Got our test drive in yesterday evening. Drove the dealer's demo, a black Execuline (Canada's version of the SEL Premium) with all options. We basically got a 45 minute drive in (half me, half the wife) that took us well into dusk, but not total dark.
It was enough to decide that the headlights are going to be adequate to the job. She's still not thrilled with the whole concept of lights with distinct cut-offs, but since anything that doesn't use an <ugh> light bulb is going to have that is going to have that, she'll just have to get used to it. Overall coverage was slightly skewed to the right shoulder (as expected), but still quite adequate to the left (unlike the old Mazda3).
The high beams, on the other hand, are very adequate. Pretty impressive.
I don't understand why car makers have models with every single light on it an LED ... except the fog lights, which are crappy halogen. That just seems weird to me, and the one thing we'll swap out.
We both really liked the "feel" of driving it. Steering is very tight and sporty, very quiet inside and overall a really nice road feel that an average driver would like. I don't claim to be an expert on "driving feel", and we're not taking it on a track or anything. But I know what I like, and this ... I like. :-)
With three adults in the car, it had no problem getting up to highway speed in a prompt manner. Very capable.
Couple of random quick observations from the 45 minutes we got in it...
- With me in the passenger seat (6'2") and the sales dude in the back (5'10" or so), we both had plenty of leg room. When I drove, I didn't have to push the drivers seat all the way back to get comfortable.
- Headroom was slightly lacking, but I didn't bash my head on the ceiling or anything. That's the price you pay for the sunroof. I found it tolerable, but anybody taller than me might not.
- Trunk space seemed larger than the Mazda 3, but they always seem bigger when empty. :-)
- The side mirrors are quite small. That's the first thing we both noticed. The blind-spot detection mitigates that somewhat, but it's going to take a bit of fiddling to find the sweet spot. People accustomed to mirrors that have good side & rear coverage will have to get used to this.
- The control system looks a bit complicated. There's something like twelve buttons on the steering wheel with all manner of hieroglyphic on them. A nerd like myself won't have any trouble, but my wife will probably find the one or two she needs and ignore the rest. The radio also has a fair number of buttons on the sides, but they're labeled. We didn't play much with the system, but there seems to be a lot of "stuff" to be played with. :-)
- One weirdness: the Mazda 3 had a Mute button, which the wife used a lot. This doesn't (and they're pretty rare in other cars too), or it's well-hidden. But while playing she hit the power button on the radio. This turns off the entire infotainment system, including the electronic dash. No speedometer, no map, I think even the gas gauge disappeared. Total blank. I also couldn't readily determine if there's a dimmer for the display. It's a wee bit on the bright side, but not horrible. But some people may prefer it dimmer after dark (but not off).
Anyway, we signed the paperwork. Orange Execuline (SEL Premium) with auto trans, black leather and the driver assist package. There are two "at the dock yard" in Montreal, and we expect to snag one of them. With luck, we'll be driving it within 3 weeks. I should get that confirmed today. :-)