An automobile that by nature wants to take the road less traveled.
Jeff Townsley - CleanMPG
- Sept. 6, 2007
The 2007 Mazda3 S Touring. A performance oriented hypermiler’s dream come true.
As many members here know, I am a big fan of hybrids. I love the technology, engineering and results of said work. But darn it, they haven't built one for me yet! The manufactures have come close but no cigar.
My wants and needs in a car are specifically mine. Having an 80 + mile daily grind makes fuel economy and the environmental impact an important aspect. I place even more significance on the handling of the car. When I want it to stop, I want it to be a near painless event. When I want it to corner, I expect it to throw a cup of coffee across the cabin. When I hit the gas and start grabbing gears I darn well expect it to go. Basic creature comforts and pleasant surroundings have some importance also. As I have aged safety is becoming even more important. Not so much raw crash test data, but over all survivability and built in drivability tools. I expect a lot out of my car and I will not be shoe horned into a “One size fits all” if I can help it. Enter the Mazda3 S Touring which fits my needs nicely.
2007 Mazda Touring S 2.3L w/ MT Pricing
: MSRP: $18,425 - Invoice: $17,246 - Destination: $595.
Mazda3 S Touring Spec’s
|Moonroof and 6-CD Package||$890||$765|
|Black Leather Seat Upholstery||$590||$507|
|In-Dash 6-Disc CD Changer||$500||$400|
|SIRIUS Satellite Radio||$430||$344|
|Rear Wing Spoiler||$375||$300|
|Rear Lip Spoiler||$325||$260|
|Compass and Auto-dimming Mirror w/Homelink||$275||$260|
|Pearl Paint Charge||$200||$172|
|Compass and Auto-dimming Mirror||$200||$160|
|Pearl Satin Fuel-Filler Door||$100||$80|
|Door Edge Guards||$100||$80|
|All-Weather Floor Mats||$78||$62|
can be viewed in the CleanMPG - New Fuel Efficient Automobile Specifications
forum at the following: 2007 Mazda3 4 and 5-door sedan.
Mazda3 S Touring Safety Features
Advanced dual front air bags (SRS) - with crash-zone & driver's seat position/passenger weight sensors (Mazda Advanced Restraint System).
Dual front side-impact air bag supplemental restraint system (SRS) - front seat-mounted (front coverage).
Side air curtains - front & rear coverage.
Collapsible steering column (following air bag deployment).
"Crushable" brake pedal.
Whiplash-reducing front seat headrests.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).
Traction Control System (TCS).
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC).
Power assist; Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) w/ Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD).
2007 Mazda3 S Touring - NHTSA Crash Test Ratings
Mazda3 S Touring - Touring the belly of the beast
The Mazda 3 looks like it wants to be driven but there is more to it than its semi sinister good looks. Some thought was put into elements of its design. Let us take a look at some of them. For this tour one only needs to get on the ground.
An integrated partial engine belly pan.
The pan is a half pan and stretches as far as the engine oil drain bolt. It is a well made plastic affair with 10mm bolts and 2 push clips holding it in place. The hole lines up well with the oil filter on a 2.0L but way off for the 2.3L mill. There is simply no reason for it being there.
Looking just beyond the pan. The bottom of the car has no other aerodynamic enhancements but is surprisingly clean as everything appears to flow together. Surprisingly, there are no tire/wheel air defectors although it should not be a problem to add them. The only thing that seems to hang down and not flow is the rear sway bar and links. Not much of an issue.
Getting around to the back underside of the car, the airflow appears as if it would be greatly disturbed. The Mazda 3 needs a rear under tray bad! Get to the back side of the rear suspension and nothing is smooth or flows well. The inside edge of the lower rear bumper cover acts like a scoop. This can be fixed rather easy with a DIY rear pan. There are plenty of mounting points and I feel this mod will be a great help at common highway speeds.
Here is the well built fully independent rear suspension. Also included is a factory sound proof under coating running the entire length of the vehicle underneath.
Mazda3 S Touring - Moving back to the front of the car and popping the hood
Here are a couple of other interesting items of note.
First off we find a very nicely built battery box and air duct for the battery. This can be a double edge sword but I do have something to work with. As most hypermilers know, battery's do not like us given those of us that FAS tend to be very hard on them. If we are not trying to kill a battery, Mother Nature certainly is! With temperatures running in the high 90's to low 100's in this part of the country during the summer months, I like seeing a battery box with a fresh air duct. There is absolutely no need to roast a 12v if it can be prevented. The down side is the air duct will need to be partially blocked off during the winter months.
