New Car Reviews

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

Long-Term 2010 Mazda MAZDA3 Update: Spring 2010 ( 2 of 5 ) Miles to date: 0

Back in February, our monthly update included a number of comments from drivers comparing our Mazda 3 to our newly arrived long-term Volkswagen GTI. Most of those comments favored the GTI, but this month, technical editor Don Sherman lays out his preference for the Mazda 3. “I strongly prefer the driving joy available here versus the competent but sedate VW,” he wrote. “This buggy is raring to go with ample power, quick response, and lots of grip. Yes, there are flaws – a notchy shifter, hanging throttle, bad seats – but the daily fun-to-drive payoff is superb.”

As we pass 23,000 miles on the odometer, the fun factor in the 3 has been revived thanks to a tire swap. With winter safely behind us, we’ve re-installed the summer tires. “I was thrilled that the summer tires were back on,” said senior web editor Phil Floraday, who had been avoiding the Mazda because of its squishy winter tires. “The snow tires killed the hatch’s typically good handling and road feel and didn’t really perform well in the snow.”

Drivers continue to marvel at the 3’s everyday practicality and exemplary dynamics. Steering, handling, ride quality, and power receive consistent praise. One driver summed up its all-around ability, saying, “It is a car easily taken for granted because it does everything it is supposed to and does it well.”

Perhaps that’s why we can’t stop harping on the clutch, a frequent target of complaints in the logbook. While the third pedal has a relatively long stroke, the clutch makes contact and fully engages in a tiny fraction of that travel. Copy editor Rusty Blackwell has even resorted to clutchless shifting as a work around. But as Floraday points out, “This might not be much of an issue to people who actually buy Mazda3s, since we all know the market share for manual transmissions is getting smaller every year.”

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