Reality Versus Fantasy

I have been having this moral dilemma lately. I keep looking up pictures of models on the internet and thinking to myself, I just gotta have one. The beautiful curves, sleek and sexy. The way the light in the photographs dances off unblemished surfaces, making a glow that almost speaks to you in small, little tantalizing phrases. You think about what it would be like to grab hold and just... go.

But then I see another picture. And another. And another, until finally I just become so desensitized to them and one model just starts looking like another. The problem is it is all fantasy. There is no reality to these wants. I am too sensible, too conservative to go beyond the daydream. Or am I? I think to myself, what if I did? What if I just jumped in with both feet? Threw caution to the wind? Laid all my chips on the table? What would my wife think?

Well, in truth, my wife would kill me if I ever plunked down the sorta cash it would take to buy myself one of these babies. Buy one you say? You can buy a model? Yep, sure can. Of course, I am talking about the Lexus IS F, the Nissan GT-R, and the Infiniti G37. OH! You thought...? Oh, well, come on man, this site is PG-13 at worst. (Get your head out of the gutter.)

So, with all that fantasizing about luxury sports sedans and coupes, I had to get back to reality. Sure, I love those models I mentioned, but the reality of the situation is I am not about to plunk down 70 G's or more to live out my fantasy. Heck, I do not even want to go the "cheap" route- the G37- and drop $35K. So what's a man to do?

Well, I just caught site of Mazda's re-do for the 2010 Mazda3. And while it is not in the class of those luxury models I mentioned above, it's no "cheap thrill" either. By that I mean it is not some flimsy, economy car, but rather it is a sweet looking ride with a low price tag. No, you don't get 200+hp. No, you do not get AWD. And you certainly do not get the, cough, "prestige" of a luxury label.

But if looks are your thing, saving your pennies are your thing, and looking proudly at a Lexus or Infiniti owner when you paid half what they did for, essentially, 4 wheels and a comfy seat, then maybe, just maybe the Mazda3 for 2010 is for you. And it gets over 20mpg- for my daily commute, that makes it gold. Let's look at what this little beauty does have (courtesy of MotorAuthority.com):

The new Mazda3 will initially be launched with two new engines, a 148hp 2.0L four-cylinder with 135lb-ft of torque and a 167hp 2.5L unit with 168lb-ft of torque. Both engines employ advanced electronic throttle actuation. Mazda’s exclusive torque base control technology provides a highly linear acceleration response to every change of throttle pedal pressure.

Some premium features of the car not normally found in this segment include optional self-leveling bi-xenon headlamps, a multi-function display, satnav, electronically adjustable seats with memory functions, an ambient lighting system, dual-zone air conditioning, a 10-speaker Bose stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, iPod connection and Sirius satellite radio. Other options include rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors, leather upholstery, and heated seats.

So, luxury features in a value vehicle. Wow, a car company actually took notice of its potential buyers and realized there's a shift in perceived value these days (hello economic downturn). Now, the best part- early indicators are showing only moderate price increases- figure around $17,000 for a well-equipped 3i, heading up to close to $25,000 for a fully loaded "3s Grand Touring" (courtesy, Automobile Magazine). And here's Mazda's full press release from its launch around the L.A. Auto Show.

If you ask me, reality just trumped those models from my fantasy.

Take away the manufacturer's emlbem and name. Does this car look like a player to you? Damn straight.

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