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A coworker of mine just bought a new Mazda3 sedan with the 2.3L DOHC engine in it, and took me for a drive. Since this engine is comparable to the Solstice’s upcoming 2.4L DOHC motor in size and power, and the Mazda3 is not that far off of the Sol in weight, I thought I would share my impressions.

First, the official stats

Curb weight of the base Mazda3 is 2762. His is probably a little higher since the car has a long list of options, power items, sunroof, 17” rims, etc. So its likely to be in the 2800-2900 range. The engine is rated at 160 HP @ 6000 RPMS, and 150 Lb-Ft @ 4500 RPM. The car has a 4-speed auto transmission, and mileage is 24/29 (EPA).

My impressions: The car surprised me on how quick it actually felt. I have owned Mazda 4 banger equipped cars in the past, particularly a 1991 Ford Probe (2.2L SOHC) and a 1997 Ford Probe (2.0L DOHC). This car would leave either of those in the weeds. Low end torque is a little low, as it takes a second for the power to really come on from a stop, but its not turbo-lag bad. It may be related to the autobox too, and not the engine. The engine seems to have a fairly flat powerband as delivery is quite linear. The power delivery is also smooth, with some noise but no bad vibrations from under the hood.

Stepping on the gas from a roll and the car really takes off. I have a feeling this car is faster than my V6 Fiero too. That’s just a seat of the pants evaluation of course. It doesn’t jump off the line as the Fiero does, but the power stays on into the high RPM range where the Fiero has long since run out of breath.

The car is quick. Were not talking Mustang fast, but there is easily enough power under the hood to be a lot of fun on an open road. There is a little more body roll than I would want in a real sporty car, but it is also a sedan tuned more for comfort.

At any rate, the drive in this car made me feel good about the base Solstice engine. The Sol will have more power (17 HP and 16 Lb-Ft of torque) to propel a car that is very close in weight. Its not stoplight racer power, but it certainly does not feel slow or sluggish by any means.

As chance would have it, this 3 also was equipped with a set of Goodyear Eagle RS-A’s. I didn’t ring the car out hard enough to really test these tires, but I asked by coworker what he thought. He said that they stick to the road very well. He is happy with their performance in that regard and doesn’t feel he would need to step up to a more serious performance tire. However, he also felt that they are a little loud. He’d prefer a bit less road noise from them.

All in all, I thought it was a really fun and nice car. It makes me wish that Mazda or Ford still made a FWD sports coupe like the Probe. If this engine was in a car like the Probe, with less body roll than the 3 has, it would be great fun to drive!

Mazda should definitely put this engine into the Miata.
 

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That's pretty cool. What's really odd though is I was contemplating kinda doing what you did this morning on my way to work. I was driving behind a black Mazda3, and thought it might be a good idea to go test drive the 2.0L model to get an idea how the engine would be with the new NC. I hadn't thought about comparing the 2.3L vs the ECOTEC though, that was a great idea.

Is there a discernable difference so that you can tell when the 2.3L is on it's VVT implementation, or is it fairly seemless? That's the problem with the crappy ZETEC engine in my ZX2 is until you've hit the right RPM range the car is really gutless. Then it finally gets it's umph above 3750 RPM.
 

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Let me put it this way. I didn't notice a discernable point where the engine seemed to make a dramatic change in its power deliver. Lower RPM power seemed a little short, and it definately felt like the power was building as the RPM's climbed. However, it wasn't peaky at all, and felt very linear in how the power built.
 

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I've had several chances to drive my son's Honda Civic si and it is one fun little car. Its 2.0 16 valve engine only puts out 160 hp/a32 lb-ft torque and test reports put it at 0-60 7.9 sec and 16.0 @ 87 mph 1/4 mile. It feels faster! I can chirp the tires in 1st and 2nd but have not really hung it out over the edge. This is a 2750 lb FWD car with a base MSRP just over 19k, placing it close to the Sol. The seat-of-the-pants feel this car gives makes you think it is either much lighter or more powerful than it really is. 75 mph cruising comfort is there, too with enough oomph in reserve to pass. Much lighter steering than a Vibe GT without having to keep revs over 4000 for all shifts.
 

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Fformula88 said:
As chance would have it, this 3 also was equipped with a set of Goodyear Eagle RS-A’s. I didn’t ring the car out hard enough to really test these tires, but I asked by coworker what he thought. He said that they stick to the road very well. He is happy with their performance in that regard and doesn’t feel he would need to step up to a more serious performance tire. However, he also felt that they are a little loud. He’d prefer a bit less road noise from them.
I suspect many on here will have the same complaint, especially with the top down. These tires aren't bad, but yes... they are loud. It's been a vocal complaint by many I've run into with these tires stock on their cars.

Great to hear the news... I've always felt the Sol will "feel" faster than it appears on paper. Great thought on the comparison... never crossed my mind to do that.
 

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Since you mentioned the tire noise, I'm considering this still "on subject" :lol:

I did recall one thing from driving both the Miata, the MSM, AND the S2K - all of these cars (all ragtops) had a bunch of tire noise. Perhaps it's part of the "roadster character?"
 

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solsticeman said:
Since you mentioned the tire noise, I'm considering this still "on subject" :lol:

I did recall one thing from driving both the Miata, the MSM, AND the S2K - all of these cars (all ragtops) had a bunch of tire noise. Perhaps it's part of the "roadster character?"
I've seen this tire noise issue so many times, is it that there is no top on a roadster to dampen the noise, or that the tires are truly louder than a competitor, IOW, is this a convertible issue?
 

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RODEO said:
I've seen this tire noise issue so many times, is it that there is no top on a roadster to dampen the noise, or that the tires are truly louder than a competitor, IOW, is this a convertible issue?
I'm betting this is mainly a convertible issue. Because pretty much any convertible I've gotten in that has decent tires has made more noise then a car with a metal structure covering the top that deadens noise.
 

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solsticeman said:
Since you mentioned the tire noise, I'm considering this still "on subject" :lol:

I did recall one thing from driving both the Miata, the MSM, AND the S2K - all of these cars (all ragtops) had a bunch of tire noise. Perhaps it's part of the "roadster character?"
I’d buy that it was just a roadster issue, and comes with the territory, if they were not creating excessive noise in closed roof cars too. However, those RS-A’s are. If you can hear them inside a Mazda3 with the windows up and stereo on (although not on high so we could talk) then they will probably be very noticeable in a roadster. Even that is ok as long as it remains a background noise and doesn’t impair anyone’s ability to hear the stereo or carry on a conversation.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
solsticeman said:
I also recall the C5 'vette is not exactly quiet either...
The runflats on the C5's were often criticized for noise and harsh ride. Apparently the C6's next generation runflats are a bit better.

Besides, I bet I could make the tire noise go away in the C5. Just push that long, skinny pedal down all the way! :devil:
 
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