New Car Thoughts

Just to annoy Brickroad, who is not as interested in the subject of my new car as I am, here’s some thoughts on said new car. First, the negatives, such as they are.

No remote release for the hatchback. There is for the trunk on the sedan models. The hatch requires you to unlock all of the doors, get out of your seat, and press the release button on the hatch while simultaneously pulling the hatch upwards. I think this’ll just take a readjustment and before I know it I won’t miss the driver’s side release.

Width of the center console can be problematic. Specifically, right around the knee area. There’s a slight bulge around where you’d naturally want to rest your knee in cruise control, and it robs some room from you. Maybe this will be less problematic once I finish dialing the seat in how I like it.

The horn is weak. It does not sufficiently display my rage towards my fellow Route 128 maniacs. As a loudmouth jerk in Metro West, angrily tooting my displeasure is my right. This thing needs an upgradde.

The stock shifter knob is so-so. This is a personal preference more than anything. I still like to rest my hand on the shifter, and the knob is more oblong than round. Plus, it has a silver plastic section where your palm likes to rest. Why not wrap the whole knob in leather? I’d like to replace it with a T-style handle similar to a Hurst shifter of yore. It’ll work well with the sport shift mode, too.

Of course, these are minor niggles in the big scheme of things. Which is why I wanted them out of the way. How about some good things that I appreciate?

The gated shifter is done right. Each position of the shifter has a right angle movement, unlike some other shifters (cough, Toyota, cough). You still get one swift movement from Park to Drive and back again, but when you have to row inbetween reverse and drive you know exactly what gear you’re in thanks to tactile feedback.

You pull towards you to upshift in Manual mode. This seems backwards compared to what you might be used to, but it makes total sense if you consider that a ratchet shifter on a race car or drag car works in the exact same way. Pulling it towards you to upshift? It just feels better.

The wiper stalk is shorter than the steering wheel. Thank God Mazda did this. Most cars nowadays have two stalks because the wiper and light controls have gotten so complicated. The left stalk is usually the lights, and the right is the wiper controls. On a Toyota I drove recently, the wiper stalk was longer than the radius of the steering wheel, so as you moved your hands across the wheel you would wind up whacking the wiper stalk, making you look like a dork. Thankfully, the wiper stalk on the 3 is about an inch shorter than the radius of the steering wheel, so no accidental thwacks will happen.

Automatic rear defrosting? There seems to be some cases where the rear window defroster will automatically engage. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I noticed that it did turn on by itself on a drive yesterday. That’s helpful – one less thing to worry about in some conditions.

Hands-free bluetooth works as advertised. Even if you don’t have the address book programmed entirely, it’s not painful. Setting it up is easy, and you’ll be voice dialing before you know it. I wouldn’t have ordered this option specifically, but since it comes standard on the hatchbacks, I guess I appreciate it. I’m not one to talk on the phone while driving anyway, but it’s nice to know it’s there. You can also stream audio on a supported phone, which my first-gen iPhone is not.

Phone and radio have separate volume levels. Thank god. You can crank your music and when someone calls, their voice on the radio is a more reasonable level.

I think that’ sall for now. You’ll get more later.

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