but still quite a few 2.0 petrols), perhaps because the owner cannot (are the Sport models' brakes larger so a 16in wheel cannot fit?) or won't consider changing to the 16in alloys and tyres, because they (the tyres) are almost as rare (size-wise) and  changing all four would end up costing best part of £850, perhaps more.  Very few 2.0 SE/SE-Ls get PXed, probably why they attract so little discounts when new - they are popular, especially amongst cash (i.e. non PCP/lease) buyers who are likely to be more cost-conscious and and want to keep the car longer than 3 years, so thoroughly check out the ride quality and running costs before choosing.

Why Mazda couldn't have kept to the previous tyre sizes which are barely different but so much more widely available, cheaper and not really any worse handling wise.  18in tyres should be on proper sports models (I wouldn't really call the 165 one, more a 'warm hatch' at best), the rest can do perfectly fine on 16in, and, if you must, 17in rims.

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2018, 09:28:42 PM »
The main reason I sold my Gen 3 Sport Nav was because of the intrusive noise level. My friend to whom I sold it is quite happy with that aspect though and is absolutely delighted with the car. So there you are.
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Offline philly

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2018, 10:05:44 PM »
Whilst there is a noticeable difference between (on the mk3) the 18in-shod Sport models and the 16in-shod SE/SE-L models, its probably less so between the 17in-shod mk2 Sport models and the newer ones.  What seems to come up time and again is the choice of tyre and road surfaces its driven on (e.g. poorly maintained roads, possibly top-dressed and concrete surfaces [not enough sound proofing IMHO]) - the problem with the 18in tyres on the current gen Sport models is that the specific tyre size is quite rare and thus there aren't the large range of tyre available as on the previous generations (mk1 and 2) for the 15, 16 and 17-shod models.  Even the mk3's 16in tyres are unusual (to match the overal diameter of the 18in ones) at 205/60 R16V, the previous gen cars shod with 205/55 R16V or 15/17in equivalents.  Aside from the limited range available (and often limited to high performance tyres, which by their nature are normally less quiet/comfortable) and higher noise, they are also MUCH more expensive than the 17in tyres of the gen 1 and 2.

What I've also noticed is that many mk3 Sport models get PXed at dealerships before the warranty is up, and I suspect its because of the noise/comfort issue as much as reliability (most are also 2.2TDs, but still quite a few 2.0 petrols), perhaps because the owner cannot (are the Sport models' brakes larger so a 16in wheel cannot fit?) or won't consider changing to the 16in alloys and tyres, because they (the tyres) are almost as rare (size-wise) and  changing all four would end up costing best part of £850, perhaps more.  Very few 2.0 SE/SE-Ls get PXed, probably why they attract so little discounts when new - they are popular, especially amongst cash (i.e. non PCP/lease) buyers who are likely to be more cost-conscious and and want to keep the car longer than 3 years, so thoroughly check out the ride quality and running costs before choosing.

Why Mazda couldn't have kept to the previous tyre sizes which are barely different but so much more widely available, cheaper and not really any worse handling wise.  18in tyres should be on proper sports models (I wouldn't really call the 165 one, more a 'warm hatch' at best), the rest can do perfectly fine on 16in, and, if you must, 17in rims.

Would you recommend I go with the mk2 Sport 2.0 petrol? It has 17-inch tyres, standard size, hence not that expensive. On the other hand, mk3 SE-L Nav supposedly is more refined and quiter on its 16-inch, hard-to-get tyres. Which one would be a better choice?

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2018, 10:43:10 PM »
In top gear terms...the mk3 is a better, more modern car in all areas. Also the 2.0 in the new car is significantly more frugal.

In "nevermind top gear I want something to live with" terms the mk2 has advantages. I got 4 Goodyear tyres for 360 quid not 850 on my 17s, it has more interior storage, it has a central arm rest, it doesn't have the slighlty problematic touch screen system but will have Bluetooth integration. That and they've been around long enough that second hand parts are readily available so it will probably prove to be cheaper to run long term. Although the old 2.0 is not the most efficent its pretty much bullet proof as well with regular maintenance.

I'd go drive both see what you think, the mk2 with the hydraulic steering is probably a bit more driver focused and a bit less comfort focused. But I have the early mk2 and sounds like you'll be looking at a later one which were refined at the face lift for better NVH.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2018, 10:50:29 PM by StevenRB45 »

Offline philly

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2018, 11:51:26 PM »
In top gear terms...the mk3 is a better, more modern car in all areas. Also the 2.0 in the new car is significantly more frugal.

In "nevermind top gear I want something to live with" terms the mk2 has advantages. I got 4 Goodyear tyres for 360 quid not 850 on my 17s, it has more interior storage, it has a central arm rest, it doesn't have the slighlty problematic touch screen system but will have Bluetooth integration. That and they've been around long enough that second hand parts are readily available so it will probably prove to be cheaper to run long term. Although the old 2.0 is not the most efficent its pretty much bullet proof as well with regular maintenance.