Moving on to the engine. It is really nothing special. A straight forward 2.3L - four valve per cylinder - inline 4 with dual over head cams using Mazda's Variable Valve Timing. There is a balance shaft that keep the engine spinning very smooth. Along with a two stage intake manifold. A drive by wire throttle is also standard equipment.
The OEM air intake is a mess with regards to modifying/installing a warm air intake this winter. The filter box is tucked down under the battery box duct. The intake tract goes straight down out of the filter box and into a huge resonator system. I may install a small copper coil in the intake tract and let the heating/cooling system preheat the intake this winter. On a high note Mazda did think about preheating intake air with a water passage in the throttle body. I am sure this helps in the winter months but will not be near enough for my taste
Also under the hood we find a electro-hydraulic power steering system. A small 12V electric motor is used to power a small hydraulic pump. More on this unit later on.
Another unique item I really like is the cartridge style oil filter. While this engines emissions and fuel economy are not the cleanest EPA wise, it does have an environmental friendly oil filter.
When replacing the oil filter. All that is replaced is the filter media and two o-rings. No steel can to throw away. The filters outer housing stays with the car. Look for this style of oil filter in even more vehicles as time marches on.
The ABS, Traction Control, great handling and athletic stopping power all connect to the ground through this wheel and tire setup.
Unfortunately, this setup is by no means geared for the hypermiler but I feel it was chosen for the normal to spirited driver. This does not mean it will not provide great results for a hypermiler, only that the tire/wheel combo was designed for steering/handling performance at the expense of some FE. This OEM tire and wheel combo in part helps me in my hypermiling effort concerning corners and sport fasing although it does hurt coasting to some extent. It doesn't kill coast distances as we will see later in the review, just hampers them a touch is all.
Mazda3 S Touring - The Inside Facts
The Mazda3 sedan is a very comfortable car and I cannot fault it one bit. I'm going to hang it out here and state in my honest opinion. My Mazda 3 is every bit as comfortable as our 7th generation Accord. Why this car is compared to a Civic or Corolla is over my head. It lacks some elbow room, foot well room and back seat room but not nearly the same sacrifice as the Civic/Corolla contingent. In other words, we have just a slightly smaller Accord/Camry but larger then the Civic/Corolla.
The drivers seat is heaven sent. It is soft and supportive. This is the only car I have driven that has a lumbar support I can actually use. In fact, not once has it made my bottom hurt or go numb nor do I have to shift myself around to keep these pains or discomforts from occurring.
The dash and controls are very well laid out although there is nothing earth shattering supplied. The center stack is very wide for a car of this size. Its size alone makes the foot wells a bit on the small side. This in turn puts the foot controls close together. Many have complained about the foot controls being cramped as well as the lack of room for the right leg. I actually prefer it! If one is inclined to do some heel and toe or simple rev matching, the close placement is an advantage, not a hindrance. As for the cramped right leg, I do not feel this to be a problem to date. I can rest my right leg against the center stack and use it as a lock point when load driving there by removing whole leg movement. This lets my brain focus on my foot placement, as you will read in a moment.
The materials used in the cockpit go from first class to so-so. The steering wheel and shift knob are leather wrapped and have a great feel. The dash is hard plastic, but pleasingly well done. And the glove box is huge! I can put my laptop in it
The upholstery used on the seats has a very course nylon/synthetic cheap feel however. Surprisingly it seems to breathe well and feels good under a clothed bottom and back. The center armrest and door armrest's have hard and soft plastic surfaces. The headliner is a felt like material. The Sun visors are made out of a very light semi soft plastic with only mirrors in them. The carpet and floor mats are on the cheap side so only time will tell about their longevity. They are easy to vacuum and being black. Vacuuming will happen a lot. Some how Mazda was able to use materials that cross the gambit. They used textures and trim to some how pull together an interior that functions better than it looks or feels. This little fact caught me way off guard. A cockpit one can live in makes driving a lot easier and allows you to focus more on the task at hand. I honestly don't know how they pulled this off!
Here are some pics of the Mazda's iFCD. It is listed as a feature in Grand Touring Package but can be accessed in the lesser equipped models as well. While the GT trim is a nice upgrade for many, I thought the only thing included worth the price was the low current draw but far better forward lighting HID's. IMHO, Mazda's leather is so bad that they should drop the price if you take it! Anyway in most Mazda3's, the iFCD is a button hack away. Once its activated you get the iFCD where the clock normally displays. Cycle through with the set button, press clock to see the time, touch set again and the iFCD is both active and displayed. From the few tanks I have consumed to date, the i/aFCD appears to read 1.25 to 2.0 mpg low from the actuals.
