/ / /
1003 2010 Mazda3 S Sport 5 Door February Update
four seasons long-term tests

Mazda3 s Sport 5-Door - Four Seasons Update - February 2010

SPRING
2009 Mazda3 Sport Five-Door
2010 Mazda MAZDA5 reviews to date

2009 Mazda3 Sport Five-Door

With the arrival of a long-term Volkswagen GTI at 120 East Liberty Street, the Mazda 3 faces increased pressure to impress us. The GTI is our 2010 Automobile of the Year and comparisons between the two compact hatches are inevitable.

After spending back-to-back nights in the GTI and 3, production editor Jennifer Misaros observes that the Mazda's larger exterior dimensions don't translate to more interior space. "The 3's swoopy styling may look great but it comes at the expense of interior volume and passenger space, mostly headroom," she remarks. "Despite having an extra two doors and 15 extra inches of overall length, the Mazda 3 has less than three extra cubic feet of cargo and provides only a nominal increase in legroom, front and rear."

The two vehicles also take distinctly different approaches to infotainment. While our 3 is equipped with an optional miniature navigation screen, the GTI comes standard with a much larger, touch-screen audio interface - but doesn't include navigation (it's a $1750 option). Both approaches have their devotees and cynics. Fans of the GTI system enjoy the additional information, yet others miss the tactile feedback of physical controls and wonder why navigation isn't included if the major hardware is present. The 3's mini-nav is offered at an attractive $1195 with keyless ignition and satellite radio, but the steering-wheel mounted controls, small screen, and limited functionality draw ire. Misaros notes that if Mazda were to downsize some of the physical controls in the center stack there would be plenty of room for a traditional touch-screen. "After living in the supremely logical and simply designed GTI for a few days, the Mazda 3's interior feels sophomoric and somewhat primitive in comparison," she gripes. Of course, we can't say all that without noting that the four-door GTI starts at $4729 more than the $20,290 base price of a Mazda 3 hatchback.

Meanwhile, our 3 is eight months into its stay, and drivers haven't stopped complaining about the clutch. Road test coordinator Mike Ofiara sums up the issue: "The clutch pedal takeup is really soft and short. Combined with an all or nothing throttle tip-in, it often results in engine rpm raised far too high when taking off from a stop." Three of the four latest comments in the logbook are about the clutch and Ofiara has deemed the 3's behavior worse than the numb communication that frustrated us with the clutch of our Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Our test drivers are at bit of a disadvantage in adapting to the 3's third pedal as we switch cars so often, and it's almost certain that a 3 owner would come to master their vehicle. However, an issue that generates this much discussion so late in a year-long test is a good indicator of something that requires an automaker's attention.

2009 Mazda3 Sport Five-Door

2010 Mazda3 s Sport 5-Door

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

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

Powertrain
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)

Chassis
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: Continental ExtremeWinterContact winter tires
Tire Size: 205/50TR-17

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

Options
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

pylonewolf
Interesting about the clutch and throttle on the Mazda3. I test drove one and was sold on the car with the manual, just because it was easy to modulate the throttle and clutch in gridlock. My Mazda3 feels as good as the one that I drove for the demo drive. I found the Acura TSX clutch a lot "grabbier" than this one, and the 2002 Civic Si clutch was numb in comparison.
Edward A. Sanchez
Wouldn't a more appropriate comparison be to a standard Golf rather than the GTI? Seems the GTI would be more comparable to the Mazdaspeed version.

New Car Research

our instagram

get Automobile Magazine

Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand price

subscribe

new cars

Read Related Articles

TO TOP