I'd go drive both see what you think, the mk2 with the hydraulic steering is probably a bit more driver focused and a bit less comfort focused. But I have the early mk2 and sounds like you'll be looking at a later one which were refined at the face lift for better NVH.

What year was the face-lifted version of mk2 released? 2012? Do they also only have hydraulic power-assisted steering?

Looking at 1.6 petrol performance (12.2 sec 0-60 mph) - is it not too sluggish in terms of overtaking on a B-road?

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2018, 08:54:26 AM »
I believe the face lift is 12 on wards, mine on a 61 plate is one of the last of the original ones.

All the mk2s had electro hydraulic steering, which is like old fashioned hydraulic but has the difference of rather than running off a belt at engine speed constantly and sapping fuel economy it runs off an electric motor which varies the assistance based on speed and load. It combines the economy benefits of electric steering while still maintaining feel.

The 1.6 is fine in my opinion, although the 0-60 is a bit useless it's reasonable 30-70 and 50-70. Oddly enough I did a 70 mile B road trip round Northumberland and Cumbria last Sunday and in that time about 5 overtaking manoeuvres none of which gave any problems. Again though this will depend on you and your preferences to an extent, it's a Japanese 16v petrol with vvt. The VVT opens at 3.5k..peak torque is at 4k peak power is at 6k. This means if you don't like going over 3k rpm..you aren't going to get the best out of it. It's not got boosty torque like a lot of modern turbo stuff, you have to use the gears, but that's no hardship as the box is lovely. That's not to say it requires thrashing, it doesn't but not being afraid of putting some revs on livens it up for overtaking and joining motorways e.t.c.

That and similar to the old 2.0 the 1.6 is very strong with just regular maintenance so you don't have to treat it gently, although obviously if you are plain abusive you could probably break it.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2018, 06:46:37 PM by StevenRB45 »

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2018, 02:05:32 PM »
I agree with Steven that that the previous gen cars are more than adequate and have, at least as regards the petrol versions, relatively bullet-proof engines if they are maintained correctly.  Mazda did de-rate the 1.6 petrol in the mk2 to dip under the 149/150 g/km limit for VED Band F (my mk1 with the same [not de-rated] engine has a CO2 level of 172 g/km and is band H) to make it more attractive to buyers, but as a result, they reduced it usable performance by increasing the 0-60 time from 11.2 sec to 12.2 sec.  As Steven says, to get any halfway decent performance out of this engine (whetaver the variant), you do have to give it a LOT of right foot up to high revs.  Its perfectly fine tootling around at ordinary revs, but it wants to be a driver's car, even the lower-powered ones.

What you'd go for philly really depends on what you want out of the car, how long you're going to keep it and what your budget is, both purchase and ongoing costs.  As has been said, the more 'standard' set up of the mk1s and 2s means they are relatively cheap to run as regards maintenance and availability/price of most consumables (including tyres), and if you get a late model mk2 then it'll only be about 5 years old, so if its been well maintained up 'till then, it should be good for a good few years at least - just bear in mind you'll likely have to shell out for certain parts that will be wearing out (even if its a low mileage example [as happened to mine at around the 10yo mark onwards]), e.g. brake pads/discs (they don't like sitting around doing nothing and can bind/warp quite quickly), suspension arms/bushes (depends on the quality of your local roads and the amount/type of speed humps) and maybe A. N Other wear-and-tear item - not all at the same time, but replacements need to be budgeted for.

With the latest mk3 cars, they are direct injection, so can suffer (though they don't seem to be affected thus far as much as other makes using this design type) from the valves and other engine parts (?) getting gunked up with carbon residues that the 'old school' EFI (mk1 and 2) engines could, to a degree, wash off via the fuel injected into the engine differently, and can be more easily cleaned by aftermarket air intake sprays, whereas DI engines cannot and need to be taken apart.  Not so much of an issue if you mainly do motorway/fast-flowing roads driving, but can be if you do lots of short trips from cold in urban areas where unburnt fuel (rich mixture) gets left behind as residue, if I recall correctly.  The design in Mazdas is only 4-5 years old, so problems that occured in other makes adopting DI engines many years ago may not surface for a few more years, and may not be as severe if Mazda improved upon those designs.

