New Car Reviews

2010 Mazda3 s Sport 5-Door – Four Seasons Update – May 2010

Long-Term 2010 Mazda MAZDA3 Update: Spring 2010 ( 3 of 5 ) Miles to date: 0

We’ve got just less than a month before our Mazda 3 leaves our Four Seasons fleet. In eleven months we’ve accumulated 24,554 miles and lots of driving impressions – most of them positive.

We’ve already drawn comparisons between the Mazda3 and our long-term Volkswagen GTI, but a recent two-week stint with a base Golf gave us a chance to drive two of the best compact cars back-to-back. The 3 may be a touch more nimble, but the Golf has better seats and a much smoother engine. Volkwagen’s five-cylinder 2.5-liter engine is absolutely smooth through the rev range, unlike the Mazda’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which gets a bit harsh at the high end of the tach. The reality, though, is that the fight is so close that most staffers would be content with either a Golf or a 3.

“I’ll admit it – my opinion of our 3 was largely formed during the week I spent with it over the Christmas holiday, when it was wearing Continental snow tires; while they helped grip when the going got tough (slushy, really), they did the car no favors in the handling department,” said Web producer Evan McCausland. “Driving the Mazda with proper rubber fitted – Avids, in this case – reminds me of why we’ve loved the 3. Handling is delightful for a front-driver – the car is crisp, turns in well, and body roll is well controlled. I still think the shifter is a little lanky, but a short shift kit might cure that for a couple hundred bucks.”

“Of all the Four Seasons cars, the Mazda3 is the only car I thought about purchasing personally at one time,” says new art director Matt Tierney, “so I have really looked forward to spending more time with it. Once you get used to the clutch, the car is everything Zoom-Zoom advertises. The interior is also nice, I love the functionality of a four-door hatch, and I would happily own a Mazda3 once they restyle the smile.”

Deputy editor Joe DeMatio, however, doesn’t have a single complaint about the clutch. “I just drove the Mazda3 home from the airport and I have to say, the clutch didn’t bother me a bit,” he noted. “I’m surprised by everyone’s comments.” At least one other staffer thinks it’s an overly sensitive throttle, not the clutch that causes drivers to over-rev the engine when taking off from a stop.

“Overall, with about 24,000 miles, the Mazda has aged very well,” DeMatio adds. “The interior finishes are still very fresh. I still find this to be a very lively and fun car to drive. The VW Golf edges past it in terms of refinement, but the 3 isn’t far behind.”

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