YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Good things come in a small (subcompact, actually) package

July 11, 2007|Warren Brown | Washington Post

The car went zoom-zoom, sip-sip, which was odd. Most cars that go zoom-zoom don't sip; and most that sip don't go zoom-zoom. When you get a car that does both, you pay attention. The subcompact Mazda3 2.3 Sport sedan was hard to ignore.

Personally, I love the Mazda3. I think it's one of the best subcompact cars ever made -- sporty, very decent interior, fun. But it's a subcompact. To face a round-trip drive of 260 miles from our home in Arlington, Va., to Cambridge, Md., in a small car with a wife still boiling over a delayed remodeling job. Add a third body -- a persnickety daughter -- and you have a problem.

The ride began in perfect silence, which this time was a good thing. Binta in the rear did not complain about being cramped. My wife Mary Anne in the front passenger's seat fell asleep. The little Mazda3 2.3 Sport, once it broke free of Beltway traffic, just whizzed along.

Mary Anne awakened. "Not bad for a little car. It's kind of nice," she said. Binta acquiesced from the rear. "Not nearly as bad as I thought," she said. "It's a little tight, but all right."

I was feeling good. Heck, I was feeling great. The women were happy. I was out of the boxed house and the doghouse.

But . . .

"You're going to get a ticket!" Mary Anne shouted. "You're speeding! Slow down!"

I looked at the speedometer, which was backlit in red. My God! I was speeding. I hereby take the 5th Amendment and decline to say how fast I was going. I didn't feel the speed. I had gotten to that point so effortlessly in an $18,000 subcompact, front-wheel-drive car with a 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine and a five-speed automatic transmission. It wasn't even the fastest or most powerful version of the Mazda3. Fast and furious honors go to the model line's top runner -- the turbocharged 2.3-liter, four-cylinder, 263-horsepower, appropriately named Mazdaspeed version of the Mazda3.

I slowed to a more reasonable pace.

We drove back to our home in Arlington without adding fuel. Finally, after accumulating 330 miles, I refilled the tank before returning the car to Mazda.

Los Angeles Times Articles