Obviously a mk3, even one a few weeks younger than an equivalent mk2 will be more expensive to buy and probably insure, especially as the 2.0 SkyActive petrol version is a higher performance car than the mk2 equivalent, even though in standard (120hp) form it has less power (probably been de-rated from its 'normal' 145/165 output in the 6 and 3 Sport 165 for mpg/CO2 group reasons like before) than the mk2 (150hp).  Note that, as Steven says, the mk3 real world mpg is vastly higher at around 43mpg (ave) than the prev. gen 2.0 petrol engine at around 33mpg (figures from www.honestjohn.co.uk/realmpg/mazda).  Unless you're going to be doing a very high mileage (well over 20k miles), then the lower purchase and ownership costs of the mk2 (including tyres) will more than offset the higher purchase cost and mpg, as well as certain higher maintenance costs (e.g. tyres, but it may need les parts as its newer and a newer design).

Best to get a thorough test drive (preferably more than one) of both cars, and make sure you check the size requirements (especially the boot), comfort (including seating position and when driving) is to your liking.  Note that the mk3 DOES NOT come with a space saver spare tyre as standard - the 'tube of goo' most come with is useless and renders ANY tyre its used to to temporarily (if it works at all) keep a tyre inflated for 50 miles unrepairable.

The mk3 can take a space saver spare, but Mazda in their inifinite wisdom make the fitment in the boot well a unique shape (not just round to take a specific [standard] space saver wheel and tyre like the mk1s and 2s), which means, if it doesn't have it fitted, you either shell out £395 to buy they wheel, tyre and fitment cutout & tools (jack?, brace, etc) or spend ages trying to source a cheaper aftermarket jobbie from the Interweb and fit it yourself.  You can save 'some' money if you buy the Mazda version from a continental dealership, but about £50 - £100.  Other makes often make this sort of option far cheaper at around £100 - £150.

IMHO - don't be fobbed off by a dealer offering a mk3 without a 'proper' space saver wheel and tyre (make sure they have fitted the right one so it doesn't rattle around [no fitment cutout] or is too wide and raises the level of boot floor), as the 'tube of goo' non-solution is only effective to any degree if 1) a flat tyre isn't damaged on the sidewall (the goo won't seal it) or you have a blowout, and 2) you have either more than 50 miles to go to the nearest open tyre dealer (not on Sundays/bank holidays for many) that (just as importantly) has your tyre (not all do with the mk3's unusual size) available.  Not helped if you get the low profile 18in rims on the mk3, which like all lower profile tyres are far more susceptible to rim and tyre damage because the rims can buckle it they hit a pothole (nearer than a smaller wheel, which has more tyre to protect it and flex), especially as the tyre sidewalls are smaller and more rigid, taking less stress.  This also transmits more vibration to the suspension, meaning that doesn't last as long as those shod on smaller wheels and higher profile tyres.

I think that, slowly, people are cottoning on to the fact that low profile tyres are not worth the large downsides, even if they look nice and give a bit extra grip (mostly if driven hard - they are actually worse in heavy rain [worse on aquaplaning] and snow/ice).  Unfortunately, manufacturers aren't, or at least are pretending not to notice, as it probably gets them more business via repairs and replacements.

Offline philly

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2018, 03:58:47 PM »
Wow, thank you guys for elaborating on this. It really did help me a lot.

I am a bit ashamed to admit, I will be changing from a 1999 Nissan Micra 1.3 Inspiration (BTW a very reliable car, quite dynamic as well with 75 bhp, 13 sec 0-60). I like the fact that Mazda 3 has a naturally-aspirated engine - similar driving style to my micra.

My concern is that if I choose a 1.6 mk2 I will not notice any significant performance improvement over the car I drive now which sometimes lacks the power to safely overtake others. Also, will I be missing the 6th gear on a motorway? 2.0 mk2 does have 6 gears but it is bloody hard to find one on the market.

Could the 1.6 engine be tuned, similarly to a 2.0 in mk3?

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2018, 04:13:45 PM »
Also, if I intend to keep the car for at least 4 years, would it be a good idea to buy a mk2 with a 2.0 petrol engine and 70k on the clock?

Offline StevenRB45

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2018, 05:36:36 PM »
Wow, thank you guys for elaborating on this. It really did help me a lot.

I am a bit ashamed to admit, I will be changing from a 1999 Nissan Micra 1.3 Inspiration (BTW a very reliable car, quite dynamic as well with 75 bhp, 13 sec 0-60). I like the fact that Mazda 3 has a naturally-aspirated engine - similar driving style to my micra.

My concern is that if I choose a 1.6 mk2 I will not notice any significant performance improvement over the car I drive now which sometimes lacks the power to safely overtake others. Also, will I be missing the 6th gear on a motorway? 2.0 mk2 does have 6 gears but it is bloody hard to find one on the market.

Could the 1.6 engine be tuned, similarly to a 2.0 in mk3?

I've done the whole k11 Micra thing..we also had a 1.2 K12 SX for 7 years. It's a different character of thing in the 3 despite the similar numbers. You can drive it entirely normally without going over 3k rpm and it will easily keep up with most traffic. If you want to go faster you have the option of revving it out go find the extra power but you don't have to. Also the engine, brakes and suspension cope far better with a load than a supermini does, so if you have more than you on board it doesn't drive like a truck. I seem to remember the Micra required a lot of stoking in normal traffic.

