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2010 Mazdaspeed3 Review

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SEE ALSO: Mazda Buyers Guide

"The Mazdaspeed3 Sport offers serious power in a small package"


SPECIFICATIONS: 2010 Mazdaspeed3 Sport

Model: 2010 Mazdaspeed3 Sport
Engine: 2.3-liter turbocharged 4
Horsepower/Torque: 263 hp @ 5,500 rpm/280 lb.-ft. @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 103.9 in.
Length/Width/Height: 177.6 x 69.7 x 57.5 in.
Tires: P225/40R18
Cargo volume: 17.0/42.8 cu. ft. (rear seat backs up/down)
Fuel economy: 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway/22.3 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 15.9 gal.
Curb weight: 3,245 lbs.
Sticker: $23,195 (includes $750 delivery, processing and handling fee plus $1,895 in options)
The Bottom Line: Despite the fact that the Mazdaspeed3 is designed to appeal to a different demographic than the one I inhabit, it remains a fun small car with decent economy. The turbocharged 4 is sometimes too powerful and exhibits long-forgotten torque steer at times.

The Mazda3 is a good small family car that can fit two child seats in the back. The base 3 comes with a 2.0-liter inline four that develops 148 horsepower.

Change it to a Mazdaspeed3 and you get a 2.3-liter turbocharged four that delivers a healthy 263 hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. This is serious power in a small car. In some cases, it's too serious.

For example, the sport3 can sometimes exhibit torque steer on hard acceleration. This is the tendency for the engine to take over and want to turn the car just as you're tromping down on the loud pedal. It can be disconcerting.

I liked the 6-speed manual transmission. It was relatively easy to use without too much gear gnashing on my part. the gears are well-chosen, but I still kept it in fourth most of the time for most local driving.

Also converting the 3 into a speed3 brings you a unique "speed" seat pattern with red piping on the cloth and leather seats. It's a subtle design, but nice.

Ride quality is good for a small car. I expected a harsh suspension because of the "speed" designation, but was pleasantly pleased with the ride quality.

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Styling of the Mazdasport3 is very much in the Mazda mode. It looks almost RX8-ish, with a smiling front fascia. The only thing missing is the brake exhaust coolers behind the front wheels. A rear spoiler gives some definition to the car's shape.

The front seats offer very good side support, what you'd expect in a "sport" model. Legroom is tight in the rear, but there's a flat floor so a smallish person can fit in the middle. The outboard seats in the back offer some side support. There's also good visibility in the rear so you don't get claustrophobic. A pair of triangular-shaped quarter windows really help.

Behind the rear seats is a very good cargo area for a small car. In addition, there's a useful shade to keep prying eyes from what may be back there. The hatchback makes access to the rear easier. I couldn't find an inside release for the hatch, though.

Economy is very good for a hot car, with 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 22.3 mpg test. However, the fuel filler cap is on the passenger side (driver's side in Japan), with the inside release on the driver's floor.

Enter the Mazdasport3 and blue footwell lights guide your way.

The instrument panel consists of two large gauges for the tachometer and speedometer. There are audio and HVAC details on top of the dash in a nacelle. The SIRIUS readout that's informative is on a screen to the left of this nacelle.

The Mazdaspeed3 has plenty of power when you need it, but the thrill of this power surge is mitigated by torque steer. It's easy to learn how to handle it, but the first time it hits you it comes as a surprise.

Overall, the Mazdaspeed3 is a nice package. I'm not sure if the turbo is necessary for most drivers, although I'm sure it's extremely important to the younger set.

2010 The Auto Page Syndicate