New Car Reviews

2010 Mazda3 S Sport 5-Door – Four Seasons Update – June 2010

Long-Term 2010 Mazda MAZDA3 Update: Summer 2010 ( 4 of 5 ) Miles to date: 0

As our Four Seasons Mazda 3 prepares to pull out of our garage one last time, the odometer has rolled over the 26,000-mile mark. During its twelve months with us, the Mazda 3 has shown faultless reliability and has aged gracefully. Other than regular maintenance stops at 7500-mile intervals, our red Mazda was always ready to go.

When our Mazda 3 arrived in June 2009, we had no hesitations in deeming it the best compact car you could buy. Since then, though, Volkswagen has released a new product that changes the landscape. “Has the benchmark for refinement and creature comforts in this segment shifted?” posed associate web producer Evan McCausland after a recent drive in the 3. “Absolutely, thanks in no small part to Volkswagen’s sixth-generation Golf. But the 3 is still a capable contender.” Senior web editor Phil Floraday expanded on that idea: “The cabin is a bit behind VW in terms of design and feel, but Mazda still offers a more premium interior than Toyota does these days,” he notes. “The interior of the $22,000 base Golf may have some nicer surfaces than the Mazda3, but to get the same luxury features like navigation or a higher-end stereo, you have to step up to a VW that costs quite a bit more.” That’s because Volkswagen forces you into a turbocharged GTI or the diesel TDI to order navigation or a premium stereo. Additionally, the four-door Golf can only be had with an automatic transmission.

Over a recent weekend with the 3, Floraday used the versatile hatchback to pick up front seats, a few spare sunroofs, and various other parts for his 1987 VW Quantum Syncro wagon. Despite a downpour that was forcing many drivers to pull off the road, Floraday was able to keep making progress. “For the first time in my life, I was grateful to be in a front-wheel-drive car with stability and traction control,” he recalled. “There was standing water along I-75 that wasn’t immediately apparent. Instead of the car sliding off the road, it simply slowed down and kept on course. I don’t believe I would have lost control of the vehicle without electronic stability control, but the system worked incredibly well and made the drive much more relaxed. Though our Mazda3 isn’t exactly a sports car, there’s enough torque to make it a potential handful in standing water. ESP sorted everything out and let me concentrate on what the other drivers were doing. Not only did I make it home safely, but the drive was stress-free.”

At its departure, the 3 has earned respect in the Automobile Magazine office as a quick, comfortable, and well-built car. “I adore the practicality, the performance, and most of all, the chassis tuning,” McCausland wrote. “Mazda’s chassis engineers are to be commended – the 3 is a blast in switchbacks, yet completely civilized over Michigan’s pulverized, post-winter tarmac.” Watch for our coming Four Seasons wrap-up of the Mazda 3, for the complete story on what we loved and what we didn’t during the past twelve months.

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