Green Cars

Published on March 11th, 2013 | by Charis Michelsen

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Mazda3 i Grand Touring – Zoom Zoom + Skyactiv = Fun: Days 2-4

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March 11th, 2013 by

Hi, I’m Charis Michelsen. I write about cars (among other important things). I’ve been fairly quiet the past couple months due to the rest of my life clamoring for attention, but this week I’ve got a Mazda3 i Grand Touring to play with. It’s a happy car – just look at its smiling face:

Mazda3 i Grand Touring FeaturedFor the technicalities, head on over to the first post in the series.

Day 2, 9:11am

So there’s allegedly a massive winter storm pummeling the entire country. (Honestly, we could use the moisture around here, what with the dry summer and the drier winter wreaking agricultural havoc, so I really can’t be upset.)

Mazda3 i Grand Touring Winter Test PrepOn the other hand, this does not look like a particularly impressive amount of snowfall. My wet hair isn’t even close to freezing. But, since this is what I have to work with, I’m going to go drive the Mazda3 i in it and see how it handles inclement weather conditions.

Day 1, 9:13am

But before I get going, I think I’m going to get one more piece of emergency hardware:

Mazda3 i Grand Touring TrunkNote that a full size snow shovel does in fact fit in the trunk. As a native of what I am assured in no uncertain terms is The Great White North, this is important to me. For those of you who don’t regularly see snowfall, the spacious trunk is useful for many other things.

Day 1, 9:22am

I have been complaining all winter that as soon as a drop of water touches the roads, people forget how to drive. This is still true – traffic around me is crawling, as if the roads are made of slippery sheet glass.  (They aren’t.)

Mazda3 i Grand Touring Roads Not BadWhen I say the roads aren’t bad, I mean it’s possible to drive without sliding around too much. The last time they were like this, my little Ford was fairly steady (it only spun out once, okay).

The Mazda? Like a rock. (If rocks also had super smooth acceleration and tight handling.) I tried to make it slide around a corner and it refused.

Day 2, 9:26am

The worst part of the weather isn’t the condition of the roads, it’s the visibility:

Mazda3 i Grand Touring Winter Handling 1Which brings me to the rain sensors in the windshield wipers. (These are part of the optional technology package.) They adjust the speed of the wipers according to how much moisture is present, which is pretty convenient. The sensors and I disagree on how much moisture requires wiper blade action, but whatever. I’m not going to argue with the car.

Day 1, 9:27am

I lied. The worst part of the weather isn’t the visibility. It’s still not the roads. It’s the other drivers. Why are you people all driving 15 miles under the limit. Scratch that question.

Mazda3 i Grand Touring Winter Handling 2Why are you people driving fifteen miles under the limit, not checking your blind spots, and then pulling out in front of me. (This happened twice – an Altima and a late model Impala both attempted to kill me via improperly timed lane changes.)

The Mazda3 i reacts beautifully to other driver idiocy. It manages both acceleration and swift lane changes with no hesitation, no slipping, and no skidding.

Day 2, 9:35am

I actually have to retract some of my frustration with the other cars on the road; my windows are fogged and it’s not easy to see my blind spot.  This is where the blind spot monitoring system (which does come standard) comes in handy. Not that I was ever wrong, but it’s a nice back-up to have.

Day 2, 12:48pm

The snow got heavy enough that I didn’t want to take my attention off the road for the purpose of photographing it. The Mazda3 i handled it well – there was still no slipping or skidding, although I did feel the need to drive slightly below the speed limit once I got back off the tollway.

Day 3

I actually had some free time this week, which means I took the car way up into the middle of nowhere, Wisconsin, to visit family I haven’t seen since July. My love-hate relationship with the GPS is swinging toward the love side of the equation, despite how long it takes to figure out where my relatives live:

Mazda3 i Grand Touring Slow GPS

It did this for a really long time.

Then again, it’s going through a lot of roads, so.

What I actually liked about it quite a bit was that it periodically gave me traffic updates and assured me that I was still on the fastest route. It also let me know before setting the route that there would be toll charges and gave me the choice of opting out of any and all tollways.

There is no minute by minute here because I drove in excess of 200 miles in one shot with zero issues. Also, while a) Mazda has not specifically forbidden me from racing the car and b) I am within striking distance of a track, said track is under 3 feet of snow.

Day 4

I came back.

No, really, that was pretty much it. I ended up in rush hour down I-94 (and stuck in traffic on pretty much every other road), which was less than pleasant, but the GPS did warn me:

Mazda3 i Grand Touring Traffic DelayThe GPS also, at one point, informed me that traffic conditions had changed and there was a faster route. Definitely tipping toward love here.

Minor annoyance: the blind spot monitoring system seems to think that the concrete barrier in the middle of the under-construction road is another car and continues to inform me that my blind spot is occupied. I can see the wall, car, it’s right there.

Actually, the blind spot monitoring system has come back to haunt me; the Mazda3 i and I have, um, differing opinions on safe merging distance. It beeps at me every time it thinks I’m cutting someone off. This happens a lot.

Final note for the day: The seats are comfortable, particularly considering how much time I’ve spent in them over the past couple of days.

Come on back tomorrow for my final impressions and the hiding place for the manual.

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About the Author

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.



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