Two Mazdas. Three, actually.

Yesterday Alice and I test drove two cars.  They were both stick-shift Mazda3 models, but they couldn't have been more different.  Or more different from the Mazda3 I already own.

We're looking to trade in Alice's Nissan 350Z (Esmerelda, aka the Bluebird of Happiness, aka the Barbiemobile).  On Friday she went to a dealer to test drive a Miata, but the car was sold - to someone in Minnesota - while she was driving there.  Miatas are hard to find these days.  But there was a loaded stick-shift Mazda3 on the lot, and knowing how much I like mine, she test drove it.  Why?  It isn't the car she wants long-term, but it would bring our costs down and eventually become my car when she does find what she wants.
That's how we found the first 3.  We went back together Saturday to drive it together.  This car was a 2010 sedan like the photo above, with every option they offer:  dual zone climate control, nav, heated leather, everything.  They redesigned the car in 2010, giving it a really goofy grille, but this car is dark gray so it's not obnoxious.  I loved it, and I'd be thrilled to have it as my daily driver.  But Alice felt conflicted.  Its suspension and power just didn't measure up to the 350Z.  So we walked away.

We walked next door, to an actual Mazda dealership.  Our hope was that they would at least have a new Miata that we could test drive.  And--I shouldn't have been surprised--they didn't.  But they did have a Mazdaspeed3.  This was a 2009 hatchback, pre-redesign, a much better looking car in candy-apple red.  Alice drove it and loved the suspension and extra power, but it didn't have any of the luxury features the other car did.  If what we bought was eventually going to be my car, the speed3 didn't suit me as much as the 2010, because honestly I don't care about power.  And the salesman's starting point of price negotiation was several thousand more than the other car.  Almost the sticker price of a new one.  We felt insulted.

That's our dilemma.  The 2010 has luxury and up-to-date technology throughout, and it's cheaper.  The 2009 has all the sporty character Alice wants.  The thing is, the speed3 is a boy-toy.  Driving a red hatchback wouldn't project the image she wants, so eventually it would be my car, and I'd rather have the other one.  So on Monday we're going to go back for the 2010 car.  She won't mind driving it for a while, and we'll have more time to find that elusive affordable sporty car.