Display showing audio and iFCD.-------------------------------
Current mpg via segment aFCD.----------------------------------
The car has ample sound deadening materials including the coating job underneath the car. Other materials used in the car range from textile materials on the inside of the firewall to heat protecting metals and mat on the engine side of the firewall. Other bits include foam and textile used on the backside of the kick panels and under dash panels. I was impressed at the levels Mazda went to in this area of design. It was quite interesting to see the design while running a power cable to the trunk of the car. There is no wind noise to speak of. With the included 17" wheels and tire combo, one would think it would roar! You do know when you go from one road surface to the next but it is in no way like Honda road noise. It is simply a different car from the 8th gen Civic I drove previously. The ride is firm but not harsh while still communicating to you. The car just seems to glide over potholes that are bone rattlers in our other vehicles.
Driving the Mazda3 S Touring Sedan
Driving this car is a blast. Everybody knows how it handles. It turns in great, takes off great and stops nearly as good as some of the very best cars in the world. I do not think you can purchase a car that stops better for under $35k.
So lets get into how this car performs when driven for fuel economy. As I stated in the stats, it's not a FE machine but you can change its agenda for the better.
Mazda3 S Touring - Coast down testing
The Mazda3 on HWY 75 in OK. just north of where I live and have done coast down testing in the past. That sign is a mark I hit daily for a FAS on my daily grind.
I spent way to much time on this test. I first started out testing at 50 psi. Impressed with what I was seeing I pushed the tire pressure to 60 psi. It didn't help one bit. So the tires went back down to 55 psi in the cool of morning.
Here is a link to a coasting shoot out I did with the Accord, Civic and Ranger for comparison. Ideas on pushing the Civics mpg farther.
I hit the FAS point at 60 mph and noted the results. They speak for themselves.
|Run||60 to 50 mph distance traveled||60 to 30 mph distance traveled||Total FAS distance traveled |
|First Run||.8 miles||1.5 miles||1.8 miles |
|Second Run||.7 miles||1.4 miles||1.9 miles |
|Third Run||.8 miles||1.4 miles||1.8 miles |
| || || || |
|Average||.76 miles||1.43 miles||1.83 miles|
WOW was I impressed as I expected far lower numbers. The car does not feel like it coasts all that well but the numbers proved otherwise. Considering the larger wheel and tire combo and the fact that it is wearing a semi sport class tire, I was honestly blown away. Because of the great results initially, I was skeptical so to verify, I performed the coast down tests during the morning, evening and heat of the day. The numbers achieved were consistent with the results above no matter the time of day.
Now knowing that the Mazda 3 coasts with the best of them, I have a feeling the Cd of .32 that is bantered about the net may be close. The larger and more performance oriented wheel and tire combo is not hurting her abilities either! I would have thought the softer compound was doing some damage over all but the results prove otherwise. Look at the picture of the Mazda3 tires parked on the shoulder of HWY 75. Then look at the picture of the Accord parked in the same place in the link posted above. I can assure you the shoulder on the HWY isn't any dirtier then when the Accord was there but the Goodyear’s on the Mazda, thinks it is dirty.
As I move on into driving the Mazda3 for fuel economy, let us take a brief look at the dyno curve. It is not a dyno run of my vehicle but should be representative of the Mazda3 2.3L’s no matter the locale.
The Mazda3’s ICE clearly pulls very well right off idle. All one has to do is get it rolling and pull second. Second gear is just too tall a gear to start out of. So first, second and third are very quick up-shifts. There is no horsepower to speak of in the lower rpm's but there is plenty of torque to make it move. So from idle to 3000 rpm, it is a low rpm cake walk. Shifting gears at 3000 rpm will move the car along at a brisk enough pace. It is all that is needed to get on any freeway with a on ramp of any length at all. Zoom Zoom, and you are there
I try to keep my shift points between 1200 and 2000 rpm during my daily grind driving activities but 2500 + rpm seems to happen all to often
The clutch is not the best I have driven but is no slouch either. The transmission is one of the better ones I have had the opportunity to drive. Both the transmission and clutch are a little heavy however. It all seems dependent on how you choose to shift. If you are shifting slowly, it feels heavy and a bit disconnected. When shifting quick, it leaves its heavy and sluggish ways behind and moves to a brisk, positive and engaging feel. The change in feel does not seem to be dependent on the rate of forward movement but weighted on just how fast the driver wants to make the shifts. To date I have had no snychro clash or bumps. I have also not found the need to rev match from a FAS. Just drop it into fifth if coming off a high speed FAS (third or fourth if running slower speeds) and bump start. It is hard to get a real smooth bump start. Not bad, just not as smooth as I would like. I feel most of this is due to the Mazda3’s so so motor mounts. The Mazda3 has had motor mount issues in the past but they have moved to a stiffer mount thus increasing the harshness IMHO. Key starts are great as the engine fires right up with no hesitation.