The 0-60 on small cars is good because there's not much to move from rest, the 3 has more to move but it has better mid range once it's going.

tbh without wanting to be disparaging about the Micra which ever one you get will be a huge improvement. Even a 5 speed one will be more relaxed on the motorway (mines 3100 rpm at 70 ish on 17s), the tyre noise although not the best in class is far better than a Micra manages. I'm not saying this to be a d***, I came from a 1.5 Suzuki Swift, my wife had a K12 Micra, I had mates with K11s. Reading reviews is ones thing but I would very much doubt you would be anything other than impressed with the upgrade. Other than the gear change possibly.. the 3 is nice but I seem to remember the k11 was like a rifle bolt.

All I can say is drive one and see if it works for you. Also 70k miles is not a huge amount, it's the sort of age where suspension components start to feel it but the engines will get to twice that pretty easily. Depends on your annual mileage...that and it won't be worth a huge amount if you come to sell with 100k+.

There's no easy gains on a 1.6..or a 2.0 in the mk2 for that matter.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2018, 07:02:25 PM by StevenRB45 »

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Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2018, 12:15:00 PM »
I too owned a Micra (K11 1.0 S - 0-60in 14.9 sec) as my previous car (fine, just a bit slow) and agree with Steven's comments that, even with the 1.3 engine, the Micra is leagues below the Mazda3 in terms of the driving experience.  The 1.6 petrol engine in the mk1 and 2 is fine for most overtaking, but as with all Japanese VVT engines, certain manouvres will need the car to be in the correct gear and at high revs for maximum performance.  You won't need it for the most part, and because its grip and handling (even the mid and lower TS2/Takara/TS models shod on 16in or even 15in tyres) will be so superior to the Micra's that you'll think that you're running on rails in comparison - corners can be taken at significantly greater speeds if required - it is a proper 'driver's car'.  My 12yo car still drives very well and has just returned from doing near to 1000 miles on motorways and twisty country roads when I went on holiday to the West Country.  No problems at all.

The 2 litre petrol engine in the mk1 and 2 is fine, but not brilliant (it ain't in the same league as a Civic Type R from the same era), and is most suited to motorway cruising.  It'll probably return low to mid 30s mpg-wise on average, but there aren't many about as it wasn't that popular compared to the 1.6 petrol and diesel models.  5 gears are fine.  My 1.6 has just reached 65k miles, and whilst the suspension (front springs and damper) is wearing so the ride is not so cushioned as when new, its not really that bad at all.  Just bear in mind Mazda dealerships are apparently not replacing such parts as (my local told me) Mazda don't make them any more for the mk1 (mk2 may be the same, maybe not).  There are generic (still decent from well known brands) versions available - whether these can be fitted by a main dealer, I'm not sure - its not exactly work that requires an expert mechanic.  I have had the suspension bushes and control arms changed on my car at about the 50k mark as they were picked up as an 'advisory' on a previous MOT (no failures yet).  I wouldn't bother about thinking to get a 1.6 tuned, as you'll just pay a lot of money for very little increase in power and you're end up paying a LOT more in insurance because its a modification that has to be declared.

In a way, its a shame that the 3 didn't come with the very nice 1.8 petrol engine that's in the Mazda5 and in the related Ford Focus, as its a well-regarded engine that is just that bit better on performance and not that much worse on mpg than the Mazda 2.0 petrol.  I'd go for a test drive (at least an hour) in a well-maintained 1.6 petrol car before thinking about going for a 2.0, as you may be surprised at how well it drives.  They'll be many around and thus will be more affordable.

If you are looking at older cars, go on condition and proven service/MOT history, as that should indicate whether its been looked after and in good nick.  Corrosion at that age is what you'll need to look out for, as is odd noises (possibly indicating faults or worn components) when you test drive it.  Low mileage cars need to have the breaks checked as the can suffer from sticking capilers and warped discs if not used often.

If you're sourcing it from an indie or private seller and you don't have much knowledge about the mechanicals/electric, bring along a friend/colleague/relative who is or perhaps consider employing someone from one of the breakdown firms to inspect the car for you.  Often can be well worth it if the seller is trying to push a lemon on you, even if the purchase price is somewhere around the £1500 - £3000 mark, as a big fault can cost several £000s or more to fix and getting recompense (especially from a private seller) is nigh on impossible.  You may find the best seller is someone who has kept the car for a long time and has a wealth of service dockets/receipts, normally meaning they've looked after it.

Mazda 3 Forums UK

Re: I really want Mazda 3 for my next car - is noise really that bad?
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2018, 12:15:00 PM »