New Car Reviews

2010 Mazda3 s Sport 5-Door – Four Seasons Update – October 2009

Long-Term 2010 Mazda MAZDA3 Update: Fall 2009 Array Miles to date: 0

In our first couple months with the 3, we’ve lavished praise on the smallest Mazda for its class-leading composure and refinement. After a fourteen-hour flight from Tokyo to Michigan, assistant editor David Zenlea was grateful to find the 3 waiting for him at the airport. In a “semicomatose state,” he was still able to appreciate the 3’s capabilities. “With smooth yet quick responses, the Mazda 3 strikes a smart balance between an enthusiast’s car and an easygoing daily driver,” he noted.

Obviously, the driver’s seat is the best place to be: a recent back seat passenger complained that the cabin was excessively noisy. On a separate trip, an editor chauffeured two marathoners 200 miles back home just hours after their race. The front passenger seat had to be carefully positioned to maximize rear seat legroom and yet still offer comfort to the front seat rider. While space was tighter than their throbbing legs might have liked, neither runner delivered a complaint during the entire trip.

So far, our Mazda 3 is living up to its EPA fuel economy ratings of 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. During a couple hundred miles of mixed-condition driving, copy editor Rusty Blackwell saw an average of 26 mpg, beating the 3’s combined rating by 2 mpg. Still, Blackwell thinks the Mazda could do better with taller fifth and sixth gears. “It seems natural that a compact car like this, even with the sportier 2.5-liter engine, should be able to crack 30 mpg in EPA tests,” he wrote.

Several staffers have found the 3’s clutch, which engages near the top of its travel, difficult to get used to. Others have grown accustomed to it. Interestingly, a Mazdaspeed3 recently passed through the office, and it’s much more user-friendly clutch garnered several comments.

With seat time in both our civilized Four Seasons 3 and the wheel-spinning, turbocharged Mazdaspeed, our testers had strong opinions about which car they preferred, but there was no single office opinion. Those who favored the comfortable, refined 3 Sport universally despised the rampant torque steer of the ‘Speed3. To those who subscribe to a speed-at-all-costs lifestyle, the torque steer is just a small price tag for the performance. Regardless of which 3 they favor, the staff only has one to pick from now; the Mazdaspeed is gone and we’ll be spending the next nine months with our 3. It’s doubtful we’ll hear any complaints about that.

2010 Mazda3 s Sport 5-Door

Base price (with destination): $19,900
Price as tested: $22,570

Body Style: 4-door hatchback
Accommodation: 5-passenger
Construction: Steel unibody

Size: DOHC 16-valve I-4
Displacement: 2.5 liters
Power: 167 hp @6000 rpm
Torque: 168 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Drive: front-wheel
Fuel economy: 21 / 29 / 24 mpg (city/hwy/combined)

Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns lock-to-lock: 2.9
Turning Circle: 35.8 ft
Suspension, Front: Strut-type, coil springs
Suspension, Rear: Multilink, coil springs
Brakes F/R: Vented disc/disc, ABS
Wheels: 17 x 6.5 in
Tires: Yokohama Avid S34
Tire Size: P205/50-R17

Headroom F/R: 38.1/37.4 in
Legroom F/R: 42.0/36.2 in
Shoulder Room F/R: 54.9/54.0 in
Wheelbase: 103.9 in
Track F/R: 60.2/59.6 in
L x W x H: 177.4 x 69.1 x 57.9 in
Cargo Capacity: 17.0 cu ft
Weight: 3005 lbs
Weight Dist. F/R: 60/40%
Fuel Capacity: 15.9 gal
Est. Range: 382 miles
Fuel Grade: 87 octane

Standard Equipment
Front, side, and side curtain airbags
Push-button ignition with intelligent key
Power windows, locks, and mirrors
Auxiliary audio input
Tire-pressure monitoring system

Moonroof/Bose Package $1395
-242 watt Bose Centerpoint 10-speaker surround sound
-Moonroof with one-touch open
-In-dash 6-disc CD changer
Technology Package $1195
-Color display with compact nav-screen
-Advanced keyless system with push-button start
-Sirius satellite radio with 6-month subscription