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Mindful over Memorial Day; Touring the Mazda 3

Spending the Memorial Day Holiday shuttling back and forth to the beach is a tradition in the Lowcountry. The arrival of Tropical Storm Alberto kept some in suspense as to when the deluge of rain would washout any of that cherished cookout time. The blowing wind and rain hit hard on Sunday afternoon, but thankfully the first half of the holiday was sunny and pleasant. Patriotic displays with American flags keeps everyone mindful of the sacrifices that inspire the holiday, while we celebrate the freedom to gather together and to enjoy our favorite past times.

Test driving a sleek car like the 2018 Mazda 3 GT over the holiday weekend allowed me to pursue the freedom of driving since this hatchback zips and hugs the roads that lead to the beach. The Mazda 3 does sit low, but getting in and out of the car doesn’t seem to be an issue, and when seated I have a clear view out of all windows. The 2.5-Liter 4-cylinder engine provides the speed while the G-vectoring steering system gives the driver lots of feel when turning the wheel. This car has lots of innovative safety features like the pop-up display on top of the dash that allows the driver to view what speed limit zone they are in along with their current speed.

I didn’t need to make use of the heated seats over Memorial Day, but for the first day or two I was glad to open the moon roof and let the salt air flow through. Power windows and a satellite radio cam be a wonderful combination for those who like to listen to beach music. The hatchback swallowed up my gear including two beach chairs, two sun umbrellas, a wind-stopper tent and a metal detector. The back seat was roomy enough to handle a soft-sided cooler and a couple of beach bags with more room to spare when making a quick stop at the grocery store.

There is a touch screen in the middle of the dash but what’s neat is that everything can also be controlled by a multifunction commander control, also commonly known as a joystick. I have seen this control function on modern luxury cars, but the Mazda 3 GT has lots of similar convenient options, keeping this vehicle price tag at $28K, which is a little higher than the base model. One drawback is that the cell phone charging plug sits behind the joystick and the cellphone resting area is in front of the joystick, which makes my charging cord clutter the joystick area just a bit.
Gas prices going up? The Mazda 3 is known to be frugal with fuel averaging 26 miles per gallon in town and 35 miles per gallon on the highway using Skyactiv technology. Most of the Mazda sedans and their SUV crossover CX vehicles have a long time reputation as being cost-efficient regarding fuel and service visits too. The smart brake assist, radar cruise control, blind spot monitoring and traffic sign recognition features should help to reduce chances for any worries like the kind of accidents that can happen suddenly. But it’s worth noting that the Mazda 3 carries a 5-star crash rating.

When the rains did come I found the Mazda 3 did not lose any performance handling on wet roads and the rain-activated windshield wipers ran smooth. The adaptive front-lighting system and high beam control worked well at night and during the periods of rain. An optional sport mode increases the throaty sound of the exhaust and locked the car down just a bit whenever ready.
While the rain didn’t hold up any driving errands over the holiday, it sure did dampen beach activities. Not knowing when a soaking rain would fall, or a more subtle amount, really kept folks guessing. Cooking out underneath a house on stilts seemed to be the best bet for the iffy weather on Sunday and Monday. Small craft advisories went up on Sunday, grounding all boating and sailing plans for Monday.

Factoring in the full moon on Tuesday May 29 with tropical storm tidal surges and rough seas, its possible that sea turtle nesting could be impacted. Sea Island turtle patrols can’t locate crawl tracks that are wiped away by Mother Nature as soon as they are made. But the life history of loggerhead sea turtle shows they can navigate hurricane seasons over the long haul and 2018 shouldn’t be any different. Nesting conditions on the beach should be much more benign by the first weekend in June, heading into the dog days of summer.

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (359 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com