May 19, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 11:17
The 2010 Mazdaspeed3 is tailored for the driver who wants it all — functionality, reliability, economical performance, and loads of fun. This redesigned model serves up all four in copious quantities.The performance version of the popular compact hatchback Mazda3, the Mazdaspeed3 seats five, has 17 cubic feet of luggage capacity that can be expanded to 43 cubic feet by lowering the back seat, gets as much as 25 mpg on the highway, earned five-star ratings in government crash tests in every category except rear-seat crash protection and rollover resistance, and has gotten top scores for reliability from Consumer Reports magazine readers in recent years. That’s the prosaic case for the Mazdaspeed3. Aside from the required premium gasoline and overall fuel economy that’s 8 mpg less than the base Mazda3, and the higher price (about $8,000 more), the Mazdaspeed3 is fundamentally a sober automotive choice.
There’s plenty of competition in this sector, as Chevrolet, Mitsubishi, Subaru and others transform their conventional compact sedans and hatchbacks into performance machines. For Northeastern drivers who value the all-weather sure-footedness of all-wheel drive, the pocket-rockets of choice are the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Evolution. All Mazda3s come with front-wheel drive; the Mazdaspeed3 does have a limited-slip differential and traction control.
The Mazdaspeed3 is a bargain at a list price of $23,195 when you consider that moving up from this level of performance and refinement is wildly expensive, typically involving a trip to the nearest BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi dealership. Even the WRX costs about $2,000 more than the base Mazdaspeed3, and it is available only as a sedan.
The heart of the Mazdaspeed3 is a 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that puts out 263 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. High-powered cars with front-wheel drive often suffer from torque steer, as the wheels pull at cross purposes to the driver’s steering inputs during hard acceleration and cornering. Among other suspension improvements, Mazda has added electronics to thwart this tendency automatically.
On the road, the Mazdaspeed3 serves up a nice blend of comfort and driving excitement. The 6-speed shifter and clutch are quick and responsive, power delivery is smooth and consistent, and the ride is firm and stable, yet not uncomfortable in ordinary highway driving.
The previous Mazda3 had a horizontal look when viewed from the side; the new model sweeps up toward the rear, and also has a functional hood scoop to add to the image as well as the reality of high performance.
Tall drivers would prefer more legroom, or at least a power-adjustable seat. But power seats are unavailable on all Mazda3 models. Our other complaint concerned the gauge display. Our tallest driver couldn’t see the turn-signal or bright-light indicators with the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel in its optimum setting. We much prefer Nissan’s design, in which the gauges tilt with the wheel so they remain visible in all positions.
Fast yet functional, the Mazdaspeed3 is the affordable choice for drivers who demand extraordinary performance.
Engine: 2.3-liter turbocharged inline Four, 263 horsepower, 280 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Weight: 3,245 lb.
Suspension: Four-wheel independent, MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 18x7.5-inch alloy
Tires: P225/40R18 93Y performance
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 17 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 43 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 15.9 gallons
Fuel economy: 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway
Fuel type: Premium
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