Review: Mazda wants you to think of them as a sports car vendor.
Picture the little two-seat Miata, the most popular sports car ever
made. More than half a million have been sold over the last 20 years,
and that sounds like an old McDonalds sign. Or consider the legendary
RX-7 with its rotary engine. And how about the unique four-seat RX-8?
Granted, these are not big sellers on a yearly basis, but it all adds
The MAZDASPEED3 though,
is more of a 21st-century GTO, lots of power in a compact body. The
restyled 2010 model employs the same method for power as the previous
generation car, turbocharging and intercooling, to pull 263 horsepower
and 280 lb.-ft. of torque out of just 2.3 liters of displacement to move
a 3,245-pound car. The ordinary Mazda3 five-door, no slouch, makes do
with “only” 167 horsepower and 168 lb.-ft., to move 250 fewer pounds.
When you step on the
gas, the car jumps forward with minimal turbo lag. And with this car,
you can see the boost on a handy LED gauge mounted directly in front of
you. Most turbocharged cars dispense with that today, but it’s fun to
see it move.
Among the numerous
advances in the new 2010 model is revised gear ratios, spaced further
apart to make better use of the engine’s prodigious torque. I didn’t
compare the old car with this one side by side, but you definitely know
you’re not driving any ordinary vehicle.
The Mazda3 is a volume
seller for the brand, so the 148-horsepower four-door sedan is offered
for the budget minded. The five-door, as a mini-wagon, is much more
useful, with seats that drop and a hatchback door that pops up to
swallow what you’ve got to move. My big upright bass fit right in, as
did loads of groceries.
Despite its practical
nature, the new MAZDASPEED3 looks ferocious, from its grinning face to
its rear-mounted basket-handle wing. It gets a load of special features
to distinguish it from its pedestrian siblings. The nose flaunts an air
dam and round fog lamps with a sinister black grille. You have to watch
those curbs and cement parking stops, though. The hood wears a working
air scoop for the intercooler. The front fenders bulge to accommodate
wider high-performance wheels and tires.
Sculpted side skirts
and a lowered stance show off those wheels, which are modeled on the
forged 19-inchers from the RX-8 and feature five “Vs” that culminate in
10 shiny spokes at the rim. In back, a black valance panel mimics the
Inside, black is also
the dominant theme, an industry wide convention for “sporty.” Red
accents abound, in the seat and door fabrics and in the stitching that
graces the steering wheel, shift lever boot, seats, door trim and center
armrest. Metal pedals and MAZDASPEED logos clue you in to the car’s
And man, those seats
really grip you with deep bolsters. You don’t want to be sliding around
when you go out to play.
Unless you really lead
foot it, you can expect decent fuel economy. I got 24.0 mpg, while the
EPA offers up 18 City, 25 Highway, on premium fuel. The EPA Green
Vehicle Guide rates the car as a 7 for Air Pollution and a 5 for
Greenhouse Gas, a little better than average.
Lots of small but
significant changes make the 2010 model an all-around better and more
fun-to-drive car. The engineers, feeling that power was sufficient,
increased structural rigidity, using thicker and higher-strength steel
in crucial areas. The extra stiffness let them install a firmer
suspension without sacrificing ride comfort. They improved steering feel
by adding additional support for the steering rack and changing from a
hydraulic steering pump to an electric motor.
The MAZDASPEED3 comes
with the stuff that enthusiast drivers want, but the product developers
tried to keep the weight down by avoiding some items, such as a moonroof.
If you really want to upgrade the car, the Tech Package delivers a
242-watt, 10-speaker surround sound system, a navigation system,
pushbutton start and keyless entry.
My Velocity Red Mica
test car had this $1,895 package. The navigation system controls are on
the steering wheel, so only the driver can set them, not the passenger,
but you’re supposed to do that while parked anyway. The color screen in
the upper dash is useful, but the smallest I’ve ever seen.
The list price for the
MAZDASPEED3 is $23,195. Adding the tech package and delivery charges,
mine came to $25,840. That’s comparable, even favorable, compared to
competitors like the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Evolution.
performance, high quality and reliability, decent economy and plenty of
style, so with this MAZDASPEED3, what’s not to like?
By Steve Schaefer ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
The Bottom Line:
The 2010 MAZDASPEED3 is a proven performance and fun driving package for
the price. For around $25,000 you can have a sporty sedan that tracks
like its on rails. Plus the turbocharger, spoke alloys wheels and 263
horsepower add up to a great buy all around. And the clean bodylines
sporting a front air dam, functional hood scoop and a tall rear spoiler
let everyone know from a distance that this car is special.
Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
The 2010 MAZDASPEED3
Review provided by:
Tony Leopardo ©
AutoWire.Net. “Tony the Car Guy” is an automotive writer, editor
and publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have a question or
comment for Tony send it to
TonyLeo@pacbell.net or visit AutoWire.Net at
www.autowire.net - And remember: “ You Are What You Drive ”
Mazda Home Page
Column Name: Everyone
knows from a distance that this car is special
Topic: The 2010
Word Count: 990
Photo Caption: The
MAZDASPEED3 Internet Media
Series #: 2010 - 29
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