2011 MAZDASPEED3 New Car Test Drive
The 2010 Mazda 3 is a premium car in a compact package. The Mazda3 is available as a four-door sedan or four-door hatchback, and offers comfort and luxury features we're not used to seeing in a small car.
The Mazda3 has been reengineered for the 2010 model year. It gets new styling inside and out, a larger, more powerful engine, new transmissions, and even more luxury and technology amenities than the generous helping it offered before. It hasn't been completely redesigned, however. It keeps the same basic architecture, with some upgrades. Introduced for the 2004 model year, Mazda calls the 2010 Mazda3 an evolution, not a revolution of the previous model. Built on a Volvo platform, the previous Mazda3 was a sales and critical success for Mazda. With that in mind, Mazda hasn't radically changed anything on its sales leader. Instead, the company set out to make incremental improvements.
Inside, the Mazda3 adds Bluetooth cell phone connectivity, a Bose Centerpoint surround system, and an available Multi-Information Display that adds a second level of information. The interior is first-class interior with lots of other available amenities. Higher line models get a Multi-Information Display below the windshield that houses readouts for the vehicle information center, climate system, radio presets, and even the available navigation system. A unique cluster of buttons on the steering wheel controls these functions. The readouts are easy to see and the steering wheel controls work intuitively. It's a pretty trick setup. The other controls are mounted high on the dash's center stack, and are also easy to see and use.
The Mazda3 is practical, with useful small items storage up front, as well as plenty of room for the front passengers. The back seat will fit two adults fairly comfortably, provided the front occupants aren't too tall. In both the sedan and hatchback, the rear seats fold 60/40 to create a mostly flat load floor. Flip the back seats down in the hatchback and you'll have lots of cargo room. With its sportier character, better looks, and more useful interior space, the hatch is our choice between the two body styles.
The 2010 Mazda3 benefits from several architectural enhancements designed to make the structure stiffer. The result is a sporty car that feels firm and composed on the road, with moderate lean in turns. The steering is sharp and precise, and the brakes provide a linear pedal feel. The suspension deals well with most bumps, though large ruts can pound through with the available 17-inch wheels.
Two engines are offered. The base engine is a 148-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder that provides adequate power for most needs. Fuel conscious buyers will want this engine, as it delivers EPA fuel economy as high as 25 mpg City/33 mpg Highway. Those who prefer a sportier driving experience will want the new 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which delivers 167 horsepower and is available with a smooth-shifting six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic with manual shift capability.
Mazda rightly points out that in many countries a compact car is a destination rather than starting point for car owners, and that's partly due to fuel costs. The Mazda 3 is an affordable car that offers a pleasant interior environment, sporty handling, and useful space.
The Mazda3 comes in four-door sedan and four-door hatchback body styles, two model ranges, and an array of trim levels. Sedans are offered as 2.0-liter i and 2.5-liter s models, while hatchbacks are only offered as s models. Sedan trim levels include Mazda 3i SV, i Sport, i Touring, s Sport, and s Grand Touring. Hatchbacks are offered in s Sport and s Grand Touring trim. (The MazdaSpeed3 is expected to return later in the model year, probably as a hatchback.)
Mazda 3i models come with a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Mazda 3s models trade a 156-hp, 2.3-liter four-cylinder for a new 167-hp, 2.5-liter four. Mazda 3i models are offered with a five-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic with manual shift capability; s models get the five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual.
The base-level Mazda 3i SV ($15,045) comes with cloth upholstery, power mirrors, power windows, reclining front bucket seats, tilt/telescoping steering column, 60/40 split folding rear seat, AM/FM/CD stereo with four speakers, auxiliary audio input jack, and P205/55R16 tires on steel wheels. It is offered only with a manual transmission. The Mazda 3i Sport ($15,975) adds air conditioning, an outside temperature display and an available automatic transmission.
The Mazda 3i Touring model ($17,500) adds power door locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control, two additional speakers, a Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link, steering wheel audio and Bluetooth controls, traction control, electronic stability control, and alloy wheels.
The Mazda 3s Sport sedan ($18,470) and hatchback ($19,230) models get a unique front fascia, sport seats, electroluminescent gauges, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, front center console, Mazda's new Multi-Information Display, an iPod adapter, fog lights, rear lip spoiler, and P205/50R17 tires. The s Grand Touring ($21,500 for both body styles) adds dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, leather upholstery, eight-way power driver's seat with memory, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, LED taillights, and heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals.
The Mazdaspeed3 comes with a 263-hp turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-4, six-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential, sport seats with special red and black cloth interior trim.
Options include pearl paint ($200). The Moonroof, 6CD and Bose package ($1395) includes a 10-speaker, 242-watt Bose Centerpoint surround sound system. The Technology package ($1195) comes with a navigation system, a full-color version of the Multi-Information Display, Sirius satellite radio with a six-month subscription, keyless access and starting, and a perimeter alarm.
Safety features standard on all Mazda3 models include dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, active front head restraints, tire-pressure monitor, and anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. As mentioned above, traction control and electronic stability control are standard on the Mazda 3i Touring and all s models.