Mazda3 S Touring - Time for some basic mpg numbers
Individual tank logs and overall result for Papa's Evil Dream
The Mazda3 comes equipped with a 2.3L in it so she is not known to be a hypermilers dream. The car is nowhere near broken in for max mpg levels yet and I do not expect better mpg until next summer. Knowing what I can do, lets face it. I'm on the hot side of the hypermiler curve
The car is just going to have to come to me. And with that, time will tell.
So lets look at some numbers. The following pictures are of a run on my 20 mile test loop. This loop is 10 miles to the mid point and 10 miles back. All done on the same roads. The run was made on a stone cold engine. Air temp 90F.
Half way point from initial launch of the segment.--------
Back home in the driveway. Full loop complete.
Low load steady state low speed.---------------------
Low speed coast, ice idle in neutral.
While these numbers are not terribly impressive, this is not my normal run given my average speed was 32 mph. My normal average speed is 27 mph. And I did have to pass a haying tractor and truck at one of my FAS marks. I figure the results are low by ~ 3 mpg.
Next I have a series of pictures on a pulse-bleed cycle. I don't pulse-glide much. I'm more of a FAS and load driver. This series of pictures also replicates load driving for me very well on my daily grind. I kind of take our basic tools and modify them as needed for my style.
Pulse is complete.
Pulse complete and in an ICE-On - in gear glide.--------------
Exiting the high to low speed bleed off.
Next move would be another pulse or back to the load driving technique.
This is a tank picture two tanks ago. This tank ended up coming in at 42.7 mpg by hand calculations w/ no distance or fuel offsets.
My last tank came in at 44.7 mpg by hand calculations. The SG-1 showed 44 mpg and was high 10 miles on the total traveled (vs. the Odometer). If this holds up the next few tanks, I can stop fiddling with the SG1 until colder temps later on in the year. I did make a 1% adjustment on the tank capacity last fill attempting to tighten up the tank mpg number.
Mazda3 S Touring - Electro Hydraulic Power Steering System
This thing is an odd duck to say the least. Steering is very engaging with good feedback but its mode of operation is, well, stupid for a hypermiler. Keep in mind; this car steers great without it. If you cannot steer this car without it, you really need to see a doctor and/or a gym of your choice
Here is the quirk. If you go into a FAS, you will not get the power steering back until you are back under 20 mph with the ice running or until you come to a full stop and re-start the engine. Let us say your in a coast with engine running and you go to make a turn. You have not bled down to 20 mph or under or stopped and restarted the car since your last FAS so EPS is still out. In the middle of a turn, the power steering suddenly and without warning reappears? If you didn't know this was going to happen and were muscling the car around, you could make a rather ugly U-Turn real quick or flat spin the thing out if you are cornering on a wet or slick road condition. As a result, I spend a lot of time with no power steering yet the car steers very good without it. If I can figure out how to keep the pump on and all the safety HW working, I will keep it. Best case is to keep the pump in a duty cycle, of sorts in its own closed loop unhooked from the steering rack, knock the valving system out of the steering rack, lube it up and go with manual steering if it comes to that. If there is another way to keep the other safety systems working and do away with the power steering system all together, that would be GREAT!
Mazda3 S Touring - In Closing.
This is not the average mpg junkies ride. It is an inexpensive but extremely well designed sports sedan. Nothing more, nothing less. It has the ability to get rather good mpg’s but you are going to work for it! The Mazda3 by nature wants to take the road less traveled. I think Mazda's marketing group has gone over the top with ZOOM ZOOM given it is not going to hang with a Civic Si or a TSX. None the less, it is a lot of car for the $17,849.00 dollars I paid for it OTD. Including destination and dealer doc. fees. TT&L was another $683.00 dollars in Oklahoma.
I look forward to sport FAS’ing this car, some sinful romps on two lanes and pounding out the daily grind. It looks like it is going to fit me well as of this writing. There are some nice suspension upgrades and basic aerodynamic mods that I am currently considering given the ease of installation. All in, a great vehicle at a great price.
I would like to thank CleanMPG
for allowing me to bring you this review.
Now go get yourself some, if you think it will fit