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2014 Mazda MAZDA3 S Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited September 2014 in Mazda

image2014 Mazda MAZDA3 S Long-Term Road Test

We love driving our 2014 Mazda 3 s Grand Touring, but not on Los Angeles freeways. The ride and tire noise taint our otherwise glowing reviews.

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  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    This wouldn't have anything to do with the horrible tires Mazda puts on all Mazda 3s, would it? I think these ones with the 18s come with Dunlop SP Sport 5000s, which on Tire Rack are rated 28th out of 28 tires in their class - ride comfort was rated 6.5 out of 10, noise comfort 6.3. Mazda always does such a great job with ride/handling compromise, but then unless you get a Mazdaspeed model they always come with crappy tires - look at the remarks on the LT 2013 Mazda 3 Edmunds had...same thing.
  • misterfusionmisterfusion Member Posts: 471
    @fordson, I believe you when you say the tires are terrible, but Mazdas have always been tuned a little firm. That can be rewarding to the driver on well-groomed roads, or cause your teeth to rattle in L.A. Any suspension firmness is amplified into ride
  • cotakcotak Member Posts: 89
    I have a mazdaspeed 3 2nd gen. And no it's not the tires it's the cars and how Mazda tunes them.

    There's a reason why North American cars gets laughed at in Europe. Cause cars here tends to be mushy soft by Euro standards. And there's a good reason why. Some roads here European cars designers have never imagined.

    Last summer I drove from Toronto to Tobermory (nice little place well worth going if anyone's up here) and it was a brutal slog with the speed 3 suspension and the regular cracks etc in the rural roads. That's the one moment I wished I had a floaty yanktank.

    So no it's not the tires. Roads in this parts of the world just isn't for tuning like this.
  • fordson1fordson1 Unconfirmed Posts: 1,512
    I know how Mazda tunes them, but the best tires in this class are getting over 9 out of 10 for ride and noise level, and it DOES make a difference, and if you have made a conscious decision to tune the car firmly and then you compound that by choosing the nosiest and hardest-riding tires as OEM equipment...that's dumb.
  • s197gts197gt Member Posts: 486
    tires would certainly make some difference. however, in my experience, in the context/category of "ride comfort" the difference tires make most is in impact harshness. that is to say tires can absorb some of the smaller cracks and ridges in uneven pavement and maybe reduce some of the initial shock of small bumps in the road but larger bumps will always make their way to the suspension and the suspension will show its true colors.

    as my first new car was an '02 mazda protege5 (even then with the same poorly rated dunlops sports) i am very familiar with what chris is describing. the front to back bucking that i experienced on certain freeways was unbearable. tires can't compensate for the suspension geometry and damping/rebound rates mazda designs into these short wheelbase cars. the harsh suspension and lack of power were the reasons i traded it in.

    took my first short road trip with our new to us '11 CX-9 G.T. with the 20" wheels. the ride can be tiring on certain roads. thankfully the seats are pretty comfortable and it is a heavier vehicle with a long wheelbase so it is bearable but i can see why mazda (with their current suspension setups) will never be accepted by the masses. it's the first thing i say to people when they ask me what i think about it. certainly the sportiest driving of the 3-row mommy-mobiles but the ride is STIFF. yes, the OEM bridgestone h/l 400 tires are also very poorly rated. (though i don't think they are that bad.) i'll be swapping them out before next winter for the highly rated bridgestone h/l 422 ecopias.
  • actualsizeactualsize Member Posts: 451
    Another point or three: LA's segmented freeways are notorious for the freeway hop they can generate. You're typically going too slow to notice when commuting in traffic, but if you ever get in the clear late at night you can feel it quite distinctly. Open road long-haul freeways outside of the LA basin are much smoother around here. As for Tirerack ride ratings, they don't always apply so well to OE versions of tires because those specific part numbers are specifically tuned in terms of their internal construction to produce the ride/handling/noise balance that the automaker client is looking for. Tirerack ratings lump together all constructions that may exist under a given tire name, though, and that makes it impossible to pick out the Mazda3 OE version in their ratings. And that brings us around to Mazda's tuning taste. They intentionally go for the sportier end of the segment in which they compete. They tend to deliver a firmer ride, especially if you opt for the larger-diameter wheel with the short sidewall tire. The 20-inch tire on the CX-9 is indeed much less livable than the 18-in version, but you get forced into the dubs if you want the loaded Grand Touring. Again, that's Mazda's doing.

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  • zimtheinvaderzimtheinvader Member Posts: 580
    We had a Protege5 and the last set of tires we had on it were finally the right tires for it after 100,000 miles. With Mazda's suspension tuning the tires seem to make a much larger difference with them. The stock SP5000 tires were terrible. The next tires were a bit better, the next ones were a bit smoother and quieter but they increased the understeer to the point of being scary. Finally the DWSs we put on it at the end transformed it into a different car. It was suddenly multiple times better on long drives. Tires can't smooth out everything but on cars that are a bit high in the NVH area already they can make a very noticeable difference. But it gets expensive trying different ones as a tires someone with a big heavy car rates highly might not be as impressive on a small light car. So far with having had 3 Mazdas they are so much fun on back highways and a bit tiring on freeways. It all depends on where you typically drive and what your priorities are.
  • joner800joner800 Member Posts: 80
    road noise is one of the main reasons i ended my mazda6 lease early and got a 300. even better: try using the bluetooth phone at high speeds. not fun.
  • nutellaprnutellapr Member Posts: 5
    I can't say I'm sharing the same experience except for the transport transaxle I unfortunately ran over. The hatch I'm driving has wheel well insulation/covers and Dunlop sport all seasons. The ride is smooth. Cross wind noise however is quite harsh around the side view mirrors.
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